Friday, December 14, 2012

Winston Churchill: His Greatest Speeches

English: Sir Winston Churchill.
Sir Winston Churchill (Wikipedia)
by Rubel Zaman

During his long and glorious career in politics, Sir Winston Churchill delivered thousands of speeches, but none are more revered and iconic than his early war-time deliveries.

His rhetoric in the months before the Battle of Britain when Nazism was sweeping across Europe were instrumental in inspiring the British people to stand up against their adversaries in what was the beginning of six long years of war before the eventual Allied victory of the Second World War.

Forty seven years after his death these speeches have lost none of their power, they remain just as moving and poignant as when they were written.

Let's take a moment to reflect on Churchill's three most famous Battle of Britain speeches.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

Churchill's 'Blood Sweat, and Tears' speech was the first he made to the House of Commons after taking over as Prime Minister from Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940. It was also the first speech that spoke to the British shorty before the blitz while the Battle of France was taking place.

His claim that "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" was his dedication to the new role he had received and a clear indication that Britain would never surrender, backed up by his iconic claim of "You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory".

We Shall Fight on the Beaches

The "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech was the second of three legendary addresses Churchill gave to the House of Commons shortly before the blitz occurred. When he gave this address on 4 June 1940; a lot had happened in Europe since the "Blood Sweat, and Tears speech five weeks earlier.

This time Churchill had to explain to the British people about the catastrophic loss of several western-European countries to Nazism, the likelihood of France's fall to Nazism, and the possibility of an Axis invasion attempt on the UK.

However, once again through powerful delivery and strong wordplay, he managed to inspire the British people towards triumph by creating a sense of national unity, announcing "we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender". With these words the UK never reassessed their position again. Negotiating was not an option.

Their Finest Hour

After France fell to Nazism in June of 1940, Churchill stood once more before the House of Commons of the Parliament and again pledged to fight the Nazi threat no matter what the consequence. Only this time he did so in the knowledge that Britain's ally France had signed an armistice with the Nazis.

During the speech Churchill made several important claims to the British public including his defense against accusations his government had not done enough to support the fallen French army and spoke of how he'd resisted pressure to expel those politicians in his cabinet who had continued to push for peace with Hitler.

Most amazingly though is that he did all this while preserving hope of a final victory by reminding the nation of Britain's victory over the seemingly all powerful German army twenty years earlier during the First World War.

Churchill's rhetoric and leadership was an essential motivational of the Allied victory, and made him the most iconic British politician to ever live. A legendary status helped along greatly by his unique image that became synonymous with British gentlemen's class and style.

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