Collection of Rare World War Two Photos and Letters to Sell at Auction

Churchill and Generals
Churchill and Generals

Brenda Hart was a Cabinet Office secretary during the last two years of World War II.  She accompanied British prime minister Winston Churchill on a diplomatic mission to Russia and Germany to meet with Allied leaders after the war. She was at the Potsdam Conference where the fate of post-war Germany was decided, and the factors that led to the Cold War were set in place.

During her travels, she was able to photograph world leaders behind the scenes of the meetings. Those photographs, along with her mementos from the trip, include photographs of Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union. A collector is selling them at auction.

Miss Hart was the secretary to Churchill’s chief of staff, General Hastings Ismay. As such, she had extraordinary access to Churchill and other world leaders.

She wrote a series of letters at the time. Those letters give insights into the trip, such as seeing Churchill and Stalin shaking hands at the Bolshoi ballet, watching Churchill standing on the balcony of the Ministry of Health to greet 50,000 Londoners on VE Day, and visiting Hitler’s damaged Reich Chancellery.

Hart was also present at the Casablanca Conference in 1943 with Churchill and US president Franklin Roosevelt. She attended the Quebec Conference in 1944 where leaders discussed using the British navy to help the US in the Pacific and began plans for dealing with Germany after the War.

One of the pictures captures Churchill with his generals in the Downing Street garden on VE Day. There is also a shot of Churchill with King George VI on the same day at Buckingham Palace.

She was also able to get a rare photo of General Ismay in the war room, planning the strategy for the British war effort.

Hart photographed Lord Louis Mountbatten while at an airfield in Marrakech. Another photograph taken from the window of a plane shows a number of people with Churchill and Stalin after the Moscow conference in October 1944.

Hart described the events she attended in letters to her aunt, Kitty.

She wrote about the pride she felt seeing Churchill and Stalin shake hands during a break in a ballet in Moscow.

She also wrote about being present a few feet away when Churchill gave his speech from the Ministry of Health and flashed his famous “V” for victory sign.

In another letter, she writes about her admiration for Churchill and her disappointment that he lost the election after the war.

While in Berlin, she was one of the few civilians to be granted access to Hitler’s bunker where she grabbed a glass that was blackened by smoke, Mail Online reported.

A collector has owned the letters, photos, and mementos for some time, but now would like for someone else to enjoy them.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE