Churchill and Stalin’s “savage” binge

A recently declassified Foreign Office letter from the second world war describes a late night drinking session between wartime leaders Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.

Sir Winston ChurchillThe memorandum was written by Sir Alexander Cadogan and was part of a highly sensitive document that has only just been declassified.

Cadogan also described how Churchill liked to engage his guests at mealtimes with, “irreverent and irresponsible discourse.”

The description of the session with Stalin is contained in a letter to Lord Halifax, who was at the time ambassador to the US.

Apparently written in the late 1940s, it must refer to Churchill’s visit to Moscow in the summer of 1942.

“Nothing can be imagined more awful than a Kremlin banquet, but it has to be endured,” wrote Cadogan.

“Unfortunately Winston didn’t suffer it gladly. However, next morning he was determined to fire his last bolt and asked for a private talk, alone with Stalin. This was fixed for 7pm.”

Cadogan then writes that he was summoned to the pair’s room later that evening and found the table groaning under the weight of “foods of all kinds crowned by a suckling pig, and innumerable bottles.”

He said that Stalin made him drink something “pretty savage”, while Churchill, who was by this time complaining of a slight headache, “seemed wisely to be confining himself to a comparatively innocuous effervescent Caucasian red wine.”

The party continued until 3am with Stalin extolling the merits of the Soviet Union and everything as, “merry as a marriage bell”.

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