Churchill Offers Toil And Tears To FDR

The world-shaping relationship between these two giants got off to a rocky start

Often it is said that vast long-range economic and social forces, not the efforts of leading individuals alone, make history. The course of World War II denies this seemingly rational thesis. Hitler began World War II; he and his principal adversaries—Britain’s Winston Churchill, America’s Franklin Roosevelt, and Russia’s Joseph Stalin—determined the conflict’s course and outcome. While the latter two effectively won the war in 1945, Churchill played a significant role by not losing it in 1940 and 1941.Read more »

Through The Front Door

One Man’s March

I long thought that my husband, Forrest, should write his story for this column, but since he passed away recently, the task falls to me. I’ll try to tell his story and a little bit of my own.

Forrest, an African-American, grew up in rural Alabama in a family of sharecroppers. He came of age in the late 1960s. I grew up in the same era, but in an affluent Northern suburb. I am white. Read more »

Lost Opportunity

An Exception to the Rule

In the 1950s and ’60s I had the good fortune to live in New York City, right across from Riverside Park. Our 325-acre back yard offered sledding in winter, and for the rest of the year I could race my Schwinn throughout the park. I was allowed to roam freely as long as I promised never to talk to strangers. If you obey no other rule, my mother used to say, obey this one. (I thought that was a good deal and obeyed no other rules.) Read more »

“How Would You Like To Be Attached To The Red Army?”

A cameraman at Yalta tells what it was like to spend a few days in claustrophobic luxury with Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt— and to be offered a job by Joseph Stalin

 

Robert Hopkins was 15 years old when he first met Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the inauguration of New York’s Triborough Bridge in 1936. His father, Harry Hopkins, ran the WPA, which had built the bridge. Of course Hopkins remained FDR ‘s close lieutenant throughout the war, and once, as a newly minted GI, Robert was able to return late to Fort Dix bearing this note:

November 30,1941

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN :

The Churchill-Roosevelt Forgeries

The campaign to revise Hitler’s reputation has gone on for 50 years, but there’s another strategy now. Some of it is built on the work of the head of the Gestapo—who may have enjoyed a comfortable retirement in America.

RECENTLY, ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, the American public has been made aware of evidence of plagiarism practiced, alas, by celebrated American historians. This is regrettable, but nothing new. All kinds of writers have borrowed and, worse, stolen from others through the ages. Plagiarism is a forgery of sorts, a little like the forging of a signature on a work of art. Other forgeries are less easily detectable. Moreover, the purposes of a historian’s plagiarism and of a historical forgery are different.Read more »

America And The Holocaust

The United States and FDR watched the extermination of the Jews with such total indifference that they were actually accomplices— or so says a growing number of historians. Is this true?

It was Winston Churchill’s judgment that the Holocaust “was probably the greatest and most terrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world.” The Holocaust, of course, was part of a colossal struggle in which fifty-three million people were killed, where nations were decimated, where democracy’s survival was in the balance. In his campaign to exterminate the Jews of Europe, Hitler and his Nazi followers murdered six million men, women, and children for no other reason than that they were Jewish. Read more »

“That Hell-hole Of Yours”

In 1943 Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Britain’s poorest, most dismal African colony, and what he saw there fired him with a fervor that helped found the United Nations

President Franklin D. Roosevelt did not look favorably on European colonialism. Like most Americans, he believed that the self-determination clause of the 1941 Atlantic Charter should apply to all peoples, not just Europeans. In the war’s early years he so disagreed with Britain’s prime minister, Winston Churchill, on the future of the British Empire that the two heads of state tacitly agreed to avoid discussing the topic.Read more »

The Man of the Century

Of all the Allied leaders, argues FDR s biographer, only Roosevelt saw clearly the shape of the new world they were fighting to create

AFTER HALF A CENTURY IT IS HARD TO APPROACH FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT EXCEPT through a minefield of clichés. Theories of FDR, running the gamut from artlessness to mystification, have long paraded before our eyes. There is his famous response to the newspaperman who asked him for his philosophy: “Philosophy? I am a Christian and a Democrat—that’s all”; there is Robert E. Sherwood’s equally famous warning about “Roosevelt’s heavily forested interior”; and we weakly conclude that both things were probably true. Read more »

The Transatlantic Duel: Hitler Vs. Roosevelt

In 1941 the President understood better than many Americans the man who was running Germany, and Hitler understood Roosevelt and his country better than we knew

In the summer of 1940 the fate of the world depended on the duel between two men: Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill. It was a duel of nerves, and of wills. Churchill carried it off, because Hitler finally chose not to invade Britain. But even before he made that decision, he and Churchill were aware that this was no longer a duel between the two of them. Before the fall of France, Hitler had gained an ally, Mussolini. Before the Battle of Britain Churchill had gained the support of Roosevelt.Read more »