Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fascinating bit of Churchilliana

The Brits have declassified some documents that reveal some of the inner workings of Churchill's war cabinet. Among some of the things Churchill proposed were the idea of executing Hitler in the electric chair, and bombing German villages in counter-reprisal for the Nazi destruction of the Czech village of Lidice.

Here's a pointer to the source documents themselves. From p. 44:

W.M.(42)74th Meeting 15th June 1942

Reprisal for German Massacre of Village

P.M. Conversation with Benes about possibility of reprisal for savage cruelties now being practiced by Germans in Czechoslovakia. Suggested wiping out German villages (3 for 1) by air attack.
View of A.D. in C. Bomber Command. 100 bombers wd. be required. Low attack 2/3rds incendiaries. Bright moonlight wd. be reqrd. Objection & reasons shd. be announced aftwds.

F.O. in favour.

If thought worthwhile, give RAF discretion to fit it in when they can.

L.P.S. Is accuracy of report beyond doubt?

P.M. Germans announced.

S/S.Air. Disliked it. Diversion of effort fr. military objective. Risking aircraft & crews. Wd we not be led on to do it more & more – if Germans knew we wd. answer thus.

S/Doms. Doubt if it is useful to enter into competition in frightfulness with Germans.

H.O. Wd. like to consider – reprisals on English villages, where no shelter, & low scale a.r.p. Public wd. say “why did you draw this down on to us?”

C.A.S. If they came in low & not far inland they wd. run v. small risk.

F.O. Even so, there might be a deterrent element in this.

M/L. German responds to brute force & nothing else.

Bruce. It might lead to even greater atrocities in Czechoslovakia.

General view that it wd. be wise to think this over.

L.P. Danger is that it costs us something & them nothing. Against it.

General feeling of Cabinet – against doing this. (i.e. L.P., M/Inf., CO., H.O.)

PM My instinct is strongly the other way.

F.O. Strongest argument against – waste of a moonlight night. Bigger diversion than I had thought.

Amery. Why a village? Why not a quiet residential town?

L.P.S. Operational argument against is v. strong.

P.M. I submit (unwillingly) to the view of Cabinet against.

This may be a consequence of Brooks's shorthand, but note the rather dry and humorous - except for the context - tone of "Doubt if it is useful to enter into competition in frightfulness with Germans."

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