Chapter 2: Learning From History
Winston Churchill was always highly conscious and urgent about time. Britain could not afford to waste any time.
Here are more of his profound words: “When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure.
“There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the Sibylline Books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong—these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history” (Gilbert, op cit; emphasis mine throughout).
What an utterly condemning statement! We haven’t learned from history—even recent history of Churchill and World War ii!
If mankind is unteachable, it’s not just ignorance. It’s refusing to face the truth. Man just naturally hates and rebels against God’s law and even his own laws much of the time. Human nature is the first enemy that we must conquer. Then we can be taught. That is what the Bible is all about. But who obeys the Bible?
We didn’t denazify Germany after World War ii, and it is back on the world scene. The ugly factions are about to get control again. Already they are throwing their weight around—after the world has seen their grisly past in living color! What gall! That should be enough to teach those who learn from history that we are going to have to deal with yet another militant Germany.
It has already caused two world wars. And according to Bible prophecy, it is destined to start a third! (Request our free booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.) As Churchill said, it is “the endless repetition of history.”
“Is there a member of the government who will get up now and say that in November next we shall still have a 50 percent superiority over Germany? Is there a member of the government who will still assert that in March last, six weeks ago, we had a substantial superiority, or that we have a superiority today? No, sir. The whole of these assertions, made in the most sweeping manner and on the highest authority, are now admitted to be entirely wrong” (ibid).
There was still a possibility, Churchill believed, of preserving peace. “‘Never must we despair,’ he said, ‘never must we give in, but we must face facts and draw true conclusions from them.’ It was now essential for Britain to retrieve ‘the woeful miscalculations of which we are at present the dupes, and of which, unless we take warning in time, we may some day be the victims’” (ibid).
Can America and Britain face facts today and draw true conclusions from them? The very survival of our nations depends on it. And time is once again a very urgent factor.
“Churchill reiterated his worries [on May 5] when he wrote to Lt. Col. Ridley Pakenham-Walsh: ‘I am astounded at the indifference with which the press and public seem to view the fact that the government have been utterly wrong about the German air strength, and that we are now substantially outnumbered and must continue to fall further and further behind for at least two years, in fact we can never catch up unless they wish it’” (ibid).
It’s as if our press and politicians today have no memory. In 1979, they virtually forced an ally, the shah of Iran, out of office. Then Iran became the number one terrorist nation in the world. Our political elite forced a white government and strong ally from South Africa rule and helped usher in the Communist-affiliated African National Congress. South Africa is now a close friend of Iran and Syria, the greatest terrorist nations in the world.
The “endless repetition” of our foreign-policy weakness plagues us. We fail to remember history, and we get lost in the present.
As we make nation-destroying mistakes, the press and people remain indifferent—just as we did in the past.
We learn nothing from history. The “endless repetition” of catastrophes continues until we become victims. That is what happens to dupes!
History and Churchill should have taught us powerful lessons. Instead, that history condemns us!
Churchill stated on July 9, 1935, “There lies before us a period of strain and peril which I do not think has been equalled—no, not even in the Great War [World War i].”
Hitler continued to make and break treaties. Some Europeans condoned his doing so. Others even praised him.
Then Britain made a Naval Agreement with Germany. The British leaders and people rejoiced. Churchill said this about the treaty on July 11: “I cannot feel that this German Naval Agreement is at all a matter for rejoicing. I remain still under this impression, that the one great fear of Europe is the power and might of the rearmed strength of Germany, and that the one great hope is the gathering together of powers who are conscious of that fear.”
British leaders kept hiding from the “one great fear of Europe”—Hitler. Churchill warned that the one great hope was uniting with other nations who had the courage to face their fears.
The people were easily deceived, because they didn’t want to face the painful truth. They were looking for signs of hope, which were only delusions.
Hitler used such tactics as the Naval Agreement to lull the British people to sleep. They took it as a positive sign, because they were so weak. This caused them to reject Churchill’s warning and return to their pleasures. Hitler was playing them like a fiddle.
Most people will not face their national fears. It takes strong leaders, like Churchill, to clarify and stir the people to confront the critical issues—where the people’s energies should be focused. If they lack that leadership, then the people continue, like the Titanic, until a great disaster strikes and perhaps destroys the nation. Britain and the free world came dangerously close to that end in World War ii. Have we forgotten?
“During the election campaign [Prime Minister Stanley] Baldwin effectively dashed Churchill’s hopes that rearmament would become a leading Conservative election cry. In its own Manifesto, the Labour Party had accused the Conservative Party of endangering world peace by ‘planning a vast and expensive rearmament program.’ Speaking to the Peace Society on October 31, Baldwin answered this accusation by declaring: ‘I give you my word there will be no great armaments. …
“‘There may be governments deliberately planning the future, leading reluctant or unsuspecting people into the shambles. It sometimes looks as if it were so. I confess that in my own political experience I have not encountered governments possessed of all these malevolent qualities. …’
“Churchill, however, throughout his campaign at Epping, and at Hull and Biggleswade, continued to press for much greater rearmament, and to warn of the aggressive nature of Nazism. Writing in the Daily Mail on November 12, two days before the poll, Churchill declared, in contrast to Baldwin’s view: ‘Terrible preparations are being made on all sides for war,’ and he added: ‘I do not feel that people realize at all how near and how grave are the dangers of a world explosion. Some regard the scene with perfect equanimity; many gape stolidly upon it, some are angry to be disturbed by such thoughts in their daily routine and pleasures’” (ibid).
Prime Minister Baldwin later admitted that he put his own political interest ahead of the nation’s welfare! And his country came perilously close to death. The people wouldn’t face Churchill’s warning until it was almost too late. He talked about the possible “end” of Britain’s glories. But the people did not want to think about the bloody dangers of a world explosion. They didn’t want to be disturbed from their comfortable routine and pleasures. So they voted for politicians who spoke to them about more pleasures and a prosperous world.
The same is true today. We face a far worse world explosion. But we are too glutted on sports and entertainment to heed a strong warning. As Churchill said, history continues to repeat itself! We have not learned from the powerful lessons of World War ii.
The Bible prophesies that our enemies in the end time are going to be more sophisticated and subtle than Hitler was. We are going to be betrayed and attacked by our “lovers,” or allies. And this in the time of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons!
That means we can’t afford the kind of mistake we made with Hitler. We must learn from that disaster or face a far greater catastrophe!
Churchill’s writings just before World War ii could teach us some vital and urgent lessons. If we fail to heed the warning as in World War ii, then we must experience the indescribable disaster of a nuclear World War iii!
The Great Delusion
The British leaders continued to reject the facts about Germany’s accelerating military strength. But Churchill kept proclaiming the facts and having his views reinforced by events.
Churchill wrote in January 1936, “I do not mention this to claim demonic powers for myself, but only to remind you of the very long and careful thought I have given to these questions, and that it has sometimes been vindicated by the results.
“Another instance occurred last year in November 1934 when I drew attention to the secret growth of the German military air force, and made certain statements about its strength relative to our own. These statements were disputed by Mr. Baldwin, who I presume, after full consideration of all the Intelligence information at the disposal of the Air Ministry, put forward other statements. But only a few months later, in the spring, Mr. Baldwin was forced to confess in the House of Commons that the government with their official information were wrong, adding, ‘we were all in it.’ Here then was a case in which an independent outside judgment was proved to be nearer the truth than the estimate from the government based on all their secret sources” (ibid).
This was a stunning revelation to the British people and many in Parliament! The prime minister and all of his cabinet had to confess that they were wrong. Winston Churchill, an outsider, was right.
The government, with all of its secret sources, committed a nation-threatening error. The big question is, why? The politicians put themselves and their party ahead of the nation’s welfare. They lacked the courage to face the hard truths. These “intelligent” men were leading the nation, and the whole Western world, to its death!
This is a common mistake in the history of governments. Can we trust man’s government? Our leaders? Only in proportion to their passion for the truth!
This is the lesson we should be learning from Winston Churchill and World War ii. There is something dangerously flawed about man’s governments and human reasoning. Being deceived leads to the death of nations. This is not a subject to be taken lightly!
Only Churchill stood in Nazi Germany’s way. He was our watchman who warned all of us what was coming. We were barely awakened before it was too late.
Churchill had secret sources who would send him many of the extreme statements from Hitler’s speeches that were not printed in the German press. Then he believed what Hitler said and warned accordingly. That seems simple enough, but most people didn’t believe Hitler’s words about war and destruction. That would have meant disrupting their thinking about pleasure and prosperity. That is why they became victims of a towering delusion.
The British leaders wanted Churchill, their watchman, to go away. Even one of his friends, Duff Cooper, said, “One would have thought that at Winston’s present age, and after holding so many high offices, he would have been content to settle down philosophically to become an elder statesman and to devote himself to letters” (ibid).
Churchill was 62 years old in 1936. Most people wanted him to be a more passive elder statesman! Members of Parliament didn’t want anyone to upset their smooth-running machine. They wanted to believe that there was only peace and prosperity ahead. But Churchill warned of the most dangerous times his nation had ever faced—even worse than World War i!
Britain didn’t need another elder statesman or man of letters. It needed a man who would deliver a thunderous message about the danger of Nazi Germany!
Perhaps no leader has ever been more scorned by so many leaders and people as Churchill was in those prewar years. But he was never deterred—never discouraged. He kept warning because he loved his nation and his people.
German Troops March
Hitler knew how weak the British people were. So he decided that his troops should march.
“That same week, grave events were taking place in Europe. On March 7, Hitler ordered German troops to cross into the demilitarized zone of Germany. Within hours, the Rhineland, whose demilitarized status had since 1919 provided France and Western Europe with at least the illusion of security, became the potential starting point for any German aggressive action westwards. Two days after the remilitarization of the Rhineland, the House of Commons debated the Defense White Paper. For the Labour Party, Clement Attlee moved the rejection of the government’s proposals on the grounds that they were too bellicose, and would contribute to world unrest” (ibid).
Germany had just violated a treaty it made after World War i, which it also started!
Germany marched, and the House of Commons debated and did nothing. The British were fearful of being “too bellicose,” or warlike, in their words—not deeds!
Germany’s aggressive military move clearly pointed toward war. Still, the British didn’t want to contribute to “world unrest” by opposing Germany, even with their words—certainly not by military action!
The Times newspaper, perhaps the best in the world at that time, had a headline which proclaimed, “A Chance to Rebuild.” The Times discussed rebuilding just before the greatest destruction this world has ever experienced! This world-famous newspaper helped lull people to sleep. It had a glorious opportunity to help Churchill watch and warn. Instead, it made Churchill’s job much harder!
This is a subject most people in the press don’t want to discuss today. That is because, generally speaking, they were so wrong about Germany and Churchill before World War ii.
The press failed to learn a crucial lesson. So don’t expect them to be receptive toward a strong warning today about a dangerous and militant Germany rising once again in Europe, which is about to shatter the peace of this world!
Only two years after World War ii, Germany was left to denazify itself. Still our peoples vainly hope that a militant Germany won’t resurface in this dangerous nuclear age. Like little children, we act as if the problem will go away if we ignore it.
Where is our Winston Churchill today?
Have we really learned any lessons from that recent and most destructive war ever in history? If we haven’t learned some lessons from World War ii, then our future is very bleak.
Sidebar: Winston S. Churchill: The warrior
Winston Churchill had been a soldier for many years. A warrior attitude was manifested in his political life also. So this man had the courage to withstand a most withering attack from his own people.
Most leaders would have faltered because of a weak will. This is where the whole nation failed. The people followed their leaders. They (and America) lacked the courage to face the brutal truth in the early days of Hitler’s reign. In time, Churchill was able to strengthen their will through his strong warrior spirit. He believed that every British citizen should be willing to die, choking on his or her own blood, before surrendering to Adolf Hitler.
Some wanted Churchill to be the minister of defense. But he was not the kind of defense minister those in power wanted.
“‘After today’s debate,’ Sir Maurice Hankey wrote to Sir Warren Fisher, ‘I am afraid we have got to make some concession for a minister of defense. What I want is something that will work and not upset the psychology of the whole machine.’ Both Hankey and Warren Fisher—the two most senior civil servants, were determined that the new minister should not be a disruptive influence. ‘The minister should be a disinterested type of man,’ Warren Fisher wrote to Neville Chamberlain on February 15, [1936,] ‘with no ax to grind or desire to make a place for himself’” (Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill—The Prophet of Truth).
They wanted a minister of defense who would speak to them of “smooth things”—one who would help perpetuate the grand delusion of continuing peace and prosperity. Certainly he must not be a man who would warn about a coming war. And he must have little interest in the military of Britain or Germany! Their idea of a defense minister was a man who would be easily controlled. In short, he must not be a leader!
Where do we see a watchman like Churchill today? Where is there such a man who will stand up and challenge the whole government? And even the entire nation? Where is there a political leader who has the character to boldly proclaim to our people that they have degenerated into the sewer—at a time when the world is filled with unparalleled dangers?
I see no such leader in the U.S. or Britain.