Monday, January 24, 2005

January 24, 1965

Forty years ago the greatest leader in the modern world and the (real) Man of the 20th Century died at age 90: Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. The Monk's admiration of the man and his place in history is difficult for The Monk to render into words. So those who have trod this path should have their say:

At this link is the obituary of Sir Winston by Anthony Lewis in the January 24, 1965 NY Times. The second line of Lewis's obit summed up the man nicely: "The great figure who embodied man's will to resist tyranny passed into history this morning."

Steven Hayward wrote a piece six years ago for the Ashbrook Center on leadership and Churchill that bears re-reading today.

Churchill is remembered as a great man not only because he led Britain and the free world in the ultimate battle against tyranny from 1939-1945, but also because he understood and recognized both the Nazi threat from its inception in 1933, and the Stalinist imperialist threat in the immediate post-World War II years, as typified in his "Iron Curtain" speech from 1946:

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. Athens alone-Greece with its immortal glories-is free to decide its future at an election under British, American and French observation. The Russian-dominated Polish Government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon Germany, and mass expulsions of millions of Germans on a scale grievous and undreamed-of are now taking place. The Communist parties, which were very small in all these Eastern States of Europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. Police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in Czechoslovakia [where the Czech Communists led a Hitler-esque coup in 1947], there is no true democracy.

Churchill was a man ahead of his time and the world has been poorer for his absence these last 40 years.

[Note: I identified Steven Hayward as affiliated with The Weekly Standard. I confused him with Stephen Hayes.]

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