Churchill 1920-1945

Key issues 1-4


Was Churchill justified in using the strategic bom

  • Russia had been pushing for a seconf front in Europe which would involve an amphibious landing. Churchill had had several disasters with amphibious landings (Gallipoli/ Narvick) and knowing it was an area of weakness leant towards the bombing campaign
  • Churchill understood that an amphbious landing could potentially result in the loss of thousands of British lives (lack of resources and weak army) and using the bombing campaign instead would "deal" with Germany quickly without the loss of as many British lives.
  • In the context of the time, Btisain has been bombed by Germany and many had suffered. Many people in the general public probably fely Germany deserved to be bombed after the destruction of towns like Conventry and areas of London.
  • Was a way of loweing morale and hindering German progression in the war, targeting their resources and factories.
  • There was some great success: 1943 Hamburg and Rhur had a serious impact on German war productin and took vital planes away from the Russian Front.
  • Was a major factor in German defeat.


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Was Churchill justified in using the strategic bom

  • Churchill felt uneasy about the bombing campiagn
  • The ruthless policy of total war had moral implications- Churchill could be seen as a war criminal.
  • Half a million Germans lost their lives in the bombing, way more civillian lives than were lost in Britain during the Blitz.
  • Huge numbers of bombs 955,044 dropped.
  • There was a cost to British lives too, 55,000 members of Bomber Command were killed in action.
  • 1945- Dresden 44,000 died
  • The destruction of Dresden as a mjor cultural centre and its heavy casualities so late in the war made it a controversial decision. In context, there were so many German cities destroyed by that point, perhaps bombing Dresden had little strategic significance.
  • The bombing targeted not only German production but civilian lives as a terror tactic. Using bombing to hit at morale as a terror tactic was ineffective in Germany with the strict Nazi Police State, production and manufature were the true issues.
  • Hind sight- morally wrong.
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Was Churchill justified in his critcisms of Munich

  • Describes Munich settlement as an "unmitigated defeat"
  • Churchill was prophetic, he could see the wider picture knowing that Germany was not going to stop with the Sudentenland as proven by the invasion of Prague and later Poland.
  • Disagreed with Chamberlain's view of "channelling German grievances down peaceful alleyways"
  • Churchill felt that Chamberlain flying to see Hitler put Britain in a weaker position.
  • It would have paid for Britain to go to war militarily as German preparations were incomplete.
  • Churchill's view was a minority, but it did prevail and his speeches instilled a seed of doubt in many people's minds and the attitude towards appeasement did begin to change.
  • Duff Cooper resigned over Munich, Churchill not completely alone.
  • If action had been taken before Munich (Invasion of the Rhineland/ Anchluss/ Sudentenland) Germany could have been defeated.
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Was Churchill justified in his criticisms of Munic

  • Churchill's alternative policy The Arms and Covenant presented a paradox. It called for British and French re-armament, a grand alliance and collective security within the League of Nations BUT the League of Nations wants everyone to disarm, no alliances outside the League of Nations and against the covenant as it "picks" on Germany.
  • The British people didnt want war. You can't go to war as a disunited nation.
  • Britain faced a threat from not only Hitler but also Mussolini and Japan. Britain wasn't ready for a war of this capacity as Britain had no army and no advanced weaponry as no money had gone into re-armament due to the ten year rule (which was dropped in 1931- not Churchill's fault, he felt Britain should have rearmed.)
  • Churchill was not in government so didn't have to deal with the problems.
  • Churchill's view was a minorty, most of the conservatives agreed with Chamberlain (although Duff Cooper did resign after Munich).
  • Churchill hadn't spoken out enough about several issues: Italy's invasion of Abyssina, the Spanish Civil War or the Rhineland, so why did he speak out so late? Power hungry?
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Churchill's relationship with Roosevelt: REAL

  • Churchill and Roosevelt began their correspondence in 1939.
  • Was the most important relationship out of the Grand Alliance.
  • Britain depended on US involvement, so Churchill made this one of his key policies and was successful (though only limited success).
  • Many good things that helped win the war came out of their relationship: lend lease and American convoy protection, the atlantic charter, sharing information about the atomic bomb, the American intervention Britain so desperately needed as Britain's army and resources were practically non-existent.
  • Their meeting at Casablanca ensured that no terms except unconditonal surrender would be accepted from Germany. But...
  • Churchill and Roosevelt met in 1918, and Churchill apparently made a bad impression. They were very different characters: Roosevelt was a charismatic president, and at the time Churchill was in political wilderness and viewed as a drunk. The one thing that brought them together was a common enemy: Hitler.
  • The US was in splendid isolation and it wasn't their interest intially to be involved in a war that didn't concern them.
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Churchill's relationship with Roosevelt: FACADE

  • Although they lent 50 redundant destroyers to Britain, lend lease was no necessarily an indication that the US would join the war, although Churchill praised these measures highly. It avoided the US entry into the war by ensuring Britain maintained its war effort.
  • Roosevelt and Churchill had very different views on what the post war world would be like. Roosevelt disliked the British policy of Imperial Protection and the British Empire but Churchill felt this was a key issue.
  • Roosevelt disliked De Gaulle, Churchill felt he was the only alternative leader of the French as the Vichy France was practically a puppet government. Roosevelt also had a romantic image of Russia being heroic, and was perhaps a little naive of Stalin. He also favoured a second front (D-Day) that Churchill was particualrly wary of. Perhaps Roosevelt was not his best with his dealings of Stalin at Tehran and Yalta as he was ill and a dying man.
  • 1944-1945 Churchill urged the US of the importance of capturing Berlin for the democracy of Europe as this would be destroyed by Russian dictatorship. Roosevelt didn't understand this, saw Churchill as a "stirrer".
  • Churchill failed to attend his funeral: perhaps a partnership of circumstance rather than a special relationship.
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Churchill and Stalin: GOOD

  • Regardless of his fears of communism and his hatred towards Stalin's dicatorship, Churchill knew that Russia was key in the war effort. "If Hitler invaded Hell i would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil".Russia was a necessity to defeat the Nazis.
  • Churchill tries to get the best out of Stalin.
  • He stands up for Britain, understanding that if British Empire is to survive, Britain has to keep up with the major powers. Their relationship contributed to this.
  • Churchill attempted to keep Russian dominance out of Eastern Europe by proposing the Mediteranian strategy, understanding the importance of capturing Berlin first (though this was unsuccessful)
  • The percentage deal between Churchill and Stalin, though controversial ensured Britain kept the Suez Canal with access to its colonies in the East (keeping Britsih interests.)
  • Churchill didn't trust Stalin, but needed Russia to help fight a common enemy.
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Churchill and Stalin: BAD

  • Stalin was the head of a bloodthirsty dictatorship, and the Kaytn Massacre is an example of Russia's brutal repression. Churchill sensed that it could have been Russia that did it, not Germany but didn't do anything about it. Moral implication.
  • Neither Stalin or Churchill trsuted eachother. Stalin ignored the warnings Churchill gave him about the German invasion (information from Bletchley Park) and demanded proof from Churchill, but he could not give up Britain's secret to a man who he did not trust. This illustrates the need, yet lack of trust in the nature of their relationship.
  • Stalin demanded a second front into France from Britain but the UK was in no position to do so. This meant that the burden of war effort was on Russia resulting in thousands being killed, This had an impact on negotations.
  • Dicussions between Russia and Britian centred on Poland. A Polish government had been set up in London that Churchill believed to be legitimate, but Stalin had also set up a puppet government in Lublin. Stalin was determined to move Polish borders west and to set up friendly powers on Russian borders but this was a moral implication for Churchill who knew the problems this would cause for Eastern Europe who didnt want a dictatorship thrust upon them.
  • Roosevelt refused to entertain any opinion that Russia was a brutal dictaorship.
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Churchill and De Gaulle: GOOD

  • When France collapsed, De Gaulle became leader of the Free French in London.
  • Churchill admired his fighting spirit and saw him as the only alternative to the Vichy France regime under Petain that was practically a Nazi puppet goverment.
  • Churchill was loyal to De Gaulle despite Roosevelt disliking him and putting considerable pressure upon Churchill to drop him and replace him with Girand.
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Churchill and De Gaulle: BAD

  • De Gaulle was arrogant and never accepted the weakness of his position. He owed alot to Churchill.
  • Churchill had to balance out his need to aid heroic assistance to De Gaulle and France and avoid alienating Roosevelt, who he desperately needed in the war.
  • This was because Roosevelt favoured dealing with Vichy France leaders, favouring Giraud to De Gaulle. De Gaulle had Giraud assassinated which also did not sit well with Roosevelt. Roosevelt did not share the same respect for De Gaulle's strenght of character as Churchill.
  • De Gaulle angered Roosevelt by occupying French islands off of New Foundland without informing the Americans.
  • Churchill did not recognise Vichy France saw it for what it was, but Roosevelt didnt.
  • Churchill often became frustrated with De Gaulle as Churchill was often faced with De Gaulle's criticisms: he was suspicious of British and American motives and was unimpressed with the help given to France 1939-1940.This often led to stormy arguments.
  • The Issue between Churchill, De Gaulle and Roosevelt therefore was whether the Free French of De Gaulle were the "real" government, or whether a wider selection of French opinion should be consulted.
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How did Churchill interact with the Grand Alliance

  • It has been accepted that Churchill's vision has been proved right.
  • He forged a personal bind with Roosevelt and had faith that the USA would join the war.
  • He worked hard on this relationship as it was his policy of winning the war.
  • He had been practical enough to see that an alliance with Russia was essential and made huge efforts to keep in contact with his allies throughout thw war by a series of hazardous journeys and summin meetings.
  • The Atlantic charter of 1941 set out the war aims for freedom and he saw the dangers of Russia to Eastern Europe.
  • Churchill's personal diplomacy, his ultimate belief in victory and his vision of a world united against Nazism brought victory.
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Alternative View

  • Americans did not share Britain's concern to preserve its Empire, their policy was to weaken European empires and institute an "open door" trading policy with free trade that would benefit American economic strength. The help Roosevelt gve was limited and Britain got a bad deal. Churchill's appeals achieved little.
  • If Japan hadn't attacked Pearl Harbour, it would be doubtful whether Roosevelt would have joined the war. Even then it was not certain that America would help Britain until Hitler declared war on the US.
  • There were strains about strategic issues. By 1943 relations were much less warm between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. Increasingly Britain lost influence over the war.
  • USA was not influenced by Churchill's opposition of Russia.
  • In order to keep Stalin in the war, Britain was ready to appease him about Eastern Europe to a greater extent than to Hitler. US dissaproved, but neither had control.
  • Generally it was a pyrrhic victory for Churchill, the Empire was at stake, France was not protected nor was Eastern Europe, Europe wasnt completely democratic after the war and there was an imbalance in power.
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Churchill's overall Strategy: GOOD

Mediterranean Strategy:

  • Would avoid bloodbaths in France due to the opening of a second front.
  • Would avoid the disaster of an amphibious landing that Churchill feared.
  • Would protect British possessions in the Eastern Mediterranean and oil suppies in the Middle East and keep the Suez Canal open to link Britain to India and Autralasia.
  • Opened up the chance of a Balkan campaign, attacking through Greece and Yugoslavia taking pressure off of the USSR and give British influence in Eastern Europe.
  • Would be a less costly attack than an amphibious landing.
  • Bombing campaign would also be going on to weaken Germany's industrial capacity.
  • Churchill's view was based on a clear aim that Britain would continue to be a major imperial power with vital worldwide interests which it needed to portect
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Churchill's overall Strategy: BAD

  • Russia might not survive the German attack, though this was less likely when German attacks lost momentum in 1941 in the winter and Russia began to revive.
  • Stalin might make another deal with Hitler if a second front wasnt opened.
  • The US might insist on a second front, and if refused just concentrate on Japan.
  • The stratgey might distract Germany but not invade it itself.
  • D-Day was actually very successful in 1944.
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The Anchluss

  • The uniting of Austria and Germany in 1938. (against the Treaty of versialles)
  • Austrians wanted to join with Germany excitied by the Nazi regime. Hitler was Austrian.
  • Roosevelt sent a message to Chamberlain hinting at American intervention in order to sort the situation in Europe out. Chamberlain rejected this offer.
  • Eden resigned feeling it was a mistake.
  • Churchill goes into a depression, understanding the importance of America's involvement.
  • Churchill saw the Anchluss as evidence for the need for preparation of war. He called for a military alliance
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Why was Churchill afraid of Communism and Social u

  • Towards the end of the 20th century there had been signifcant movement to the left in many countries, in particular Russia which presented the greatest threat to conservatives in 1917.
  • The autocracy was overthrown by the Bolshevicks headed by Lenin, who expected a communist uprising in Europe, signing away land, breaking treaties with former allies and murdering the Royal family. Churchill was horrified.
  • He saw communism as a evil and wrote about it in extreme terms and urged for active steps to be taken against the regime.
  • Churchill was insistent on a high level of intervetion- a war monger/ opportunist/ too extreme/ unrealistic. He didnt take into account the sympathy of British workers for communism, the diffculties of a vast winter campaign or the post war feeling of no more fighting.
  • Because of this fear of communism and the impact it would have on the middle/upper classes in Britain Churchill was unable to distinguish between this and internal threats.
  • Potential threats against Britain came from Ireland and India.
  • Churchill was not afraid of using extreme measures: gas and bombing in Iraq and special units for Ireland.
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What were his attitudes to the General Strike and

  • Coal was central to Britain's wealth but became too expensive due to the Gold Standard. The problem was that the mine owners wanted to bring the costs down by lowering the wages and increasing the hours. The slogan of the miners became "Not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day".
  • Churchill felt he was part of the cause of the problem and wanted to bring the miners and mine owners together.
  • Churchill is sympathetic towards the miners, having fought with Scottish miners during WW1 and was concillitory to begin with. He tried to subsidise them but Britain was in too much debt. Samuel Commision.
  • However, he began to see the hand of Bolshevism viewing the trade Unions and Labour party as "a trojan horse for communism".
  • The General Strike meant that the whole country came to a standstill and Churchill saw it as a threat to national security adopting a bellicose, bull dog manner which wasn't really appropriate for the situation- war monger/ extremist. He used the army and volunteers to help deal with the strike.
  • Churchill also used propaganda in the form of the British Gazette as a way of swaying public opinion against the strike. (anti-sommunist)
  • Once the strike ended, Churchill became magnanimous.
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Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer

  • Churchill became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1924 when Baldwin was PM and Churchill had rejoined the Tories.
  • Labour saw him as their greatest enemy.
  • Churchill was commited to Free Trade.
  • Churchill had no economic background or financial experience and his own financial state was not good.
  • He agrees to the ten year rule with the assertion that Britain will not be at war with anyone in the next ten years. No money went into re-armament but to spending money on the people and reforms. The ten year rule is ok as long as no one else is rearming, but it caused a problem. Churchill felt that if the ten year rule was dropped that meant the necessity to re-arm. He didn't see the threat from Germany until the 1930s, and when they dropped the rule in 1931 he wants re-armament.
  • Churchill knew in 1924 that Britain needed to have a relationship with Germany after reading Keynes: the Economic Consequences of Peace, a criticism of the T of V as Britain needs a strong Germany to trade with. This influenced post-war decisions on Germany.
  • Churchill was realistic in his budgets, understanding the economic needs for the people during the 1920s.
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Gold Standard

  • All the best financiers/ treasury officials argued for a return to the Gold standard. Keynes almost alone argued against it. Churchill found himself in the middle. His instincts were to go with Keynes, but he found himself going with the "better" advice and pressure from the government. UK went back on the Gold Standard. The pound was the equivalent of $4.86.
  • It was regarded the biggest mistake of Baldwin's government as it over-valued the pound and there were bad consequences.
  • British goods were too expensive people couldn't afford to buy things. Exports fell which was not good for a country that was in debt and had huge unemployment after the war.
  • Coal dropped in exports which indirectly led to the General Strike as as a result of the drop in exports, mine owners had to drop pay, and lengthen hours to prevent bankruptcy.
  • Keynes mocked Churchill in his article: "The economic consequences of Churchill"
  • The return to the gold standard also posed problems due to the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and Churchill was blamed for the bad economic situation (when really he had accepted the advice of the "best" financiers.
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Churchill misjuded post world war 1?

  • Communism in Russia did not have overwhelming support
  • There wasn't really a revolutionary situation in Britain.
  • There had been discussion about giving Ireland and India more freedom, and these were not new ideas.
  • However, because we know a revolution didn't happen we can't say that Churchill was completey extreme in being wary about social unrest.
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Samuel Richardson


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Jessica Campbell


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Is this all that you need to know for Churchill 1920-1945? 

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