On this day in history in 1965, Winston Churchill passed away. Churchill was a British statesman who served as the Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and then 1951 to 1955. He was seen to be a highly esteemed statesman because he successfully rallied Britain during the World War II and brought it back from the brink of defeat.

In the west, as in the case of most war-time leaders, he was widely celebrated as a figure who safeguarded his country against Nazism during the war and helped uphold the mantle of western democracy.

However, in most recent times he has been characterized as a war criminal, racist and an imperialist who was seen to have taken many controversial actions and expressed problematic opinions during his time as a statesman. In 1919, as he presided over the British Air Council, he was recorded to have said:

“I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas... I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes…The moral effect should be so good…and would spread a lively terror.”

And

“I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America of the black people of Australia…by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race..has come in and taken their place.”

His outrageous remarks have cast a very critical eye on his reputation as an extraordinary and acclaimed leader, as leading politicians and journalists around the world have questioned his legitimacy as a highly revered statesman. Some politicians have gone to the extent of ranking him in the same category as genocidal European dictators like Stalin and Hitler due to his war-time crimes and his government’s attitude to the famines in Bengal in 1943, where millions of Indians died due to starvation.