Skip to main content

What's the context? series

What’s the Context? Winston Churchill’s ‘Sinews of Peace’ speech, Fulton, 5 March 1946

‘Now, at this sad and breathless moment, we are plunged in the hunger and distress which are the aftermath of our stupendous struggle’: Though no longer Prime Minister, Churchill’s speech at Fulton on 5 March 1946 packed a formidable punch. …

What’s the context? Foundation of the German Empire, 18 January 1871

Artwork showing a large group of military men in a room

This war represents the German revolution, a greater political event than the French revolution of last century. . . . Not a single principle in the management of our foreign affairs, accepted by all statesmen for guidance up to six …

What’s the Context? Signing the Anglo-American Financial Agreement, 6 December 1945

The American Congress and the American people have never accepted any literal principle of equal sacrifice, financial or otherwise, between all the allied participants. Indeed, have we ourselves? Lord Keynes, defending the Agreement in the House of Lords, 18 December …

What’s the context? Opening of the Potsdam Conference, 17 July 1945

Seated in the garden of Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam, Germany, L to R: British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, President Harry S. Truman, and Soviet Prime Minister Josef Stalin. L to R, behind them: Adm. William Leahy, British foreign minister Ernest Bevin, Secretary of State James Byrnes, and Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov. They are all attending the Potsdam Conference.

On 17 July 1945 the last of the great tripartite wartime conferences between the US, the UK and Russia opened at Potsdam, near Berlin. All the major issues facing the postwar world were discussed there.

What’s the context? 25 June 1950: outbreak of the Korean War

Ernest Bevin an elderly Prime Minister posing for a picture in front of a book case

The outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950 caught Western governments by surprise, despite warning signs. Western strategists had assumed that North Korea was a Soviet puppet, and that no one wanted a war.

What’s the Context? Sentencing of atomic spy Klaus Fuchs, 1 March 1950

Klaus Fuchs portrait

The conviction of atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs on 1 March 1950 for spying for the Soviet Union put a strain on Anglo-American nuclear co-operation, in the context of a broader divergence of views on foreign policy priorities.

What’s the context? The release of Nelson Mandela, 11 February 1990

Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s release on 11 February 1990, after 27 years in jail, symbolised the end of apartheid in South Africa. It was a tribute to one man’s endurance. It was also the result of decades of political, economic and social change that had brought apartheid to the brink of destruction.

What’s the context? Polish cryptologists reveal they have cracked the Enigma code, 26 July 1939

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Foreign Office Historians, What's the context? series
The three Polish codebreakers Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski

On 26 July 1939, in a forest near Warsaw, Polish code breakers told their British colleagues how they had cracked the German Enigma code. As war against Nazi Germany approached, the meeting symbolised the importance of political, as well as intelligence co-operation in the struggle ahead.