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[Last update: 6 April 2009]

Winston Churchill and the Council of Europe

During the 1940s Winston Churchill was one of the main protagonists for a new regional organisation that was to become the Council of Europe. His speech to a crowd in Place Kleber, Strasbourg on the occasion of the first session of the Consultative Assembly was a big media event.

triangle Highlights

triangle Selected documents

triangle Biographical details

triangle Sources in Central Archives


triangle Highlights

- 1943: Broadcast to the nation - Audio clip [2m28s]

- 1946: Zurich speech - Audio clip [17m50s]

- 1949: Speech in Place Kleber [fr] - Video clip [32s]

triangle Selected documents

1943, 21 March 5

Churchill's broadcast to the nation. He calls for a Council of Europe and a Council of Asia.

Audio extract [2m28s]

1946, 19 September

Zurich speech: "We must build a kind of United States of Europe... The first step is to form a Council of Europe".

Audio extract [17m50s]
Written extract


Addresses the Hague Congress (as honorary president of the Congress):

"Since I spoke on this subject at Zurich in 1946... events have carried our affair beyond our expectations... We aim at the eventual participation of all European peoples whose society and way of life are not in disaccord with a charter of human rights and the sincere expression of free democracy".

Full text

1949, August

Attends the first session of the Assembly. Makes several interventions.

Addresses crowd in Place Kleber [fr].

Audio extract [3m36s] and transcript
Video [32s]
Full text


1949, 17 August

Speech to the Assembly arguing for Germany to be admitted as a member.

Full text

1950, August

Second session of the Assembly. Churchill makes several interventions.

He tables a motion (Doc.47) on the creation of a European Army. The text is adopted (Recommendation 5).
"This... was the most important decision yet taken by the Consultative Assembly. It reflected the state of disquiet which prevailed in Europe". (Spaak: "The continuing battle", p.217)

The Committee of Ministers replies (Resolution (50) 48) that defence matters do not fall within its competence.

Debate on the European Army

Text of Recommendation 5

1951, 14 April

Letter from Churchill explaining that Lady Tweedsmuir will represent him on the Cultural Committee


1964, 30 November

The Secretary General congratulates Churchill on his 90th birthday


1965, 24 January

Condolences from Pflimlin, President of the Assembly, to the UK Government


1965, 24 January

Condolences from the Secretary General to Lady Churchill


1965, 29 January

Secretary General Peter Smithers is asked about a memorial service



triangle Biographical details

Key dates

1874, 30 November

Birth at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, England


Churchill is elected to the British House of Commons as a Conservative Party member


War breaks out. Churchill is appointed first lord of the admiralty

1940, May 10

Chamberlain resigns and Churchill becomes Prime Minister

1945, July

Churchill's wartime government breaks up and the Labour party wins the general election


He founds the United Europe Movement in Britain

1951, October 26

Churchill is re-elected Prime Minister


Awarded the Nobel prize for literature

1955, April 5

He resigns as Prime Minister, but continues to sit in the Commons as a member of Parliament until 1964

1965, 24 January

Dies at Hyde Park Gate, London


triangle Sources in Central Archives


Historical Fonds, File 297 3 "Speeches by political figures"


Historical Fonds, File 240 33 "Congress of the Hague"


Debates of the Consultative Assembly


Texts adopted of the Consultative Assembly


Card catalogue


Historical Fonds, File 024 15 "Sessions of the Consultative Assembly"


Fonds of the Private Office, File C 49