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The 15 Most Important People in European History

The List:
1 Adolf Hitler
2 Isaac Newton
3 Albert Einstein
4 Queen Elizabeth I
5 Charles Darwin
6 King Henry VIII
7 Leonardo Da Vinci
8 Mahatma Gandhi
9 Otto Von Bismarck
10 Galileo Galilei
11 Winston Churchill
12 Michelangelo
13 William Shakespeare
14 Francis Bacon
15 Pablo Picasso
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No. 11 Winston Churchill

This man, Winston Churchill deserves mention on this list for several reasons, but first it is necessary to give a little information on his life. Churchill was born in 1875, the son of a very influential British politician (Randolph Churchill). Churchill received a high quality education, and quickly became interested and skilled in military affairs. Churchill fought in the Boer Wars, both as a combatant and as a correspondent for a London based newspaper, and became a national celebrity due to his escapades in that war.

But Churchill's real story starts during the First World War. Right before the war, Churchill had been first lord of the admiralty (a naval position), and as such, during the war he took on several responsibilities in planning the British attacks. One of those was the attack on the Turkish peninsula of Gallipoli. British troops were massacred, and those that managed to escape were certainly unable to finish their mission of occupying an enemy peninsula. Due to the failure of this action Churchill 'went to the tall grass' for several years, unable to find a cabinet level position, or indeed any position of any authority.

That all changed after Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany. Within 48 hours Churchill was appointed by British PM Chamberlain to be first lord of the admiralty. The major use of this position was planing the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk to Britain, using literally anything that would float. After this, Churchill became the PM of Britain.

It is Churchill's services as PM that give Churchill his position on this list. He rallied the nation, mostly with his stirring oratory and other refusal to even give any indication of the possibility of surrender; when other leaders were considering their options. Churchill also made many diplomatic efforts that would guarantee the successes of the allied powers in their efforts against the axis. He met with FDR on no less than 3 years, and had a direct transatlantic telephone line installed between the While House and the War Rooms where Churchill spent most of the war. Churchill also conducted diplomatic activities with the Russians, planning combined military strategy with Stalin, and also working out post-war restructuring.

Churchill presided over England until just before the end of the Second World War. His legacy is that of western civilization, because it is he who saved the UK from falling into the clutches of a man named Hitler. It is Churchill who won the war, more than anyone else, and it is Churchill who took efforts to set up most of post-war Europe, thus I include him on my list.

The first reason for inclusion on this list is the impact on people's individual lives. Churchill led England during a brutal war. During that time he was on the radio constantly, always reassuring England that it would be okay, that they would eventually triumph. He was the man who was on the radio in bomb shelters, in the underground, in the streets and in the military bases. Everyone during that time felt as if they had some connection with their leader, felt as if it was going to be okay. Churchill reassured his people, and because of that he is on our list.

The second reason for inclusion is the impact on countries. Here the significance is obvious. If not for the efforts of Churchill, England most likely would have fallen to the Nazi's. If not for the efforts of Churchill, Germany and the Europe might have been the same thing. Churchill's Herculean efforts to make sure that the map of Europe did not significantly change during the forties succeeded. If Churchill had not been present then the map of Europe that we study could, and probably would have been defined by a swastika.

The final characteristic is the impact on long-term and large-scale movements. Churchill did this, and the movement was that of democracy. Due directly to his efforts, Europe moved towards what it is today, a continent where the final authority essentially rests with the people. If not for Churchill's efforts in starving off the attacks of a fanatical government, this might never have occurred. Churchill through his efforts in ensuring that Hitler would not control Europe did also ensure that Democracy would triumph-and that was significant indeed.

Birth: November 30, 1874 in Blenheim Palace
Nickname: Bulldog
Education: Royal Military College in Sandhurst
Occupation: Various Government posts including PM.
Religious Affiliation: Anglican
Marriage: Clementine Churchill (m. 1908)
Children: Randolph
Diana
Sara
Mary
Political Affiliation: Liberal, then Conservative
Writings: Too numerous to list; Churchill was a writer for most of his life.
Died: January 24, 1965.
Buried: St. Martin's Churchyard, Bladon, Oxfordshire.

Links for Winston Churchill
GI -- World War II Commemoration - http://gi.grolier.com/wwii/wwii_churchill.html
The Life and Times of Winston - http://www.winstonchurchill.org/
Churchill - http://www.churchill.nls.ac.uk/