One of the most significant figures in world history, Winston Churchill was born in November 1874 into a wealthy, aristocratic family in Oxfordshire. A statesman, soldier and Nobel Prize-winning writer, he had a powerful personality and was a brilliant orator. Wartime Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945, when he rallied the country against Nazi Germany, and then after the war from 1951 to 1955, he was a Member of Parliament for more than sixty years, mostly in the Conservative Party.
from war to politics
As a young man, Churchill fought in the British army against the Boers in South Africa in the 1890s. He returned to Britain a hero and went into politics. Some years later, as Home Secretary, he supported prison reform and workers’ social security. In the First World War, now with war responsibilities, he ordered the disastrous Gallipoli military campaign in present-day Turkey. Chastened, he returned to the army to fight. Another failure came in 1926 when, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he introduced economic changes which led to exports collapsing and a catastrophic general strike.
The 1930s were Churchill’s Wilderness Years, when he was an irrelevant political figure. He wrote articles and made speeches, many calling for rearmament against Nazi Germany, to general ridicule. But World War Two began in September 1939 and by May 1940, Britain and its allies were losing the war. Churchill became Prime Minister and formed a coalition government. He was an inspirational leader. His self-confidence (he called himself “a man of destiny”) and strong leadership helped take the country from near-defeat to glorious victory. His speeches stimulated British morale during periods of great hardship. He electrified Parliament with his very first speech: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
"Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it.
But there it is."
Churchill was a complex character. He suffered from depression (his “black dog”). An imperialist and monarchist, he could also be racist. Economically liberal, he was socially a conservative, but supported working-class rights. An animal lover, his pets included cats, dogs, pigs, goats and lambs. He was an excellent amateur painter and also a prolific writer, especially on World War Two: for his “mastery of historical and biographical description”, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. Another of his hobbies was bricklaying, strangely enough, and he was also a heavy drinker.
the Iron Curtain
Churchill spent much of the late 1940s and 1950s warning of Russia’s “Iron Curtain” (his phrase) dividing Europe. He also promoted European unity. He was Prime Minister again from 1951 to 1955, but his powers were clearly waning. He died on 24 January 1965 and received a state funeral. Huge, silent crowds lined the streets of London as his coffin passed by. They knew that Churchill, twenty years earlier, had played a major role in saving Britain from Nazi tyranny.
"Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught."
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Fue primer ministro de 1940 a 1945 y más tarde de 1951 a 1955, lideró el país durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, que acabó con la victoria del Reino Unido. En este vídeo te contamos su trayectoria política.