‘Walking with Destiny’ offers warm Churchill profile

‘Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny’


“Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny” provides a warm look back at the remarkable courage of Winston Churchill, the World War II British Prime Minister.

The 100-minute film, highlighted by vintage WW II footage and narrated by actor Ben Kingsley, was directed by Richard Trank, who co-wrote it with Rabbi Marvin Hier under the auspices of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. The film deals extensively with Churchill’s lifetime of cordial and supportive relations with the Jews of Great Britain, his staunch opposition to anti-Semitism, his support of the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine and his efforts to marshal Allied support to stop the Nazi genocide unfolding in Adolf Hitler’s demonic path.

The film reminds us that while Churchill was popular among the British public when he became British Prime Minister in May of 1940, his colleagues on the British Cabinet at first did not expect him to succeed. Churchill was named to replace Neville Chamberlain, whose efforts to appease Hitler in Munich in 1938 had proved to be a failure in view of Hitler’s march across Europe, with his army moving towards a certain victory over France.


When Churchill addressed members of the Cabinet and sub-Cabinet, they rose to give him a standing ovation when he proclaimed “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” Despite his confident public demeanor, which bolstered Great Britain in its darkest hours, Churchill, who suffered from chronic depression, confided in his trusted bodyguard and confidant Walter H. Thompson, “I hope it is not too late. I fear that it is.” The film documents the first major crisis faced by Churchill. As France was about to fall to Hitler’s troops, Churchill had to deal with the fact that the British Expeditionary Force of nearly 300,000 elite troops was trapped there. Churchill mobilized not only the British Royal Navy, but inspired private boat owners who owned cruise ships and even small fishing boats to join the efforts to rescue the British troops and free the French troops.

From 1940 until the Nazi-allied Japanese air force attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Churchill stood virtually alone against the Axis powers. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy during World War I and had befriended Churchill during his first term as First Lord of the British Admiralty, had provided secret assistance to Churchill before Pearl Harbor. But after the United States declared war on Japan and later on Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, Churchill had a steadfast ally in FDR.

The film also highlights Hitler’s colossal blunder of invading the Soviet Union in 1941, which gave Churchill another ally: Joseph Stalin’s Red Army. It fought bravely against the Nazis and included over 1 million Russian Jewish soldiers.

The film is bolstered by interviews with numerous respected historians, including Martin Gilbert, the author of the definitive multi-volume biography of Churchill, and Doris Kearns Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and expert on the FDR-Churchill relationship. Churchill had been an early and vocal proponent of the 1917 Balfour Declaration in which the British government supported the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish National Home. We learn from the film that both Dr. Chaim Weizmann and David Ben- Gurion, who would later lead the State of Israel after it was proclaimed in 1948, drew inspiration from Churchill’s brave stance against the Nazis during World War II.

‘Winston Churchill: Walking With Destiny’

When: 8 p.m., Monday, June 13

Where: Landmark Plaza Frontenac

Running time: 1:41

More info: Sheldon Enger, Adjunct Faculty, Modern Jewish History at Washington University will introduce the film.