An original press photograph of Winston S. Churchill striding grimly past 10 Downing Street on 11 September 1938 during the Czechoslovakia crisis
An original press photograph of Winston S. Churchill striding grimly past 10 Downing Street on 11 September 1938 during the Czechoslovakia crisis

An original press photograph of Winston S. Churchill striding grimly past 10 Downing Street on 11 September 1938 during the Czechoslovakia crisis

London: Copyright Keystone View Company, published by The Daily Telegraph, 12 September 1938. Photograph. This original press photograph captures Winston S. Churchill striding grimly in front of 10 Downing Street during the Czechoslovakia crisis on 11 September 1938. This gelatin silver print on heavy matte photo paper measures 11.625 x 7.5 in (29.5 x 19 cm). Condition is very good. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of scratches, with some wear along the slightly irregularly trimmed edges. This photograph originally belonged to the working archives of The Daily Telegraph and features their Art Department’s original, hand-applied retouching to Churchill’s face and coat, as well as original crop markings. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “Keystone View Company”, a published stamp of The Daily Telegraph dated 12 SEP 1938 (as well as an erroneous, crossed out “21 SEPT 1938” stamp), handwritten printing notations, and a typed caption reading “Mr. Winston Churchill arriving at the F.O. yday.” Churchill spent much of the 1930s warning about the dangers of a rising Nazi Germany. By 1938 Churchill’s warnings became apparently prophetic as German troops prepared to invade Czechoslovakia. On 11 September, journalist William L. Shirer recorded in Prague “All quiet here, but you can cut the tension with a knife. Reports that the Germans have massed two hundred thousand troops on the Austro-Czech border... [A]ll awaiting Hitler’s speech tomorrow.” Neither France nor Britain was prepared to defend Czechoslovakia. In September the Cabinet formed a “Situation in Czechoslovakia Committee” dedicated to assessing the British response to Germany’s occupation. On the 9 September meeting of this committee Chamberlain made it known that he would seek direct negotiations with Hitler. After the next meeting of the committee the following day, the members found Churchill, irate, waiting for them. Home Secretary Samuel Hoare recalled, “When the talk ended and we left the Cabinet Room, we found Churchill waiting in the hall. He had come to demand an immediate ultimatum to Hitler. He was convinced it was our last chance of stopping a landslide…” (Gilbert, V, 971) Though this photograph captures Churchill outside of 10 Downing St., the caption is likely referring to Churchill’s meeting with Foreign Secretary Viscount Halifax on 11 September. The following day Halifax reported to the committee that Churchill had proposed “that we should tell Germany that if she set foot in Czechoslovakia we should at once be at war with her.” (Gilbert, V, 971-972) Instead, on 30 September Chamberlain returned from Munich to announce that he had ceded Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to Hitler in return for “peace in our time.” Churchill had spent half a decade opposing both his party and prevailing public sentiment with his warnings about Nazi Germany. “He was sixty-three years old, and the strain of his five-year campaign… had begun to take its toll.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.961) Of the time, Churchill’s biographer, Martin Gilbert, wrote: “…the events of September 1938 filled him with a deep despondency…” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.1007) As a result of Munich, “relations between Churchill and Chamberlain had worsened considerably.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, p.1008) It was almost as if Churchill was Leader of the Opposition, despite sharing the party of the sitting Prime Minister. In a 16 October broadcast address to the American people, Churchill frontally assaulted the concessions of September: “All the world wishes for peace and security. Have we gained it by the sacrifice of the Czechoslovak Republic… the model democratic State of Central Europe… has been deserted, destroyed, and devoured… Is this the end, or is there more to come?… Can peace, goodwill and confidence be built upon submission to wrong-doing backed by force?” History’s answer was darkly decisive. A year after this image was captured, at the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, Churchill returned to the Admiralty. He replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May 1940. . Item #005254

Price: $300.00

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