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IN THIS ISSUE Winston Churchill Remembered (Duration: 17:21) Sir Winston Churchill is remembered as the quick-witted, cigar-smoking British prime minister who led
Great Britain to victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. Fifty years after his passing, Peter
Mansbridge takes this commemorative look back at the man and his remarkable life.
News in Review Study Modules Remembering Canada’s War Dead,
October 2009
War Criminals: Hiding in Canada, April 1997
Canada at War, February 1991
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Love, Hate & Propaganda I: World War II for
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News in Review – April 2015 – Teacher Resource Guide WINSTON CHURCHILL REMEMBERED MINDS ON Have you ever heard of Winston
Churchill? If you have, write a brief
account of what you know about
him. If you have never heard of him,
describe what you think life would
be like had the Allies not defeated
the Nazis in the Second World War.
SETTING THE STAGE Winston Churchill was the right man at the right
time. With the Nazis coming off a swift
conquest of most of Europe (including France!),
and resting at Britain’s doorstep on the other
side of the English Channel, Churchill became
the voice of hope and unity in the face of
Hitler’s military aggression. It was Churchill,
and his unwavering message of perseverance
and determination, that helped elevate the spirits
and motivate to action the people of Great
Britain during the World War II.
An unlikely prime minister He was an unlikely candidate for prime minister.
In the 1930s, Churchill advocated for
rearmament while the majority of Britons
wanted to avoid war at almost any cost. This
evolved into the policy of appeasement — an
approach that saw British diplomats either halfheartedly oppose Hitler’s territorial ambitions or
willfully give away the land of sovereign
nations. By the time the Nazis invaded Poland in
September 1939, Britain knew they were in
trouble. They were compelled to declare war on
Germany despite the fact that their military
infrastructure was ill prepared for battle. Initially
the British government brought Churchill into
cabinet to help lead the war effort, appointing
him First Lord of the Admiralty. By the spring
of 1940, the British people had lost confidence
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in then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain,
setting the stage for Winston Churchill to
assume the leadership of a coalition government
that faced the daunting task of defeating Adolph
Their Finest Hour Churchill believed it was his destiny to lead
Britain during this incredibly difficult time. He
felt his experience as a soldier in India, a news
correspondent in the Boer War, a politician and
cabinet minister in the First World War, and a
political outcast in 1930s all coalesced to make
him fit to lead Britain through adversity. He was
by no means a perfect leader (many historians
are quick to point out his pre-war and post-war
failures) but the fact that Britain’s tenacious war
strategy took shape under his rule is not the
subject of dispute. Whether it was the
evacuation of 350 000 British, French and
Belgian troops at Dunkirk, the stubborn
determination to thwart the Nazi Luftwaffe and
survive the Battle of Britain, the formation of
strategic alliances with the U.S. and the Soviet
Union or the awe-inspiring D-Day invasion,
Churchill was the iconic figure at the centre of a
Britain that refused to bend to the will of Hitler.
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and his inability to
hold onto his job as prime minister in 1945.
The man vs. the myth It is this iconic status that baffles some
historians. While he is consistently viewed as
the greatest Briton in public opinion polls,
historians wonder if people are forgetting
Churchill’s failures. As evidence that the story
of Churchill has become more about the myth
than the man, they site his calamitous attack on
Turkey in 1915 when he was First Lord of the
Admiralty, his disastrous decision to return
Britain to the gold standard in 1925 when he was
However, it cannot be denied that Churchill was
the leader people chose to rally around when
Britain was weak and on the verge of collapse.
And, in the end, Britain and Churchill came out
of the Second World War with a sense of pride
and resolve while Germany and Hitler lay in
ruins. Myth or man, Churchill was the face and
the voice of victory over tyranny and
To consider 1. Why was Churchill an unlikely candidate for prime minister?
2. What experiences helped Churchill feel he was destined to lead Britain during the Second World
3. a) Why are some historians baffled by the iconic status of Winston Churchill?
b) Why is Churchill held in such high regard?
Reflection In his Nobel Prize-winning history of the
Second World War, Winston Churchill
I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial…I thought I knew a good deal about it all, I was sure I 1
should not fail.
Do you believe in destiny? Do you believe
Churchill when he says it was his destiny to
lead Britain to victory in World War II?
Follow up
What role did Churchill play in the following
events? Conduct some follow up research.
The Boer War
Britain’s return to the gold standard
The evacuation of Dunkirk
The Battle of Britain
Indian independence
Make point form notes on each event. Use
those notes to write a 10-15 sentence
evaluation of Winston Churchill’s
effectiveness as a leader.
1. Churchill, Winston S. The Second World War. Volume 1: The Gathering Storm, p.526-527.
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VIDEO REVIEW Pre‐viewing “
Apparently Hitler could make you believe that he could do anything, but Churchill could make you believe that you could do anything. And I think that is something he made every man and woman in the country believe: that they had a role to play, and that was very important.
– Celia Sandys, Winston Churchill’s granddaughter What does this quote suggest about Churchill’s leadership style? What does it say about Hitler’s
leadership style?
Viewing 1. Why do people admire and revere Winston Churchill?
2. How old was he when he died?
3. How many people made their way past Churchill’s coffin when he was lying in state?
4. Why was it significant that Queen Elizabeth attended Churchill’s funeral?
5. What journey did Churchill’s coffin take after the funeral? How did dock workers show their respect?
6. Who is Celia Sandys?
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7. What does Sandys mean when she describes the Churchill War Rooms as a time warp?
8. Approximately a half million people visit the Churchill War Rooms each year. What does Sandys
think they are looking for?
9. List some of the historically preserved elements of the War Rooms.
10. What was Churchill thinking the night he became prime minister of Great Britain?
11. Why was Churchill not a particularly popular politician at times?
12. What questions does Celia Sandys wish she could have asked her grandfather?
13. What was the “Churchill nap”?
14. What remarkable coincidence does Celia Sandys reveal about Winston Churchill’s death?
15. Do you think it would be a “very different world” if not for Winston Churchill? Why or why not?
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Post‐viewing When asked if she believes Churchill had doubts, Celia Sandys responded that he must have had doubts
but he could never show those doubts to the public. In her words:
…if he showed that he had any doubt, then no one else would believe in him. He had to, you know, go through it with confidence and make everyone believe that he knew that he could do it. But he had to keep the faith and carry on and basically follow his own maxim which was: Never, never, never give in.
– Celia Sandys, Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Why would it have been important for Churchill to conceal his doubts? How did Churchill’s maxim help
people believe he would see the job through?
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THE WORDS OF WINSTON CHURCHILL Task #1: Examine the quotes Read the following quotes and complete the task that follows.
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential. If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time — a tremendous whack. 5
I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Make is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter. Source:
1. Make a poster using one of the quotes listed above. Ensure that the quote is clearly displayed and
surround the quote with images that complement what is being said.
2. Write a one paragraph explanation (7-10 sentences) of why you selected that particular quote and
attach it to the back of your poster.
Task #2: Read the speeches Read excerpts from the three speeches by Churchill on the following pages and consider these questions:
1. a) How does Churchill argue that rearmament is more of a call to peace than a call to war in the ‘we
must arm’ speech?
b) Who exactly does Churchill deem to be the enemy of the civilized world?
2. What sentence in the ‘never surrender’ speech best describes Churchill’s confidence that Britain
would not fall to the Nazis?
3. a) Why does Churchill single out the U.S. in his ‘finest hour’ speech?
b) What does he mean when he makes reference to perverted science?
4. Based on your reading of a few sections of Churchill’s speeches, how persuasive is he when it comes
to delivering his message?
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The defence of freedom and peace / We must arm – October 16, 1938 We shall never surrender – June 4, 1940 Churchill made this speech before he was
brought into government. By this time, Hitler
had aggressively rearmed, reoccupied the
Rhineland, annexed Austria, and convinced
Britain and France to hand over half of
Czechoslovakia in the famous Munich
Agreement. Churchill was clearly at his wits end
as he argued passionately against appeasement
and in favour of opposing fascism by rearming
the British forces.
Just under a month after becoming prime
minister, Churchill made this impassioned
speech. With France on the brink of defeat, and
having just evacuated 350 000 soldiers from the
mainland in the Miracle of Dunkirk, Churchill
told the British people that, despite the recent
setbacks, they would stand together and defeat
the Nazis. It was a speech that needed to be
made as overall morale (despite the successful
evacuation at Dunkirk) was very low.
Dictatorship — the fetish worship of one man —
is a passing phase... A state of society where
men may not speak their minds, where children
denounce their parents to the police, where a
business man or small shopkeeper ruins his
competitor by telling tales about his private
opinions; such a state of society cannot long
endure if brought into contact with the healthy
outside world. The light of civilized progress
with its tolerances and co-operation, with its
dignities and joys, has often in the past been
blotted out. But I hold the belief that we have
now at last got far enough ahead of barbarism
to control it, and to avert it, if only we realize
what is afoot and make up our minds in time. We
shall do it in the end. But how much harder our
toil for every day's delay!
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if
nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are
made, as they are being made, we shall prove
ourselves once again able to defend our Island home,
to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace
of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.
At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That
is the resolve of His Majesty's Government-every man
of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.
The British Empire and the French Republic, linked
together in their cause and in their need, will defend to
the death their native soil, aiding each other like good
comrades to the utmost of their strength. Even though
large tracts of Europe and many old and famous
States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the
Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we
shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we
shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and
oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and
growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island,
whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the
beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we
shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight
in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if,
which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a
large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our
Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the
British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in
God's good time, the New World, with all its power
and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation
of the old.
Is this a call to war? Does anyone pretend that
preparation for resistance to aggression is
unleashing war? I declare it to be the sole
guarantee of peace. We need the swift gathering
of forces to confront not only military but moral
aggression; the resolute and sober acceptance
of their duty by the English-speaking peoples
and by all the nations, great and small, who
wish to walk with them. Their faithful and
zealous comradeship would almost between
night and morning clear the path of progress
and banish from all our lives the fear which
already darkens the sunlight to hundreds of
millions of men.
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Their finest hour – June 18, 1940 A few weeks after the ‘never surrender’ speech,
Churchill addressed the fact that, with France in
German hands, Hitler would no doubt next set
his sights on Britain. The speech serves not only
as a call to battle for the British people but also
as a warning for the United States that
isolationism was not an option when facing the
tyranny of a fascist dictator like Adolph Hitler.
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to
begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of
Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own
British life, and the long continuity of our
institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and
might of the enemy must very soon be turned on
us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in
this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to
him, all Europe may be free and the life of the
world may move forward into broad, sunlit
uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world,
including the United States, including all that we
have known and cared for, will sink into the
abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister,
and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of
perverted science. Let us therefore brace
ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves
that, if the British Empire and its
Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men
will still say, "This was their finest hour."
Source: The Churchill Centre. Retrieved from:
Task #3: Listen to the speeches Audio links:
We must arm –
The portion of the speech referenced above comes in around the three minute mark. Note the difference
between the transcript and what was actually said by Churchill.
We shall never surrender –
The specific passage cited above is found shortly after the 10 minute mark of the speech.
Their finest hour –
The passage cited above begins shortly before the four minute mark.
*Note: if the links don’t work, try an internet search using the name of the speech and Churchill’s name.
Questions after listening 1. Churchill suffered from a speech impediment known as a lateral lisp. This condition made the
pronunciation of the letters ‘s’ and ‘z’ a difficult prospect. Churchill worked hard to come to terms
with his speech impediment. Do you notice any signs of the lateral lisp in any of the speeches you
listened to?
2. How would you characterize the pace and delivery of Churchill’s speeches? He has been called a
master orator and a charismatic public speaker. Do you agree with this description?
3. Based on your analysis of the audio versions of Churchill’s speeches, do you think he would be a
successful politician in today’s world? Are his speeches something today’s public would appreciate or
are people more inclined to the short sound bit and brief Twitter notes?
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