Stalin Got Wasted With Churchill in Wartime

By May Wilkerson 05/24/13

Newly-public documents reveal how the two leaders bonded during a boozy all-nighter in 1942.

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Despite being allied against Germany during World War II, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and England's Prime Minister Winston Churchill didn't always see eye to eye. But it was nothing that a little a lot of booze couldn't remedy. According to files released by Britain's National Archives, tensions were eased between the two leaders when they once shared an alcohol-fueled all-nighter in 1942, at the height of World War II. Evidently, Churchill arranged for the two to meet up, with the help of interpreters, over a boozy banquet that lasted until 3 in the morning. In the previously secret files, Sir Alexander Cadogan, a British diplomat and under-secretary of Foreign Affairs, wrote that the two leaders shared "a heavily laden board between them: food of all kinds, crowned by a suckling pig and innumerable bottles." He described the mood of the evening as "merry as a marriage-bell." And though the British PM did complain of a "slight headache" at 1 in the morning, he was able to rein in the drinking after that, and "wisely" limited himself to "a comparatively innocuous effervescent Caucasian red wine." The two leaders largely avoided military chat, but Churchill did ask the dictator what was going on with the "kulaks"—the farming class Stalin had announced plans to exterminate. Stalin apparently responded "with great frankness" saying that the kulaks were "very unpopular with the rest of the people!"' But the two apparently breezed past past this topic and ultimately got along chummily. "Certainly Winston was impressed [with Stalin]," wrote Cardegan, "and I think the feeling was reciprocated."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.

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