What didn't we know about Churchill?

State funeral for Winston Churchill 50 years ago : The last appearance of the Empire

Grainy black and white images from the TV archive sum up one of the most nostalgic moments in British history. On January 30, 1965, Winston Churchill's coffin, decorated with the Union Jack, was carried up the Thames on the “Havengore” barge. Load cranes, which at that time were still lined up on the south bank, lower their carrying arms, one after the other, out of respect.

British people, hundreds of thousands of their final escort on that day, by the roadside or at home, knew that they weren't just saying goodbye to their great war premiere. The state funeral was the Empire's last appearance. The glorious story was over for good.

Today, Friday, the “Havengore” will make the trip again. A military band will play "Rule Britannia", cannons will fire salutes from the tower. "Churchill's words and actions continue to resonate in our national life today," said Prime Minister David Cameron as he announced the commemorations. "We remember what he did, not just for Britain, but for all of humanity."

On January 16, 1965, 91-year-old Churchill had a stroke. "It's all so boring," he said - the last intelligible word from the great speaker who wrote more than Shakespeare and Charles Dickens put together. In 1899 he took part in the Boer War on horseback. When Britain detonated its first atomic bomb in 1952, he was prime minister. He was a member of the House of Commons for 64 years. But he goes down in history because he led England's struggle against Adolf Hitler and forged the alliance with Russians and the United States that liberated Europe.

Winston Churchill died on January 24, 1965 at the age of 91

When he died on January 24th, the operation "Hopenot" (Hopefully not), as the planning name of the state funeral was called, began. Beethoven's Fifth was played on the radio, the lights in Piccadilly Circus went out, the "Times" had an obituary on the front page for the first time and wrote: "His fame will last as long as the history of this country is told." At the service in St. Paul's the Queen walked in front of the coffin.

Churchill's death is still a living memory for many. In 2002, millions voted him “the greatest Brit in history” in a BBC campaign. Management seminars analyze how he mobilized the British, against all hope, for the almost hopeless war against Hitler and for freedom.

In the cabinet he was often alone against those who sought a compromise with Adolf Hitler

Just as England fought Hitler alone in the “Blitz” in 1940, Churchill often stood alone in his own cabinet against those who sought a compromise with Hitler - such as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with his “appeasement policy” before the war. Chamberlain resigned on May 10, 1940. Germany had opened the Western Front and Chamberlain felt that he was not up to the cause. He proposed Churchill to the King, Minister of the Navy, as his successor. Churchill was 66 years old. "My whole life has been preparing for this moment," he wrote.

His first speech as head of government was also his most famous

His first speech as prime minister became his most famous. “Our goal is victory. Victory at any price, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be, because without victory there is no survival. "With the words:" I have nothing to offer you but blood, hardship, tears and sweat “He mobilized the people. Since then Churchill has been quoted when the West is supposed to defend its freedoms. George W. Bush had his bust in the Oval Office. Barack Obama put them away again.

Confident on the outside, but full of self-doubt on the inside

Churchill is debated in films and books, exhibitions and commemorative events on the anniversary. But behind the confident facade hid a man full of fears and self-doubt. He loved the whiskey, suffered from mood swings and depression, was irascible and unpredictable. A BBC film described him as an “unscrupulous egoist” and “reckless opportunist” who would never have been chosen in our time of political correctness and secure careers, where image and quick headline success count more than principle and foresight. “He alone had enormous power in his hands, that wouldn't work today,” says film writer Jeremy Paxman. A chorus of contradiction ran through the press.

After the war, the British voted him out

Right after the war, the British voted out Churchill. They thought a Labor government would be better suited to building the peace. Churchill, who already suspected the Cold War, suggested that Europe merge to form the “United States of Europe”. It was a matter of course for him that Great Britain would not be a “friend and sponsor” of this new Europe. In 1951 he became prime minister again. By then he was writing the history of the world war. As a motto he wrote about it: “Determination in war. Despite defeat. Magnanimity in victory. In peace, indulgence. "

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