Winston Churchill par Hugh Trevor-Roper

November 29 2014

Hugh Trevor-Roper broadcasting in French on France Culture radio on April 14 1967. It isn’t clear to me who the live audience is and whether invited or public, nor why he was asked, or chose, to speak about Churchill. He worked at MI6 during the war, but never met Churchill, though he came to know Randolph later. He admired Churchill’s life of Marlborough.

He was, at the time of this lecture, taking a strong stand against the proposed London staging of a play by Rolf Hochhuth which alleged that Churchill had been responsible for the death of the Polish prime minister, General Sikorski, in a plane crash in 1943. In April 1943 the Germans had announced the discovery of mass graves filled with the bodies of thousands of Polish prisoners of war murdered by the Soviets at Katyn Forest in 1940. Churchill, it was alleged, feared that Sikorski’s questions would damage Britain’s relations with Russia. The holocaust-denier David Irving was a friend of Hochhuth and in on the controversy.

Soon afterwards, Trevor-Roper would be on the editorial board, with Sir Mortimer Wheeler, AJP Taylor and others, of a magazine issued in 112 weekly parts by Purnell (1969-71) based on the text of Churchill’s History of the English-Speaking Peoples.

He isn’t really speaking French, but Trevor-Roper lecturese. Lectures were not his best medium. That was the essay.

Another lecture:

Hugh Trevor-Roper on Walter Scott.

2 Responses to “Winston Churchill par Hugh Trevor-Roper”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    Waugh, Trevor-Roper and Churchill have something in common as writers of English.

    The life of Marlborough might have been another man’s life’s work.

  2. davidderrick Says:

    After the war, the belief took hold in the West that the Katyn massacres had been perpetrated by Germans. This is now known to be false.

    Hochhuth’s play (Soldiers, An Obituary for Geneva) was written as a discussion of the ethics of the area bombing of civilian areas by the Royal Air Force, with particular reference to Operation Gomorrah, the raids on Hamburg in 1943. This was forgotten in the controversy about Sikorski. The play culminated in a long invented debate between Churchill and the pacifist Bishop of Chichester, George Bell. David Irving had first come to notice in 1963 with a book about the bombing of Dresden.

    The 1967 premiere at the National Theatre was cancelled, but the play was produced in the West End in the following year.


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