“There is no security, no safety, in the appeasement of evil.” — President Ronald Reagan —
November 1914 – London, England – The world is at war. The British War Council is conducting a strategic meeting. The confident 40-year-old political head of the Royal Navy proposes a bold and reckless plan to strike Ottoman enemies more than 1,000 miles to east. He convinces the Council to thread his naval fleet through the needle of the Dardanelles, the narrow 38-mile strait that separates Europe and Asia in northwest Turkey. The plan is to seize Constantinople (called Istanbul today) and gain control of the waterways linking the Black Sea in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
March 1915 – The Dardanelles – A fleet of 13 British battleships arrives at Gallipoli and begins their assault on enemy forces who have secured positions along the steep cliffs of the strait. British troops are slaughtered as they attempt to land upon the shore. The head of the Royal Navy is humiliated. Although everyone in Europe believes that the young man’s political and military future has been destroyed, his failure will prepare him for a future challenge that will change the course of history.
November 1915 – The man who failed at Gallipoli becomes a soldier. He resigns from the government, picks up a rifle, and heads to the front-line trenches in France as an infantry officer. After several brushes with death, he returns home in 1917.
Mid 1930’s, – Berlin – A failed artist from Austria who served as a corporal during WWI slowly gains power in Germany with visions of mass conquest. As Adolph Hitler obtains more control over Germany and begins a massive military buildup, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the leaders of other European countries do nothing except appease him by giving him land and futile attempts to “negotiate” with the dictator.
The man who failed at Gallipoli returns from his self imposed exile. He begins to openly warn the world that appeasing Hitler is weak, dangerous, and futile.
September 1st, 1939 – German Panzer divisions (tanks) and Luftwaffe aircraft bombers mobilize and invade Poland as unprepared British and French leaders simply watch. WW II begins.
After German successes in the east accumulate, Hitler turns his attention to the west. Panzer divisions commanded by the best German general, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, invade Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands with lightning speed as a prelude to their assault on France.
Hopeless, the British leaders turn to a man who drinks throughout the day, is despised by Parliament, defines stubbornness, and is still blamed for the disaster at Gallipoli.
Winston Churchill accepts the offer and becomes prime minister in 1940. Adolph Hitler experiences fear for the first time during the war. He knows that he is now dealing with a warrior who will not appease him under any circumstances.
September 7th, 1940 – The mighty Luftwaffe begins to unleash incendiary bombs over London. The raids are soon extended to other cities on the island. The bombing becomes especially intensive through October and November of 1940.
Before and during the months of continued bombing, Churchill was asked to surrender by Germany, powerful people in Britain, his War Cabinet, and others. He actually pondered the idea until King George visited him during his darkest hour and suggested that he go to the people.
After Churchill visits with the people of London on subways and streets, he sees that they believe in him, will not tolerate further appeasement, and will never surrender. This gives the stubborn and steadfast man renewed confidence.
After eight months of relentless bombing by the Luftwaffe, Hitler realizes that Churchill will not surrender and stops the bombing. The plans for an amphibious landing by German troops are abandoned as well. Soon, an angry Adolph Hitler will make the biggest mistake in military history by launching Operation Barbarossa; the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Sir Winston Churchill was one of the most unique, intriguing, and unlikely heroes during WWII. He would provide the best example in history of how the policy of appeasement is dangerous and naïve when engaging a brutal dictator.
His name, lesson, and legacy will not be forgotten.