The Truth About Hitler – Churchill’s original, unexpurgated profile of Hitler in November 1935

Article_Header_CropA powerful argument can be made that Adolf Hitler is the reason why Winston Churchill is so iconic.

During his long public life, Winston Churchill played many roles worthy of note – Member of Parliament for more than half a century, soldier and war correspondent, author of scores of books, ardent social reformer, implacable wartime foe, conciliatory advocate of peace and transnational unity, combative cold warrior, painter, Nobel Prize winner. So even without the Second World War, one could argue that Churchill’s extraordinary life and endeavors would remain remarkable.

Remarkable perhaps, but certainly less remarked upon. Churchill without the Second World War would be far less well-known. Churchill’s preeminence as a historical figure owes most to his indispensable leadership during the Second World War. And Hitler bears more responsibility for that war than any other single figure.

Hence, what the one man had to say about the other is fascinating. Neither man was known for a strong inclination to self-censorship.

Particularly fascinating is what Churchill had to say about Hitler in an article titled “The Truth About Hitler” published in The Strand Magazine in November 1935.


This article is fascinating not just for what it said, but for how it was considerably expurgated and tamed when published less than two years later in October 1937 in Churchill’s well-known book, Great Contemporaries. There, in the form it has become known to most readers, it was retitled as “Hitler and His Choice”.

Cover_CroppedThe unexpurgated “The Truth About Hitler” in The Strand Magazine was the headline, featured article. The title and author appeared prominently in bold yellow letters within a red banner across the upper front cover. Within, the article spanned pages 10 -21 and included 24 photograph illustrations.

The opening paragraphs of this fuller, 1935 version contain an entire paragraph about the question of whether “history will pronounce Hitler either a monster or a hero. It is this which will determine whether he will rank in Valhalla with Pericles, with Augustus, and with Washington, or welter in the inferno of human scorn with Attila and Temerlane. It is enough to say that both possibilities are open at the moment.” This paragraph, excised from the 1937 version, concludes: “If, because the story is unfinished, because, indeed, its most fateful chapters have yet to be written, we are forced to dwell upon the dark side of his work and creed, we must never forget nor cease to hope for the bright alternative.”

003441_12Other small details are altered or excised, but by far the primary difference between the 1935 and 1937 versions is removal of the final six paragraphs of the former from the latter. Churchill spends four of these six paragraphs describing and excoriating the horror of Hitler’s bloody “Night of the Long Knives” purge (30 June 1934) in emotionally evocative detail, concluding: “Adolf Hitler took upon himself the full responsibility…. I call the slaughter of a human being in peace without trial murder…”

Churchill’s closing paragraphs about Hitler clearly echo the defiant, combative, and unyielding Nazi foe Churchill would become as wartime Prime Minister less than five years after this article was published. But in 1935, Churchill was still a political outcast, out of power and out of favor. So it is all the more remarkable that The Strand Magazine would have not just printed, but overtly solicited this piece from Churchill. On 15 May 1935 Strand editor Reeves Shaw wrote to Churchill asking specifically for “an article entitled ‘The Truth About Hitler’” and specifically requested “…be as outspoken as you possibly can in your appraisement of Hitler’s personality and ambitions, and absolutely frank in your judgement of his methods.” (Gilbert, Vol. V, C.V. 2, p.1175)

003441_13Perhaps most surprising is Churchill’s harsh criticism of the German people for their complicity in Hitler’s reign. Throughout the Second World War, Churchill’s speeches are noteworthy for distinguishing the inherent virtues of peoples from the deficiencies and vulgarities of their leaders. But in the final two paragraphs of “The Truth About Hitler” Churchill extends his indictment of Hitler to the German people themselves: “But the astounding thing is that the great German People, educated, scientific, philosophical, romantic… have not only not resented this horrible blood-bath, but have endorsed it and acclaimed its author with the honours not only of a sovereign but almost of a God. Here is the frightful fact before which what is left of European civilization must bow its head in shame, and what is more to practical purpose, in fear.” Churchill’s final paragraph asks: “Can we really believe that a hierarchy and society built upon such deeds can be entrusted with the possession of the most prodigious military machinery yet planned among men?”

“The Truth About Hitler” is perhaps a window into the deep outrage and genuinely fearful concern of a quintessential man of action both caged and provoked, rattling the bars of his cell to call attention. The Churchill of 1935 had full, even prescient knowledge of the imminent danger to his country, but remained confined to the political exile of his “wilderness years” with his voice substantially relegated to the parish pulpit of periodicals rather than the bully pulpit of national leadership. The comparatively tamed and truncated version of Churchill’s profile of Hitler published in Great Contemporaries in 1937 is a marked contrast. Ironically, Churchill’s 1937 version can be seen as a more conciliatory and restrained appraisal of Hitler, perhaps reflecting Churchill’s earnest desire to avoid the war that he would fight with such ferocious resolve only a few years later.

We will provide scans of all pages of “The Truth About Hitler” in the November 1935 issue of The Strand Magazine upon request.

13 thoughts on “The Truth About Hitler – Churchill’s original, unexpurgated profile of Hitler in November 1935

  1. I’m writing a paper on Hitler in Nazi Germany in my ninth grade history class and I would like scans of this issue. Thanks so much for any help you can provide

  2. I would appreciate a copy of your catalogue.
    Also scans of all pages of the Churchill article in the November Strand about Hitler.
    Thank you

  3. I am researching the Second World War and would be grateful if you could supply me with the scanned copies of Churchill’s article in the November Strand about Hitler.
    Many thanks.

  4. I would like to buy or obtain a full copy of Churchills Strand Magazine article. Ian writing about the mistakes made in the last hundred years and how to devise a better future for the world. Winston’ article was unmatched anywhere. Some articles this century take us back to even worse consequences.

  5. I have always been fascinated with Mr. Churchill and history in general, thankfully our two teenage children are interested as well.

    We were recently watching a documentary on the History channel called “Hitler vs Churchill: The Eagle and The Lion” where we first heard of this Churchill article,

    The Truth About Hitler – Churchill’s original, unexpurgated profile of Hitler in November 1935.

    We would greatly appreciate receiving scans of the entire article.

    Thank you in advance for your time.
    The Offen Family

  6. I am reading Boris Johnson’s book and really am fascinated with Mr Churchill and his life, and the burdensome decisions he had to take.

    I would like to ask you for a scan of the entire article “The Truth about Hitler”.

    Many thanks in advance,
    Dominic van der Zypen

  7. Hi, I would really appreciate it if you could share the Strand article with me as I am working on a project about Churchill and his predictions about Hitler

  8. Please send the Hitler Strand article. As always, thanks for your passion.

  9. I would like to read the whole original Hitler Strand article by Winston.

    I started my interest in WWII 45 years ago when I read books like Colditz and the Wooden Horse. This has led my interest to everything from the American Civil War through to Vietnam. I like to look at period documentation and news reels to get a more accurate picture.

    Many thanks

  10. I would like to read the entire article in order to supplement my current research of Churchill’s memoirs. Thank you.

  11. I have read Churchill’s 12 volumes on the 2 World Wars. I would like a copy or scan the original Hitler Strand.

  12. Dear Sirs, I would like to read Churchill’s “The Truth About Hitler” in its original form. Pleas send me a copy of the full Strand article.
    Many thanks

  13. Dear Sir or Ma’am,

    I would like a copy of the 1935 Strand article “The Truth About Hitler.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.