This week in the War, 16–22 June 1941: If Hitler invaded Hell…

Churchill [Public domain, IWM, wiki]

Churchill [Public domain, IWM, wiki]

“If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons,” Churchill joked to his private secretary. This week in the war, on the evening of 22 June 1941, Churchill broadcast a speech addressing the momentous  turn of events: the fact that Hitler’s Germany had invaded the Soviet Union.

“Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust for blood and plunder,” Churchill told listeners across the world.

Despite his experts’ gloomy forecasts as to how long the Russians could hold out, he was optimistic.

Churchill named what he saw as the four great turning points of the war thus far: (1) the disastrous fall of France, (2) the RAF’s triumph in the Battle of Britain, (3) Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease, and (4) Hitler’s latest aggression, this time on an unprecedented scale, against the Soviet Union.

Churchill did not mince words. “I see also the dull, drilled, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery plodding on like a swarm of locusts.” The speech is quoted in its entirety by Graham Stewart in his book His Finest Hours—The War Speeches of Winston Churchill (Quercus, London. 2007).

Despite being a fervent anti-Bolshevik, Churchill declared that the Soviet Union, or any other state that stood up to Nazism, could count on Britain’s aid. As always in such broadcasts, he made reference to America, declaring that Russia’s danger was Britain’s, too, and that of the United States.

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