Analysis: 5 of the worst crimes of Winston Churchill

Ben Wray

There’s no question of Churchill’s racism and crimes against humanity

SCOTTISH Green MSP Ross Greer has drawn the ire of such renowned historians as Good Morning Britain’s (GMB) Piers Morgan with his claims that Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill was a “white supremacist” and “mass murderer”.

In the end the GMB presenters seemed to decide that Greer wasn’t wrong about Churchill, simply that it was “so offensive” of him to recall the historical record.

But the real history of Churchill is an important one that tells us much about the history of British society. Above all else, Churchill was driven by his desire to defend the British Empire in its period of decline, and shore-up Britain’s global influence.

This was a bloody mission, full of violence and instances of the suppression of democratic rights and popular sovereignty, of which the following are just five examples.

Churchill was an exemplary and era-defining British imperialist, with a career that shocked even his own imperialist contemporaries for its brutality and racism.

Support for the rise of fascism

Churchill was militantly anti-working class both at home. As Home Secretary, he had deployed troops against miners before the war and across Europe, where he viewed the uprisings and revolutions by workers that ended WW1 with horror.

Like many members of the ruling class in his day, Churchill blamed Jews for “this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation and for the reconstitution of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality”.

Also like other members of the ruling elite, he supported the violent fascist and racist movements that rose up to oppose the workers’ movement.

His praise for Mussolini’s Italian fascist regiment was fulsome.
Visiting the dictatorship in 1927, he said: “If I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been wholeheartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”

“In the conflict between Fascism and Bolshevism,” he said, “there was no doubt where my sympathies and convictions lay.”

Of Mussolini he said: “…what a man! I have lost my heart!… Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world”. 

After in 1935, Chruchill expressed “admiration” for Hitler. He praised: “The courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him to…overcome all the…resistances which barred his path.”

Churchill made these comments as Hitler was killing those “resistances” and sending them to camps.

The Black and Tans

Churchill was one of the key persecutors of the Irish people during their revolution for national independence between 1916 and 1921, as secretary of state for war.

His Royal Irish Constabulary Special Reserve (or Black and Tans as they were known) and the Auxiliaries, were his signature achievement at this time.

These hastily assembled forces, mainly of former WW1 soldiers, terrorised the country and were responsible for many of the worst atrocities of the British states campaign in Ireland. These include the torching of Cork city and the massacre at Croke Park, when Auxiliaries gunned down sport fans in an unprovoked attack.

In the Ireland episode as in so many others, Churchill’s ideas for the brutalisation of Ireland stretched feasibility. Shelved initiatives included his support for air raids in Ireland, for which he suggested Irish rebels be bombed by planes.

Bombing Iraq

As secretary of state for the colonies in 1921, and at his newly established Middle East Department, he finally got to deploy his aerial bombing strategy.

It had the benefit of being cheaper than ground subjugation of the many uprisings by Arab and Kurdish tribes in the area of the modern state of Iraq.

It also allowed Churchill to experiment with the idea of using chemical weapons on the “uncivilised” natives.

He called for the use of “some kind of asphyxiating bombs” against Arabs, who he described as a “lower manifestation” of humanity, with his customary racist contempt.

His interest in chemical weapons also extended to India, of which he said: “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against the uncivilized tribes… it would spread a lively terror.”

The Bengal Famine

This entire article could be just about Churchill and the Empire’s destruction of India.

But Churchill’s signature crime took place during the Bengal Famine of 1943, when four million people died needlessly as Britain exported the regions food produce.

Churchill viewed India as a mighty reserve to be dipped into liberally for the purposes of defending the Empire during WW2 (in effect, to be exploited for the purposes of extending it’s own oppression). This included massive ‘loans’ of money to Britain from India, and the shipping of its food and other resource wealth around the Empire, including that of Bengal to the Middle East.

Churchill disgusted fellow members of the imperial administration with his sheer callousness during the resulting famine. Churchill, like many proponents of Empire, was steeped in theories of the racial superiority of white people and was full of contempt for imperial subjects he considered racial inferiors. He reserved a special hatred for the Indian people.

He said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” He said the Bengalis themselves were to blame for their starvation “for breeding like rabbits”.

Crushing the Greek resistance

Churchill’s strategy as Prime Minister during the war was tightly focused on the defence of the British Empire. At the onset of war his objections to Nazi Germany were not, as we have seen, to its ideological content and domestic actions.

They were to Nazi Germany’s expansionist ambitions. Churchill’s military strategy was geared towards the defence of the Empire, and for long he resisted the idea of opening a second front in Western Europe, as demanded by his allies in the US and USSR.

At the end of WW2, and again thinking of British geostrategic interests, he turned on whole swathes of the heroic resistance movements that had so undermined the Nazi occupation of ‘Fortress Europe’.

This new turn against national resistance movements was exemplified by British forces massacring 28 peaceful protesters and injuring 128 in Athens in December 1944, immediately following the Greek people’s ejection of Nazi forces.

He called Greek resistance fighters “miserable banditti”. Following the suppression of their movement, he aided the return of the country’s Right and expressed sympathy for Nazi collaborators, many of whom continued to be in powerful positions in the country thanks to Churchill’s intervention.

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