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Author Topic: Churchill wanted to electrocute Hitler
snopes
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Churchill was determined to send Adolf Hitler to the electric chair if he was ever captured and believed that senior Nazis should be summarily executed without the benefit of a trial, according to recently released papers.

http://news.scotsman.com/uk.cfm?id=1422006

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Senior
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Churchill was an anti-Nazi long before it became fashionable. During the 1930s he would warn anyone who would listen about the danger that Hitler was. One reason Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940 was because he could say "I told you so" since for years he had loudly told them so.

Hitler became Chancellor on January 30, 1933. The Reichstag Fire was the night of February 27-28, 1933. On March 10, 1933, Churchill made a speech in the House of Commons which included:
quote:
It appears that democracy is dead in Germany and a dictatorship is being established. We may hope that Herr Hitler will remain on good terms with the rest of Europe, but when we consider what is happening in Germany, this may be a vain hope...The Germans are looking for revanche for the Great War. Britain can only hope that Germany's revanche does not lead to another war.¹
On August 23, 1935, Churchill made a speech to the British Legion:
quote:
Hitler is not content with rebuilding the German Army, he intends to use it against his neighbours. He will not rest until he has conquered all of Europe.²
Again, in a speech to the House of Commons on March 18, 1935:
quote:
The Rheinland is only the first of Hitler's conquests. He will ultimately attack all of Europe.³
¹Stephen Elliot. Britain Between the Wars, London: Ian Allen, 1958, page 88.
²William L. Shirer. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1969, page 52.
³D. Cameron Watt. How War Came, New York: Pantheon, 1989, page 19.

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Unusual Elfin Lights
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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
Churchill was determined to send Adolf Hitler to the electric chair if he was ever captured and believed that senior Nazis should be summarily executed without the benefit of a trial, according to recently released papers.

This was front page news here in New Brunswick the other day. I'm so glad they brought that out, my life was incomplete before this.

It is interesting, although not surprising.

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Nexus
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Here's my first thought (and most descriptive):
"...And?"

It was the mood of most of the people in the Allied war effort. While a great thinker and politician, Churchill was very earthy too. I would find it strange if he had not just wanted them fried without trial.

As UEL said, interesting but not surprising.

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Johnny Slick
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I do think it's strange that he didn't want trials. The Nuremburg Trials made Churchill's legacy as much as the war itself did by making crystal clear that the atrocities committed by the Nazis in this war outweighed the atrocities in just about every other war in the history of mankind. In fact, I think that Goring and Hitler took the easy way out by committing suicide.

In addition, I always thought of Churchill as a big law and order guy. It's rather disappointing that he was just another right-winger, discernable from some of the fascists only by the country he lionized.

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The Rubber Chicken
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quote:
In addition, I always thought of Churchill as a big law and order guy. It's rather disappointing that he was just another right-winger, discernable from some of the fascists only by the country he lionized.
That's an awfully quick and harsh judgement to make. Putting foreign heads of state on trial for war crimes was not the norm before the Nuremburg Trials. Even the notion of "war crimes," although codified prior to the war, was not developed with a judiciary system yet. The Geneva and Hague Convenctions make signatory countries responsible for abiding by the laws they set out, but they did not say that individual officials from those countries could be put on trial. Churchill's comment that any trial of Hitler would be a farce was probably true. I don't see how Churchill's determination to execute him shows he was "just another right-winger," and in the same league as fascists. When there is no precedent, and indeed there were few precedents in WWII, it is not nearly as clear as it is now what to do. I'm not saying it is wrong to criticize the guy, but perhaps we ought to temper it with a little historical context.

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Christie
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And bear in mind as well that much of what was discussed was in the nature of "bull sessions" and we are missing out on much by not knowing the tone of voice or the facial expressions. I'm sure he was perfectly serious in his desire to have Hitler die but not so sure that he was truly serious about the method! I can imagine that many British people (and not just Churchill) spent some time during the war years discussing ways in which they'd best like Hitler meet his maker - in gory detail.

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Johnny Slick
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by The Rubber Chicken:
quote:
In addition, I always thought of Churchill as a big law and order guy. It's rather disappointing that he was just another right-winger, discernable from some of the fascists only by the country he lionized.
That's an awfully quick and harsh judgement to make. Putting foreign heads of state on trial for war crimes was not the norm before the Nuremburg Trials. Even the notion of "war crimes," although codified prior to the war, was not developed with a judiciary system yet. The Geneva and Hague Convenctions make signatory countries responsible for abiding by the laws they set out, but they did not say that individual officials from those countries could be put on trial. Churchill's comment that any trial of Hitler would be a farce was probably true. I don't see how Churchill's determination to execute him shows he was "just another right-winger," and in the same league as fascists. When there is no precedent, and indeed there were few precedents in WWII, it is not nearly as clear as it is now what to do. I'm not saying it is wrong to criticize the guy, but perhaps we ought to temper it with a little historical context.
Context understood. All's I'm saying is, this story is not the snoozefest some make it out to be.

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Anwndur
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quote:
Originally posted by Johnny Slick:
In addition, I always thought of Churchill as a big law and order guy. It's rather disappointing that he was just another right-winger, discernable from some of the fascists only by the country he lionized.

Which country did Churchill lionise?

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lazerus the duck
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We also have to remember he was the first person to suggest gassing the kurds, slightly earlier that Saddam, and he described them as sub-human.
Just because he was a good war time leader doesn't make him a nice person.

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Stoneage Dinosaur
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quote:
Originally posted by lazerus the duck:
We also have to remember he was the first person to suggest gassing the kurds, slightly earlier that Saddam, and he described them as sub-human.
Just because he was a good war time leader doesn't make him a nice person.

Not quite - he described them as uncivilised, and his plan was to minimise fatalities. According to Wikiquote:

quote:
I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. We have definitely adopted the position at the Peace Conference of arguing in favour of the retention of gas as a permanent method of warfare. It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. The moral effect should be so good that the loss of life should be reduced to a minimum. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected... We cannot, in any circumstances acquiesce to the non-utilisation of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier.


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The Goof
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How shocking.

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Actually, though there is definitely a strong tone of ethnocentrism in the statement (not surprising, considering the time period), what Churchill was arguing for was actually the minimization of casualties by the use of gas--nonlethal, if feasible.

We know now that this is unrealistic at best, but his intent here was very, very different than Saddam's intent in gassing the Kurds. The comparison of the two is flawed at best.

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