rotating gif.gifGo to World History II.25 for information about Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin

Sir Winston Churchill (November 30, 1874 - January 24, 1965)

Quill_and_ink.pngChurchill received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. Winston Churchill’s leadership changed his country's military approach from defensiveness to aggressive attack and so altered the course of World War II and world history.

game_icon.svg.pngChurchill and the Great Republic, an interactive exhibit from the Library of Congress

  • Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940. He soon rallied the nation, declaring that they would "fight on the beaches" to prevent a German victory; there would be no surrender for the United Kingdom.
  • One of Churchill's greatest political strengths was his ability to accurately predict what would happen around the globe.
  • Towards the end of World War II, Churchill knew it would take another bloody conflict to prevent the USSR from spreading Communism to the countries of Eastern Europe; a proposition Churchill, nor FDR, wanted to consider.
  • At the Yalta Conference in February, 1945, Churchill fought hard for the liberated nations of Europe to become democracies, an idea that did not still well with Premier Stalin.
  • Churchill had many reservations about Communist Russia and shortly after World War II ended in 1945, Churchill began speaking out against the "Iron Curtain" of the Soviet Union.
  • His major postwar plan was to prevent the spread of Communism around the globe. Churchill also wished to safeguard and preserve the British Empire after the war, retaining its colonial possessions (including India). The U.S., on the other hand, was not interested in defending Great Britain's imperial ambitions.

Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Cairo Conference, 1943
Chiang Kai-shek, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Cairo Conference, 1943

Primary Sources

primary_sources.PNG Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat speech by Winston Churchill, May 13, 1940.
Multimedia.png Click here to listen to speech on YouTube

primary_sources.PNG"Iron Curtain" speech by Winston Churchill (1946).
Multimedia.pngClick here to see clips from the speech on YouTube.

Multimedia Resources


Clementine Churchill, 1915
Clementine Churchill, 1915


Clementine Churchill

Clementine Churchill: A Summary

How Clementine Churchill Wielded Influence as Winston's Wife, NPR (December 31, 2015)

Book Review: Clementine: The Life of Mrs, Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell (New York Times, December 4, 2015)

Clementine Churchill: Pictures and Images

Rotating_globe-small.gifFor a different historical perspective, see the book Churchill's Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made, Richard Toye (Henry Holt & Company, 2010).
  • Reviewing the book in The New York Times Book Review, Johann Hari (August 15, 2010, p. 11) states "Winston Churchill is remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour--but what if he led the country through her most shameful one? What if, in addition to rousing a nation to save the world from the Nazis, he fought for a raw white supremacy and a concentration camp network of his own?"
  • Historian Richard Toye concludes that even at the time (early 20th century), "Churchill was seen as standing at the most brutal and brutish end of the British imperialist spectrum" (in his approach to the Mau Mau and Kikuyu uprisings in Kenya and Gandhi's campaign for Indian independence).