After being away from active politics, World War II placed Winston Churchill at the center of the hurricane. He reached the peak of his career when he served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and was undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest leaders.
Between his 60s and 90s, Churchill lived the best and most interesting part of his life. He went from being a detested ex-politician during the Depression years to the leader of the United Kingdom during World War II. At the age of 60, Churchill warned his people about the dangerous rise of Adolf Hitler’s military power. But most of the English focused on domestic affairs due to the economic depression: Churchill’s warning about Hitler went unheeded. When Baldwin became Prime Minister in 1935 he did not call Churchill into his cabinet.
Churchill’s political popularity
Churchill’s political popularity reached its lowest point. At the age of 64, he continued with his warnings against Hitler and Germany in his newspaper columns. He also wrote the book Step by Step. It was the lowest and most depressing point of his life.
When World War II broke out in September 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland, Britain and France responded with a declaration of war. The German invasion of Norway, Holland and Belgium destroyed public confidence in the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. King George VI asked Chuchill, who was 65 years old, to be Prime Minister. The political parties formed a coalition government to deal with the war.
Churchill set the tone for his leadership in his first speech before the House of Commons: “I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat and tears. It was the first of his famous war speeches which united the people and inspired the Allies.
Churchill at age 66
At age 66, Churchill led his nation in the fight against the Nazi enemy. He was Commander in Chief of the Army, with direct control of politics and military operations. He oversaw every aspect of the English war effort. I do not hesitate to form an alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union, despite being a fierce critic of the communist regime in the latter country. With the United States entering the war, Churchill had to negotiate and accept the war plans of his most powerful ally.
In 1945, Churchill warned Roosevelt, the US president, about Stalin’s territorial ambitions in Eastern Europe, but was ignored. Roosevelt believed that he could put together a peaceful postwar period with Stalin.
Churchill at age 70
By the time Churchill turned 70, the Second World War was over. There were general elections in England and, although Churchill was re-elected as Prime Minister, his party, the Conservatives, was defeated. Without having legislative support to govern, he had to resign. He retired to private life very disappointed, because he did not expect this defeat.
Churchill at age 73
At the age of 73, he began working to rebuild the Conservative Party. He gave several speeches to promote Anglo-American solidarity and the unity of Western Europe, in the face of the rise of the Eastern European bloc of communist countries. It was he who coined the phrase The Iron Curtain, in a speech in Fulton, Missouri, United States.
Churchill at age 75
At age 75, he began writing his six-volume work The Second World War, giving a first-hand account of his experiences of the war. At 77, his efforts to reinvigorate the Conservatives paid off, and he became Prime Minister again. He worked to reduce the danger of nuclear war but was unable to bring about a political summit between Western countries and the Soviet Union.
Churchill at age 79
At age 79, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and became Sir Winston Churchill. That same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his historical and biographical works. In April 1955, already in his 80s, he resigned as Prime Minister of England but remained a member of the House of Commons.
Winston Churchill lived to be 90 years old. He devoted much of his time to writing and to his favorite hobby, painting. He came to create more than 500 paintings.
At the age of 84, the Royal Academy of Arts held a special exhibition of his pictorial work. When he turned 88, the United States Congress granted him honorary United States citizenship. Churchill died peacefully at his home in London, two months after his 90th birthday. He had a state funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral attended by dozens of world leaders. He was buried at Blenheim Palace.