It was interesting to see Winston Churchill’s paper, in which he and Joseph Stalin carved up eastern Europe after the end of the Second World War, go on public display for the first time. (The Telegraph 2 April 2019).
Churchill called this paper his “naughty document, not for public eyes” because he was well aware of how it could come across as “callous”. Churchill and Stalin had met in October 1944, over a few glasses of whiskey, and had come to an agreement on how to share Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Romania between Russia and the West after Hitler had been defeated.
But the publication of this “naughty document” was over-shadowed by the announcement today of the discovery of the original version of Churchill’s 1939 diary. This astonishing document, in Churchill’s own handwriting, records secret meetings held just days before the outbreak of World War Two.
Of particular interest to us Israelis, with many commentators claiming that there is no military solution to the Gaza Strip Problem, is the meeting held with his senior military advisors.
The German problem is growing daily, Churchill told the crowded meeting room. Hitler must be stopped. What do you suggest? The Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) – that was the title of the head of the British Army before Britain stopped its occupation of the lands that made up the empire – tried to catch Churchill’s attention through the thick clouds of cigar smoke.
Prime Minister, it is the Army’s opinion that there is no military solution to the German Problem.
Churchill was quiet for a few minutes. No military solution? H’m, we could bomb Germany, destroy its industrial and domestic centers. We could use “saturation” bombing to target all their industry, not just factories making war munitions.
No, no, no, “saturation” bombing would destroy civilian portions of cities, not just troop areas. There is no military solution.
We could bomb Dresden, wipe it off the map. That would show them we are serious.
No, no, no, Dresden is neither important to German wartime production nor a major industrial center. And it would leave the city was a smoldering ruin with as many as 135,000 innocent civilians might be hurt. There is no military solution.
We could bomb their dams, destroy their water supply and their electrical generators. We could call it operation “Chastise” to show that we really did meant to hurt Germany. I know just the Guy for the job!
No, no, no, we might damage some trees, some cows might be hurt. There is no military solution.
So, what is the military’s advice? How do we deal with the German Problem?
As there is no military solution, we suggest sending a secret agent to Berlin to infiltrate the inner workings of Mr. Hitler’s kitchen. The agent would bring back a sample of Mr. Hitler’s favorite coffee. You, Prime Minister, could then invite him for coffee in Downing Street and ask him what he really wants. How much of England would he be prepared to accept in exchange for peace and friendship.
We do not know how Churchill received this advice, the last page of the diary is unreadable with signs of a large cigar being stubbed out.