75 Years Ago

The following is courtesy of Bill Kristol — it’s the text from part of his Weekly Standard email sent yesterday:

Seventy-five years ago today (as I write), on May 10, 1940, Nazi Germany invaded Holland and Belgium. The Conservative prime minister Neville Chamberlain was rebuffed by Labour in his request to join him in a National Government, and at 6 p.m., the King asked Winston Churchill to form a government. Churchill immediately did so. Here’s the last paragraph of Churchill’s account of that day in the final chapter of The Gathering Storm:

“During the last crowded days of the political crisis, my pulse had not quickened at any moment. I took it all as it came. But I cannot conceal from the reader of this truthful account that as I went to bed at about 3 A. M., I was conscious of a profound sense of relief. At last I had the authority to give directions over the whole scene. I felt as if I were walking with Destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and for this trial. Eleven years in the political wilderness had freed me from ordinary party antagonisms. My warnings over the last six years had been so numerous, so detailed, and were now so terribly vindicated, that no one could gainsay me. I could not be reproached either for making the way or with want of preparation for it. I thought I knew a good deal about it all, and I was sure I should not fail. Therefore, although impatient for the morning, I slept soundly and had no need for cheering dreams. Facts are better than dreams.”

He was, as we said in our January 3, 2000, issue, the man of the century. Read the tributes from that issue by David Frum and Christopher Mathews, as well as remarks made by Leo Strauss upon Churchill’s death.

Image: Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain.