114

If you, as a nation, have the capability to decode communications, then why give that up? This is a fallacious assumption, and probably the source of your confusion. Destroying the bombes did not amount to the British "giving up" their code breaking capabilities, as the bombes were essentially mechanical ASICs, designed specifically to break the encryption ...


72

During that period, both Churchill and Roosevelt were old men more used to hand written letters than "high technology" teletype writers. Teletype writers are NOISY! Using teletype writers can be a slow process & thus make a l-o-n-g conversation. Telephones, despite sophisticated encryption technology, are immediate and more intimate. In ...


33

Stalin made the suggestion of executing 50,000 German officers at the Tehran Conference in 1943. The story was reported by President Roosevelt’s son Elliot and in Churchill's memoirs after the war. It's worth noting that Stalin had ordered the execution of some 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn earlier in the war. The discovery of the bodies of these officers ...


33

It appears that Churchill was not at first aware of the meaning of the offensive version of the gesture. While he had no title, he was very much an aristocrat, and his insight into the behaviour of the British lower classes was fairly limited. This is plausible: the UK was far more stratified by social class than it is today, which is still quite a lot ...


29

In The Gathering Storm, Churchill describes the key scene with Chamberlain and Lord Halifax thus: At eleven o'clock I was again summoned to Downing Street by the Prime Minister. There once again I found Lord Halifax. ... [The Prime Minister] told us that he was satisfied that it was beyond his power to form a National Government. ... The question therefore, ...


28

Most people who worked on Enigma code-breaking didn't know the real name of the system, or the scale of the effort being made. That contributed to the secret of the breaking of Enigma being kept until the 1970s. So "appearing less threatening" is a non-issue. The few nations who know, already know, and have better cryptography. Nobody else knows. The ...


18

If you, as a nation, have the capability to decode communications, then why give that up? This is independent of whether or not the Enigma machines were destroyed -- that ability should, if nothing else, discourage others from even trying, or at least give a head start in case someone did try to use encrypted communications. The knowledge that your ...


18

The speech was part of a secret session briefing on the situation in North Africa on 10 December 1942. The original papers are held at the UK National Archives under reference PREM3/442/12. That quote was part of a section that read: “I now turn to examine a peculiar form of French mentality, or rather of the mentality of a large proportion of Frenchmen ...


15

In brief, Churchill became a PM because Lord Halifax did not want the job (at that particular time). The details of exactly why he did not want the job vary a bit from one account to another, but all accounts paint a very consistent picture. There is a lovely description of this story, with references, in the Wikipedia article on Lord Halifax. In particular:...


15

Mushroom is used here as a metaphor/analogy for appearing suddenly, growing fast to immense sizes, seemingly out of nowhere — but also not being a producer — of new/primary biomass, rather a destruent, decomposer or consumer —, not from a solid base, not stable in itself, prone to disappearing as fast they came into view. This of course only understands the ...


14

For a print work I recommend Francis L. Loewenheim, Harold D. Langley, & Manfred Jonas, Editors; Roosevelt and Churchill: Their Secret Wartime Correspondence, Dutton, 1975. Contains some 600 or so of the more than 1700 cable messages which passed between Roosevelt and Churchill from shortly after the start of the war in 1939 until April 1945. Or if you ...


11

I'd like to add some second-hand context to Paul Rowe's first-hand context. England of the early 20th Century had a very different perspective about technology than we do today. Our most recent innovations have brought the public things like the Internet and ubiquitous cheap connectivity. Theirs had most recently brought mustard gas and automatic weaponry, ...


9

That was the peace offer, it was essentially repeating a similar offer made in October 1939. Halifax's reply is here. Its content isn't especially remarkable, although coming from Lord Halifax, who had proposed suing for peace in May, was important.


9

There was a civil war in Spain shortly before World War II that was a "testing ground" for the main war. That is, the Axis powers and the Soviet Union supported the Nationalist and Republican sides respectively, and got to test some tactics. The main German contribution was the Condor Legion that was (secretly) trained in Germany and operated in Spain, ...


9

Why did Churchill choose de Gaulle to lead the French resistance? (and was it really up to Churchill to decide?) Churchill could decide among what he had available. De Gaulle was in the UK, had the will to continue the war, had shown that he had initiative. He had got some fame during the war. Here his relatively lower rank could even be an advantage; a ...


8

It was precisely the strategic bombing campaign that Mussolini's forces based in Majorca unleashed against Catalan cities which attracted a great deal of attention by British observers. A number of both military officers and politicians and civil servants tried to learn as much as possible about the possible countermeasures and the bombing's impact on ...


7

As per a few comments here: They weren't all destroyed. Reading a few books on the times there's strong hints that at least some capability was retained - both Bombes and more advanced equipment. The Brits captured many Enigma machines and also the more advanced Lorenz (if memory serves) which they could also break. Both were either used by/sold to allies ...


7

tl;dr Was the loss of life in the Bengal famine of 1943 the largest British empire human loss in the Second World War? Yes, without doubt. Did Churchill expressly refuse to alleviate the famine with food aid, or veto US and Australian offers to send food? Absolutely not. The evidence shows that statement is completely untrue, although it might be argued ...


7

The person who would replace Chamberlain had to form a National Coalition, and, hence, had to have Labour backing. Labour leadership did not back Halifax because of his prior appeasement policies, so even though the Labour NEC did not express a preferred PM, Labour would support Churchill over Halifax. In addition, Halifax had both personal ailments and was ...


6

Semaphore pointed out historical examples. I believe the context (thank you for providing the link) also helps. The following are all quotes from that same speech. The disastrous military events which have happened during the past fortnight have not come to me with any sense of surprise. The Admiralty had confidence at that time in their ability to prevent ...


6

In the original speech, Churchill said "by the lights of a perverted science". He may perhaps have been speaking about Hitler's pure-bred Aryan superbeings, and the now discredited but then accepted science or pseudo-science of eugenics - the creation of an improved human race through select breeding of the finest specimens. The "lights" of this perverted ...


5

It is a long speech, roughly 4,000 words, of which I doubt more than a paragraph or two is repeated in the movie (which I have not yet seen). Churchill was an accomplished orator, likely one of the best ever in the history of the English language. Part of that skill is matching the emotion of the message to the emotion of the delivery. In a speech calling ...


5

That may be a simple geographical error. That happens to the best. However as Semaphore commented: "It isn't a geographical error. He didn't say "draw a straight line from…" In fact, in Europe at least, borders are almost never straight lines. He was simply stating that an "Iron Curtain" was being put in place that meandered across Europe (following the then ...


4

It's a stretch (that's what comes of translation) but perhaps: Those who are prone, by temperament and character, to seek sharp and clear-cut solutions of difficult and obscure problems, who are ready to fight whenever some challenge comes from a foreign power, have not always been right. On the other hand, those whose inclination is to bow their ...


4

As another answerer pointed out, the context was the difference between the willingness of the British and the French to carry on the struggle against the Germans from their overseas (e.g. African) colonies, and specifically on during Operation Torch. The differences were best summed up in Wikipedia article on France's Descartes: Descartes laid the ...


4

A BBC article from 15 Feb 2017, Winston Churchill's views on aliens revealed in lost essay on the same subject has a relevant detail (emphasis mine): Dr Livio told BBC News that there were no firm plans to publish the article because of issues surrounding the copyright. However, he said the Churchill Museum was working to resolve these so that the ...


3

The destruction of the Colossus code breaking computers was a more significant thing, I gather the reasoning was the if the machines were retained other powers would pursue such technology. Britain had their own cipher machine typeX, there was some fear that if the cipher breaking machines became general knowledge then other powers would develop it and be ...


3

A large part of the issue was that de Gaulle (born 1890) was one of the few French leaders who was the optimal age (around 50) for generalship and national leadership. Foreign contemporaries in this group include America's Dwight Eisenhower (1890), Britain's John Verreker, Lord Gort (1886), and Germany's Erwin Rommel (1890). Adolf Hitler himself was born a ...


3

I don't know if that counts as a full answer, but it might be worth more than a comment. De Gaulle was one of the French proponents of armored warfare. France lost partially due to its insistence on diluting tanks amongst infantry units, which De Gaulle had argued against. On the other hand Germany won precisely by following the type of warfare that had ...


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