Mrs Churchill Goes to Russia: the British-Soviet Wartime Gift-Exchange
At a luncheon held in her honour on May 9, 1945 in Moscow, Clementine Churchill, wife of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was presented with a custom-made folder containing several carefully reproduced and mounted photographs. It was the culminating gesture in an ongoing gift exchange between Britain and the Soviet Union that had begun, for the British public at least, in the early hours of June 22, 1941; one in which the tensions of the wartime alliance between these two nations were in clear evidence. This paper will examine this gift exchange, centered as it was around Clementine Churchill’s Aid to Russia campaign, which served to channel the widespread sense of indebtedness to Russia expressed by the British public into a tangible means of support for their new ally. By exploring the power struggle enacted through official gift-giving and the conflicting aims of private and public participants in the exchange, it will be revealed that while the Soviet leadership was able to position itself as the dominant party in the gift exchange, this political victory was ultimately undermined by the nature of its own gifts
Mrs Churchill Goes to Russia: the British-Soviet Wartime Gift-Exchange- Claire Knight . Abstract of the paper given at the Fifth Fitzwilliam Colloquium in Russian Studies "British Perception and Reception of Russian Culture, 18th-20th Centuries", Cambridge, 2012. Full text published in A People Passing Rude: British Responses to Russian Culture, ed. By Anthony Cross. Open Book Publisher, 2012.