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WORDS

AGAINST THE
REGIME
Speeches From the Nazi Oppression
Speeches From the Nazi Oppression
WORDS
AGAINST THE
REGIME
Neville
Chamberlain
The Nazi Invasion
of Poland
8
Clemens
von Galen
Against Nazi
Euthanasia
26
Vyacheslav
Molotov
The Nazi Invasion
of the Soviet Union
36
Edouard
Daladier
Nazis’ Aim
is Slavery
18
Winston
Churchill
Their Finest
Hour
44
CONTENTS
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9
British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain gave this speech to
the House of Commons on September 1st, 1939, just hours afer
Hitler’s troops had invaded Poland.
Chamberlain and others had spent years negotiating with Hitler
in order to prevent another war in Europe, two decades afer
the Great War in which an entire generation of young men had
been wiped out.
Negotiations with Hitler had included ceding the German-
speaking portions of Czechoslovakia, amid promises by Hitler
he would have no further territotial demands. Unknown to
Chamberlain, Hitler yearned for war all along and was simply
biding his time until his armies were prepared.
In September 1939, Nazis staged a fake attack on a German ra-
dio outpost along the German-Polish border and used that as an
excuse for the invasion of Poland.
The Nazi Invasion of
Poland September 1, 1939
NEVILLE
CHAMBERLAIN
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I do not propose to say many words tonight.
The time has come when action rather than speech is
required. Eighteen months ago in this House I prayed
that the responsibility might not fall upon me to ask
this country to accept the awful arbitrament of war. I
fear that I may not be able to avoid that responsibility.
But, at any rate, I cannot wish for conditions in which
such a burden should fall upon me in which I should feel
clearer than I do today as to where my duty lies.
No man can say that the Government could
have done more to try to keep open the way for an
honorable and equitable settlement of the dispute
between Germany and Poland. Nor have we neglected
any means of making it crystal clear to the German
Government that if they insisted on using force again
in the manner in which they had used it in the past we
were resolved to oppose them by force.
Now that all the relevant documents are being
made public we shall stand at the bar of history know-
ing that the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe
lies on the shoulders of one man, the German Chan-
cellor, who has not hesitated to plunge the world into
misery in order to serve his own senseless ambitions...
Only last night the Polish Ambassador did see
the German Foreign Secretary, Herr von Ribbentrop.
Once again he expressed to him what, indeed, the
Polish Government had already said publicly, that they
were willing to negotiate with Germany about their
disputes on an equal basis.
What was the reply of the German Government?
The reply was that without another word the Ger-
man troops crossed the Polish frontier this morning
at dawn and are since reported to be bombing open
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towns. In these circumstances there is only one course
open to us.
His Majesty’s Ambassador in Berlin and the
French Ambassador have been instructed to hand to
the German Government the following document:
“Early this morning the German Chancellor
issued a proclamation to the German Army which
indicated that he was about to attack Poland. Infor-
mation which has reached His Majesty’s Government
in the United Kingdom and the French Government
indicates that attacks upon Polish towns are proceed-
ing. In these circumstances it appears to the Govern-
ments of the United Kingdom and France that by
their action the German Government have created
conditions, namely, an aggressive act of force against
Poland threatening the independence of Poland,
which call for the implementation by the Government
of the United Kingdom and France of the undertak-
ing to Poland to come to her assistance. I am accord-
ingly to inform your Excellency that unless the Ger-
man Government are prepared to give His Majesty’s
Government satisfactory assurances that the German
Government have suspended all aggressive action
against Poland and are prepared promptly to withdraw
their forces from Polish territory, His Majesty’s Gov-
ernment in the United Kingdom will without hesita-
tion fulfll their obligations to Poland.”
If a reply to this last warning is unfavorable, and
I do not suggest that it is likely to be otherwise, His
Majesty’s Ambassador is instructed to ask for his pass-
ports. In that case we are ready.
Yesterday, we took further steps towards the
completion of our defensive preparation. This morn-
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ing we ordered complete mobilization of the whole
of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. We
have also taken a number of other measures, both at
home and abroad, which the House will not perhaps
expect me to specify in detail. Briefy, they represent
the fnal steps in accordance with pre-arranged plans.
These last can be put into force rapidly, and are of
such a nature that they can be deferred until war
seems inevitable. Steps have also been taken under the
powers conferred by the House last week to safeguard
the position in regard to stocks of commodities of
various kinds.
The thoughts of many of us must at this mo-
ment inevitably be turning back to 1914, and to a
comparison of our position now with that which
existed then. How do we stand this time? The answer
is that all three Services are ready, and that the situa-
tion in all directions is far more favorable and reassur-
ing than in 1914, while behind the fghting Services
we have built up a vast organization of Civil Defense
under our scheme of Air Raid Precautions.
As regards the immediate manpower require-
ments, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Air Force
are in the fortunate position of having almost as many
men as they can conveniently handle at this moment.
There are, however, certain categories of service in
which men are immediately required, both for Military
and Civil Defense. These will be announced in detail
through the press and the BBC.
The main and most satisfactory point to observe
is that there is today no need to make an appeal in a
general way for recruits such as was issued by Lord
Kitchener 25 years ago. That appeal has been an-
13
Polish Infatry, 1939 Photo by Apolonious Zawilski
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ticipated by many months, and the men are already
available. So much for the immediate present. Now we
must look to the future. It is essential in the face of
the tremendous task which confronts us, more espe-
cially in view of our past experiences in this matter, to
organize our manpower this time upon as methodical,
equitable and economical a basis as possible.
We, therefore, propose immediately to introduce
legislation directed to that end. A Bill will be laid be-
fore you which for all practical purposes will amount
to an expansion of the Military Training Act. Under
its operation all ft men between the ages of 18 and
41 will be rendered liable to military service if and
when called upon. It is not intended at the outset that
any considerable number of men other than those
already liable shall be called up, and steps will be taken
German tank prepare to invade Poland. 1939
15
to ensure that the manpower essentially required by
industry shall not be taken away.
There is one other allusion which I should like
to make before I end my speech, and that is to record
my satisfaction of His Majesty’s Government, that
throughout these last days of crisis Signor Mussolini
also has been doing his best to reach a solution. It
now only remains for us to set our teeth and to enter
upon this struggle, which we ourselves earnestly en-
deavored to avoid, with determination to see it through
to the end.
We shall enter it with a clear conscience, with the
support of the Dominions and the British Empire,
and the moral approval of the greater part of the world.
We have no quarrel with the German people,
except that they allow themselves to be governed by
High rank ofcials greet each other as the General inspects the
concentraton camp. 1939
16
a Nazi Government. As long as that Government
exists and pursues the methods it has so persistently
followed during the last two years, there will be no
peace in Europe. We shall merely pass from one crisis
to another, and see one country after another attacked
by methods which have now become familiar to us in
their sickening technique.
We are resolved that these methods must come
to an end. If out of the struggle we again re-establish
in the world the rules of good faith and the renuncia-
tion of force, why, then even the sacrifces that will be
entailed upon us will fnd their fullest justifcation.
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NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN
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19
EDOUARD
DALADIER
Nazis’ Aim is
Slavery August 3, 1941
Edouard Daladier, Premier of France, delivered this radio address
to the people of France on January 29, 1940, afer the Nazis had
conquered Poland and just a few months before Hitler’s armies
attacked France.
20
At the end of fve months of war one thing has
become more and more clear. It is that Germany seeks
to establish a domination over the world completely
different from any known in history.
The domination at which the Nazis aim is not
limited to the displacement of the balance of power
and the imposition of supremacy of one nation. It
seeks the systematic and total destruction of those
conquered by Hitler, and it does not treaty with the
nations which he has subdued. He destroys them. He
takes from them their whole political and economic
existence and seeks even to deprive them of their
history and their culture. He wishes to consider them
only as vital space and a vacant territory over which he
has every right.
The human beings who constitute these nations
are for him only cattle. He orders their massacre or
their migration. He compels them to make room for
their conquerors. He does not even take the trouble
to impose any war tribute on them. He just takes all
their wealth, and, to prevent any revolt, he wipes out
their leaders and scientifcally seeks the physical and
moral degradation of those whose independence he
has taken away.
Under this domination, in thousands of towns
and villages in Europe there are millions of human
beings now living in misery which, some months ago,
they could never have imagined. Austria, Bohemia,
Slovakia and Poland are only lands of despair. Their
whole peoples have been deprived of the means of
moral and material happiness. Subdued by treachery
or brutal violence, they have no other recourse than to
work for their executioners who grant them scarcely
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The youth were given no mercy as they too slaved away in the camps.
1940
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enough to assure the most miserable existence.
There is being created a world of masters and
slaves in the image of Germany herself. For, while
Germany is crushing beneath her tyranny the men of
every race and language, she is herself being crushed
beneath her own servitude and her domination mania.
The German worker and peasant are the slaves of
their Nazi masters while the worker and peasant of
Bohemia and Poland have become in turn slaves of
these slaves. Before this frst realization of a mad
dream, the whole world might shudder.
Nazi propaganda is entirely founded on the
exploitation of the weakness of the human heart. It
does not address itself to the strong or the heroic.
It tells the rich they are going to lose their money.
It tells the worker this is a rich man’s war. It tells the
Men forced to work as labourers under the Nazi regime. 1940
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intellectual and the artist that all he cherished is being
destroyed by war. It tells the lover of good things
that soon he would have none of them. It says to the
Christian believer: “How can you accept this massa-
cre?” It tells the adventurer - “a man like you should
proft by the misfortunes of your country.”
It is those who speak this way who have de-
stroyed or confscated all the wealth they could lay
their hands on, who have reduced their workers to
slavery, who have ruined all intellectual liberty, who
have imposed terrible privations on millions of men
and women and who have made murder their law.
What do contradictions matter to them if they can
lower the resistance of those who wish to bar the path
of their ambitions to be masters of the world?
Borthels were secretly held in a few concentraton camps. 1941
24
For us there is more to do than merely win the war.
We shall win it, but we must also win a victory far greater
than that of arms. In this world of masters and slaves,
which those madmen who rule at Berlin are seeking to
forge, we must also save liberty and human dignity.
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EDOUARD DALADIER
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27
CLEMENS
VON GALEN
Against Nazi
Euthanasia August 3, 1941
Tis is an excerpt of the sermon by Catholic Cardinal Clemens von Galen,
delivered on Sunday, August 3, 1941, in Münster Cathedral, in which he
risked his life by openly condemning the Nazi euthanasia program.
Code named “Aktion T4,” the Nazi program to eliminate “life unwor-
thy of life” began on Hitler’s order in October 1939. Te program at
frst focused on newborns and very young children. Midwives and
doctors were required to register children up to age three that showed
symptoms of mental retardation, physical deformity, or other symp-
toms included on a questionnaire from the Reich Health Ministry.
A decision on whether to allow the child to live was then made by
three medical experts solely on the basis of the questionnaire, without
any examination and without reading any medical records.
Each expert placed a + mark in red pencil or – mark in blue pencil
under the term “treatment” on a special form. A red plus mark meant
a decision to kill the child. A blue minus sign meant meant a decision
against killing. Tree +++ symbols resulted in a euthanasia warrant
being issued and the transfer of the child to a ‘Children’s Specialty De-
partment’ for death by injection or gradual starvation.
Te decision had to be unanimous. In cases where the decision was
not unanimous the child was kept under observation and another at-
tempt would be made to get a unanimous decision.
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Fellow Christians! In the pastoral letter of the
German bishops of June 26, 1941, which was read
out in all the Catholic churches in Germany on July 6,
1941, it states among other things: It is true that there
are defnite commandments in Catholic moral doc-
trine which are no longer applicable if their fulfllment
involves too many diffculties.
However, there are sacred obligations of con-
science from which no one has the power to release us
and which we must fulfl even if it costs us our lives.
Never under any circumstances may a human being
kill an innocent person apart from war and legitimate
self-defense. On July 6, I already had cause to add to
the pastoral letter the following explanation: for some
months we have been hearing reports that, on the or-
ders of Berlin, patients from mental asylums who have
been ill for a long time and may appear incurable, are
being compulsorily removed. Then, after a short time,
the relatives are regularly informed that the corpse
has been burnt and the ashes can be delivered. There
is a general suspicion verging on certainty, that these
numerous unexpected deaths of mentally ill people do
not occur of themselves but are deliberately brought
about, that the doctrine is being followed, according to
which one may destroy so-called ‘worthless life,’ that
is, kill innocent people if one considers that their lives
are of no further value for the nation and the state.
I am reliably informed that lists are also being
drawn up in the asylums of the province of Westphalia
as well of those patients who are to be taken away as
so-called ‘unproductive national comrades’ and shortly
to be killed. The frst transport left the Marienthal insti-
tution near Münster during this past week.
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German men and women, section 211 of the
Reich Penal Code is still valid. It states: ‘He who delib-
erately kills another person will be punished by death
for murder if the killing is premeditated.’
Those patients who are destined to be killed
are transported away from home to a distant asylum
presumably in order to protect those who deliberately
kill those poor people, members of our families, from
this legal punishment. Some illness is then given as
the cause of death. Since the corpse has been burnt
straight away, the relatives and also the criminal police
are unable to establish whether the illness really oc-
curred and what the cause of death was.
However, I have been assured that the Reich
Interior Ministry and the offce of the Reich Doctors’
Leader, Dr. Conti, make no bones about the fact that in
reality a large number of mentally ill people in Germany
have been deliberately killed and more will be killed in
the future.
The Penal Code lays down in section 139: ‘He
who receives credible information concerning the
intention to commit a crime against life and neglects
to alert the authorities or the person who is threatened
in time...will be punished.’
When I learned of the intention to transport pa-
tients from Marienthal in order to kill them, I brought
a formal charge at the State Court in Münster and
with the Police President in Münster by means of a
registered letter which read as follows: “According to
information which I have received, in the course of this
week a large number of patients from the Marienthal
Provincial Asylum near Münster are to be transported
to the Eichberg asylum as so-called ‘unproductive
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national comrades’ and will then soon be deliberately
killed, as is generally believed has occurred with such
transports from other asylums. Since such an action
is not only contrary to the moral laws of God and
Nature but also is punishable with death as murder
under section 211 of the Penal Code, I hereby bring a
charge in accordance with my duty under section 139
of the Penal Code, and request you to provide imme-
diate protection for the national comrades threatened
in this way by taking action against those agencies who
are intending their removal and murder, and that you
inform me of the steps that have been taken.”
I have received no news concerning intervention
by the Prosecutor’s Offce or by the police...Thus we
must assume that the poor helpless patients will soon
be killed. For what reason?
Not because they have committed a crime worthy
of death. Not because they attacked their nurses or
orderlies so that the latter had no other choice but to
use legitimate force to defend their lives against their at-
tackers. Those are cases where, in addition to the killing
of an armed enemy in a just war, the use of force to the
point of killing is allowed and is often required.
No, it is not for such reasons that these unfor-
tunate patients must die but rather because, in the
opinion of some department, on the testimony of
some commission, they have become ‘worthless life’
because according to this testimony they are ‘unpro-
ductive national comrades.’ The argument goes: they
can no longer produce commodities, they are like an
old machine that no longer works, they are like an old
horse which has become incurably lame, they are like a
cow which no longer gives milk.
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American soldiers look at the exhumed bodies of prisoners who were
burned alive in a barn outside Gardelegen. 1941
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What does one do with such an old machine? It
is thrown on the scrap heap. What does one do with a
lame horse, with such an unproductive cow?
No, I do not want to continue the comparison
to the end--however fearful the justifcation for it and
the symbolic force of it are. We are not dealing with
machines, horses and cows whose only function is to
serve mankind, to produce goods for man. One may
smash them, one may slaughter them as soon as they
no longer fulfl this function.
No, we are dealing with human beings, our fellow
human beings, our brothers and sisters. With poor
people, sick people, if you like unproductive people.
But have they for that reason forfeited the right
to life?
A Romani (Gypsy) victm of Nazi medical experiments to make sea-
water potable. Dachau concentraton camp, Germany, 1944.
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Have you, have I the right to live only so long
as we are productive, so long as we are recognized by
others as productive?
If you establish and apply the principle that you
can kill ‘unproductive’ fellow human beings then woe
betide us all when we become old and frail! If one is
allowed to kill the unproductive people then woe be-
tide the invalids who have used up, sacrifced and lost
their health and strength in the productive process. If
one is allowed forcibly to remove one’s unproductive
fellow human beings then woe betide loyal soldiers
who return to the homeland seriously disabled, as
cripples, as invalids. If it is once accepted that people
have the right to kill ‘unproductive’ fellow humans—
and even if initially it only affects the poor defenseless
mentally ill—then as a matter of principle murder is
German civilians exhume the bodies of 44 Polish and Russian forced
laborers who were put to death at the Hadamar Insttute and bur-
ied in a mass grave behind the euthanasia facility. 1944
34
permitted for all unproductive people, in other words
for the incurably sick, the people who have become
invalids through labor and war, for us all when we
become old, frail and therefore unproductive.
Then, it is only necessary for some secret edict to
order that the method developed for the mentally ill
should be extended to other ‘unproductive’ people, that
it should be applied to those suffering from incurable
lung disease, to the elderly who are frail or invalids, to
the severely disabled soldiers. Then none of our lives
will be safe any more. Some commission can put us on
the list of the ‘unproductive,’ who in their opinion have
become worthless life. And no police force will protect
us and no court will investigate our murder and give the
murderer the punishment he deserves.
Who will be able to trust his doctor any more?
He may report his patient as ‘unproductive’ and re-
ceive instructions to kill him. It is impossible to imagine
the degree of moral depravity, of general mistrust that
would then spread even through families if this dreadful
doctrine is tolerated, accepted and followed.
Woe to mankind, woe to our German nation
if God’s Holy Commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill,’
which God proclaimed on Mount Sinai amidst thunder
and lightning, which God our Creator inscribed in the
conscience of mankind from the very beginning, is
not only broken, but if this transgression is actually
tolerated and permitted to go unpunished.
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CLEMENS VON GALEN
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37
VYACHESLAV
MOLOTOV
The Nazi Invasion of
the Soviet Union June 22, 1941
Vyacheslav Molotov (1889-1986) was Foreign Minister of Soviet
Russia when the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggression Pact was signed,
August 23rd, 1939. News of the Pact stunned the world and ef-
fectively paved the way for the beginning of World War II with
Hitler assured the Germans would not face Russian military op-
position in response to Nazi aggression in Europe.
Just two weeks afer the Pact was signed, Hitler’s armies invaded
Poland. Ten, in accordance with a secret protocol in the Pact,
the Russians themselves invaded Poland from the east and the
country was divided up between the Nazis and Soviets.
In 1940, Hitler’s troops successfully invaded most of Western
Europe, achieving a stunning victory over France.
However, Hitler believed that Nazi Germany’s future depended
entirely on acquiring vast expanses of fertile land in the east,
namely Russia. He therefore turned his attention to Soviet Russia
and launched a “war of annihilation” against the Russians begin-
ning on June 22nd, 1941. Below is the initial Russian reaction,
broadcast via radio to the people by Molotov himself.
38
Citizens of the Soviet Union: The Soviet Gov-
ernment and its head, Comrade Stalin, have authorized
me to make the following statement:
Today at 4 o’clock a.m., without any claims hav-
ing been presented to the Soviet Union, without a
declaration of war, German troops attacked our coun-
try, attacked our borders at many points and bombed
from their airplanes our cities; Zhitomir, Kiev, Sevas-
topol, Kaunas and some others, killing and wounding
over two hundred persons.
There were also enemy air raids and artillery
shelling from Rumanian and Finnish territory.
This unheard of attack upon our country is
perfdy unparalleled in the history of civilized nations.
The attack on our country was perpetrated despite the
fact that a treaty of non-aggression had been signed
between the U. S. S. R. and Germany and that the
Soviet Government most faithfully abided by all provi-
sions of this treaty.
The attack upon our country was perpetrated
despite the fact that during the entire period of opera-
tion of this treaty, the German Government could
not fnd grounds for a single complaint against the
U.S.S.R. as regards observance of this treaty.
Entire responsibility for this predatory attack
upon the Soviet Union falls fully and completely upon
the German Fascist rulers.
At 5:30 a.m.—that is, after the attack had already
been perpetrated, Von der Schulenburg, the German
Ambassador in Moscow, on behalf of his government
made the statement to me as People’s Commissar of
Foreign Affairs to the effect that the German Govern-
ment had decided to launch war against the U.S.S.R. in
39
connection with the concentration of Red Army units
near the eastern German frontier.
In reply to this I stated on behalf of the Soviet
Government that, until the very last moment, the Ger-
man Government had not presented any claims to the
Soviet Government, that Germany attacked the U.S.S.R.
despite the peaceable position of the Soviet Union, and
that for this reason Fascist Germany is the aggressor.
On instruction of the government of the Soviet
Union I also stated that at no point had our troops
or our air force committed a violation of the frontier
and therefore the statement made this morning by the
Rumanian radio to the effect that Soviet aircraft alleg-
edly had fred on Rumanian airdromes is a sheer lie
and provocation.
Likewise a lie and provocation is the whole dec-
laration made today by Hitler, who is trying belatedly
to concoct accusations charging the Soviet Union with
failure to observe the Soviet-German pact.
Now that the attack on the Soviet Union has
already been committed, the Soviet Government has or-
dered our troops to repulse the predatory assault and to
drive German troops from the territory of our country.
This war has been forced upon us, not by the
German people, not by German workers, peasants
and intellectuals, whose sufferings we well understand,
but by the clique of bloodthirsty Fascist rulers of
Germany who have enslaved Frenchmen, Czechs,
Poles, Serbians, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, Holland,
Greece and other nations.
The government of the Soviet Union expresses
its unshakable confdence that our valiant army and
navy and brave falcons of the Soviet Air Force will
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acquit themselves with honor in performing their duty
to the fatherland and to the Soviet people, and will
infict a crushing blow upon the aggressor.
This is not the frst time that our people have had
to deal with an attack of an arrogant foe. At the time
of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia our people’s reply
was war for the fatherland, and Napoleon suffered
defeat and met his doom.
It will be the same with Hitler, who in his ar-
rogance has proclaimed a new crusade against our
country. The Red Army and our whole people will
again wage victorious war for the fatherland, for our
country, for honor, for liberty.
The government of the Soviet Union expresses
the frm conviction that the whole population of our
country, all workers, peasants and intellectuals, men
German troops parade through Warsaw afer the surrender of Po-
land. Warsaw, Poland, September 28-30, 1939.
41
and women, will conscientiously perform their duties
and do their work. Our entire people must now stand
solid and united as never before.
Each one of us must demand of himself and of
others discipline, organization and self-denial worthy
of real Soviet patriots, in order to provide for all the
needs of the Red Army, Navy and Air Force, to insure
victory over the enemy.
The government calls upon you, citizens of the
Soviet Union, to rally still more closely around our
glorious Bolshevist party, around our Soviet Govern-
ment, around our great leader and comrade, Stalin.
Ours is a righteous cause. The enemy shall be defeat-
ed. Victory will be ours.
A group of Soviet POWs, taken to an undefned prison camp. Some
2.8 million Soviet prisoners were killed in just eight months of
1941–42.
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VYACHESLAV MOLOTOV
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44
45
WINSTON
CHURCHILL
Their Finest
Hour June 18, 1940
At 5:30 a.m. on May 10, 1940, Nazi Germany began a massive
attack against Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. De-
fending those countries were soldiers of the British Expeditionary
Force along with the French, Belgian, and Dutch (Allied) armies.
Te Germans relied on an aggressive battle plan, utilizing modern
communications such as radio to direct troops in the feld. Te
Allies, for their part, assumed a defensive posture, just as they had
done at the start of World War I, and in many cases still relied on
hand-delivered messages.
As a result, the German Blitzkrieg (lightning attack) caught the
Allies of-guard. German Panzer tanks staged a surprise attack
through the ‘impassable’ Ardennes Forest then turned northward
and soon surrounded the bulk of the Allied armies in Belgium. Te
“Miracle at Dunkirk” occurred next as 338,000 British and French
soldiers were hurriedly evacuated from the coastline by Royal Navy
ships and a fotilla of civilian boats of every shape and size.
Afer just a few weeks of battle, Hitler’s armies had conquered
Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium. Paris fell on June 14th. Tree
days later, the French requested an armistice.
Te following day, June 18th, British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill spoke to the House of Commons about the disastrous
turn of events in Europe amid the stark realization that Britain
now stood alone against the seemingly unstoppable might of
Hitler’s military machine.
46
I spoke the other day of the colossal military disas-
ter which occurred when the French High Command
failed to withdraw the northern Armies from Belgium
at the moment when they knew that the French front
was decisively broken at Sedan and on the Meuse. This
delay entailed the loss of ffteen or sixteen French divi-
sions and threw out of action for the critical period the
whole of the British Expeditionary Force. Our Army
and 120,000 French troops were indeed rescued by the
British Navy from Dunkirk but only with the loss of
their cannon, vehicles and modern equipment. This loss
inevitably took some weeks to repair, and in the frst
two of those weeks the battle in France has been lost.
When we consider the heroic resistance made by the
French Army against heavy odds in this battle, the enor-
mous losses inficted upon the enemy and the evident
exhaustion of the enemy, it may well be the thought
that these 25 divisions of the best-trained and best-
equipped troops might have turned the scale. However,
General Weygand had to fght without them. Only three
British divisions or their equivalent were able to stand in
the line with their French comrades. They have suffered
severely, but they have fought well. We sent every man
we could to France as fast as we could re-equip and
transport their formations.
I am not reciting these facts for the purpose of
recrimination. That I judge to be utterly futile and
even harmful. We cannot afford it. I recite them in
order to explain why it was we did not have, as we
could have had, between twelve and fourteen British
divisions fghting in the line in this great battle instead
of only three. Now I put all this aside. I put it on
47
the shelf, from which the historians, when they have
time, will select their documents to tell their stories.
We have to think of the future and not of the past.
This also applies in a small way to our own affairs at
home. There are many who would hold an inquest
in the House of Commons on the conduct of the
Governments--and of Parliaments, for they are in it,
too--during the years which led up to this catastro-
phe. They seek to indict those who were responsible
for the guidance of our affairs. This also would be a
foolish and pernicious process. There are too many in
it. Let each man search his conscience and search his
speeches. I frequently search mine.
Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel
between the past and the present, we shall fnd that
we have lost the future. Therefore, I cannot accept the
drawing of any distinctions between members of the
present Government. It was formed at a moment of
crisis in order to unite all the Parties and all sections
of opinion. It has received the almost unanimous
support of both Houses of Parliament. Its mem-
bers are going to stand together, and, subject to the
authority of the House of Commons, we are going to
govern the country and fght the war. It is absolutely
necessary at a time like this that every Minister who
tries each day to do his duty shall be respected; and
their subordinates must know that their chiefs are not
threatened men, men who are here today and gone
tomorrow, but that their directions must be punctu-
ally and faithfully obeyed. Without this concentrated
power we cannot face what lies before us. I should not
think it would be very advantageous for the House to
prolong this debate this afternoon under conditions
48
of public stress. Many facts are not clear that will be
clear in a short time. We are to have a secret session
on Thursday, and I should think that would be a better
opportunity for the many earnest expressions of opin-
ion which members will desire to make and for the
House to discuss vital matters without having every-
thing read the next morning by our dangerous foes.
The disastrous military events which have hap-
pened during the past fortnight have not come to me
with any sense of surprise. Indeed, I indicated a fort-
night ago as clearly as I could to the House that the
worst possibilities were open; and I made it perfectly
clear then that whatever happened in France would
make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the
British Empire to fght on, if necessary for years, if
necessary alone.
During the last few days we have successfully
brought off the great majority of the troops we had
on the line of communication in France; and seven-
eighths of the troops we have sent to France since the
beginning of the war—that is to say, about 350,000
out of 400,000 men—are safely back in this country.
Others are still fghting with the French, and fghting
with considerable success in their local encounters
against the enemy. We have also brought back a great
mass of stores, rifes and munitions of all kinds which
had been accumulated in France during the last nine
months.
We have, therefore, in this Island today a very large
and powerful military force. This force comprises all
our best-trained and our fnest troops, including scores
of thousands of those who have already measured their
quality against the Germans and found themselves at
49
Captured Britsh and French soldiers help one another on the stair-
case up to the clif at Veules-les-Roses, June 1940.
50
no disadvantage. We have under arms at the present
time in this Island over a million and a quarter men.
Behind these we have the Local Defense Volunteers,
numbering half a million, only a portion of whom,
however, are yet armed with rifes or other frearms.
We have incorporated into our Defense Forces every
man for whom we have a weapon. We expect very
large additions to our weapons in the near future, and
in preparation for this we intend forthwith to call up,
drill and train further large numbers. Those who are
not called up, or else are employed during the vast
business of munitions production in all its branches—
and their ramifcations are innumerable—will serve
their country best by remaining at their ordinary work
until they receive their summons. We have also over
here Dominions armies. The Canadians had actually
Members of The White Rose - A German Resistance Movement.
1944
51
landed in France, but have now been safely with-
drawn, much disappointed, but in perfect order, with
all their artillery and equipment. And these very high-
class forces from the Dominions will now take part in
the defense of the Mother Country.
Lest the account which I have given of these
large forces should raise the question: Why did they
not take part in the great battle in France? I must
make it clear that, apart from the divisions training
and organizing at home, only twelve divisions were
equipped to fght upon a scale which justifed their be-
ing sent abroad. And this was fully up to the number
which the French had been led to expect would be
available in France at the ninth month of the war. The
rest of our forces at home have a fghting value for
home defense which will, of course, steadily increase
Britsh infantry atacks at El Alamein. 1943
52
every week that passes. Thus, the invasion of Great
Britain would at this time require the transportation
across the sea of hostile armies on a very large scale,
and after they had been so transported they would
have to be continually maintained with all the masses
of munitions and supplies which are required for con-
tinuous battle—as continuous battle it will surely be.
Here is where we come to the Navy—and after
all, we have a Navy. Some people seem to forget that
we have a Navy. We must remind them. For the last
thirty years I have been concerned in discussions
about the possibilities of oversea invasion, and I
took the responsibility on behalf of the Admiralty, at
the beginning of the last war, of allowing all regular
troops to be sent out of the country. That was a very
serious step to take, because our Territorials had only
just been called up and were quite untrained. There-
fore, this Island was for several months particularly
denuded of fghting troops. The Admiralty had con-
fdence at that time in their ability to prevent a mass
invasion even though at that time the Germans had a
magnifcent battle feet in the proportion of 10 to 16,
even though they were capable of fghting a general
engagement every day and any day, whereas now they
have only a couple of heavy ships worth speaking
of—the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. We are also
told that the Italian Navy is to come out and gain sea
superiority in these waters. If they seriously intend it, I
shall only say that we shall be delighted to offer Signor
Mussolini a free and safeguarded passage through the
Strait of Gibraltar in order that he may play the part
to which he aspires. There is a general curiosity in the
British Fleet to fnd out whether the Italians are up to
53
the level they were at in the last war or whether they
have fallen off at all.
Therefore, it seems to me that as far as sea-
borne invasion on a great scale is concerned, we are
far more capable of meeting it today than we were
at many periods in the last war and during the early
months of this war, before our other troops were
trained, and while the B.E.F. had proceeded abroad.
Now, the Navy have never pretended to be able to
prevent raids by bodies of 5,000 or 10,000 men fung
suddenly across and thrown ashore at several points
on the coast some dark night or foggy morning. The
effcacy of sea power, especially under modern condi-
tions, depends upon the invading force being of large
size; It has to be of large size, in view of our military
strength, to be of any use. If it is of large size, then
the Navy have something they can fnd and meet and,
as it were, bite on. Now, we must remember that even
fve divisions, however lightly equipped, would require
200 to 250 ships, and with modern air reconnaissance
and photography it would not be easy to collect such
an armada, marshal it, and conduct it across the sea
without any powerful naval forces to escort it; and
there would be very great possibilities, to put it mildly,
that this armada would be intercepted long before it
reached the coast, and all the men drowned in the sea
or, at the worst blown to pieces with their equipment
while they were trying to land. We also have a great
system of minefelds, recently strongly reinforced,
through which we alone know the channels. If the en-
emy tries to sweep passages through these minefelds,
it will be the task of the Navy to destroy the mine-
sweepers and any other forces employed to protect
54
them. There should be no diffculty in this, owing to
our great superiority at sea.
Those are the regular, well-tested, well-proved
arguments on which we have relied during many years
in peace and war. But the question is whether there are
any new methods by which those solid assurances can
be circumvented. Odd as it may seem, some attention
has been given to this by the Admiralty, whose prime
duty and responsibility is to destroy any large sea-borne
expedition before it reaches, or at the moment when
it reaches, these shores. It would not be a good thing
for me to go into details of this. It might suggest ideas
to other people which they have not thought of, and
they would not be likely to give us any of their ideas
in exchange. All I will say is that untiring vigilance and
mind-searching must be devoted to the subject, because
the enemy is crafty and cunning and full of novel
treacheries and stratagems. The House may be assured
that the utmost ingenuity is being displayed and imagi-
nation is being evoked from large numbers of competent
offcers, well-trained in tactics and thoroughly up to
date, to measure and counterwork novel possibilities.
Untiring vigilance and untiring searching of the mind
is being, and must be, devoted to the subject, because,
remember, the enemy is crafty and there is no dirty
trick he will not do.
Some people will ask why, then, was it that the
British Navy was not able to prevent the movement
of a large army from Germany into Norway across
the Skagerrak? But the conditions in the Channel
and in the North Sea are in no way like those which
prevail in the Skagerrak. In the Skagerrak, because
of the distance, we could give no air support to our
55
Britsh soldier does batle against the Nazis. 1943
56
surface ships, and consequently, lying as we did close
to the enemy’s main air power, we were compelled to
use only our submarines. We could not enforce the
decisive blockade or interruption which is possible
from surface vessels. Our submarines took a heavy toll
but could not, by themselves, prevent the invasion of
Norway. In the Channel and in the North Sea, on the
other hand, our superior naval surface forces, aided by
our submarines, will operate with close and effective
air assistance.
This brings me, naturally, to the great question of
invasion from the air, and of the impending struggle
between the British and German Air Forces. It seems
quite clear that no invasion on a scale beyond the
capacity of our land forces to crush speedily is likely
to take place from the air until our Air Force has been
defnitely overpowered. In the meantime, there may
be raids by parachute troops and attempted descents
of airborne soldiers. We should be able to give those
gentry a warm reception both in the air and on the
ground, if they reach it in any condition to continue
the dispute. But the great question is: Can we break
Hitler’s air weapon? Now, of course, it is a very great
pity that we have not got an Air Force at least equal
to that of the most powerful enemy within striking
distance of these shores. But we have a very power-
ful Air Force which has proved itself far superior in
quality, both in men and in many types of machine, to
what we have met so far in the numerous and ferce
air battles which have been fought with the Germans.
In France, where we were at a considerable disadvan-
tage and lost many machines on the ground when they
were standing round the aerodromes, we were accus-
57
tomed to infict in the air losses of as much as two and
two-and-a-half to one. In the fghting over Dunkirk,
which was a sort of no-man’s-land, we undoubtedly
beat the German Air Force, and gained the mastery
of the local air, inficting here a loss of three or four
to one day after day. Anyone who looks at the pho-
tographs which were published a week or so ago of
the re-embarkation, showing the masses of troops as-
sembled on the beach and forming an ideal target for
hours at a time, must realize that this re-embarkation
would not have been possible unless the enemy had
resigned all hope of recovering air superiority at that
time and at that place.
In the defense of this Island the advantages to
the defenders will be much greater than they were in
the fghting around Dunkirk. We hope to improve on
the rate of three or four to one which was realized at
Dunkirk; and in addition all our injured machines and
their crews which get down safely—and, surprisingly,
a very great many injured machines and men do get
down safely in modern air fghting—all of these will
fall, in an attack upon these Islands, on friendly soil
and live to fght another day; whereas all the injured
enemy machines and their complements will be total
losses as far as the war is concerned.
During the great battle in France, we gave very
powerful and continuous aid to the French Army,
both by fghters and bombers; but in spite of every
kind of pressure we never would allow the entire
metropolitan fghter strength of the Air Force to be
consumed. This decision was painful, but it was also
right, because the fortunes of the battle in France
could not have been decisively affected even if we had
58
thrown in our entire fghter force. That battle was lost
by the unfortunate strategical opening, by the extraor-
dinary and unforseen power of the armored columns,
and by the great preponderance of the German
Army in numbers. Our fghter Air Force might easily
have been exhausted as a mere accident in that great
struggle, and then we should have found ourselves
at the present time in a very serious plight. But as it
is, I am happy to inform the House that our fghter
strength is stronger at the present time relatively to the
Germans, who have suffered terrible losses, than it has
ever been; and consequently we believe ourselves pos-
sessed of the capacity to continue the war in the air
under better conditions than we have ever experienced
before. I look forward confdently to the exploits of
our fghter pilots—these splendid men, this brilliant
youth—who will have the glory of saving their native
land, their island home, and all they love, from the
most deadly of all attacks.
There remains, of course, the danger of bomb-
ing attacks, which will certainly be made very soon
upon us by the bomber forces of the enemy. It is true
that the German bomber force is superior in num-
bers to ours; but we have a very large bomber force
also, which we shall use to strike at military targets in
Germany without intermission. I do not at all under-
rate the severity of the ordeal which lies before us;
but I believe our countrymen will show themselves
capable of standing up to it, like the brave men of
Barcelona, and will be able to stand up to it, and carry
on in spite of it, at least as well as any other people in
the world. Much will depend upon this; every man and
every woman will have the chance to show the fnest
59
qualities of their race, and render the highest service
to their cause. For all of us, at this time, whatever our
sphere, our station, our occupation or our duties, it will
be a help to remember the famous lines: He nothing
common did or mean, Upon that memorable scene.
I have thought it right upon this occasion to give
the House and the country some indication of the
solid, practical grounds upon which we base our in-
fexible resolve to continue the war. There are a good
many people who say, ‘Never mind. Win or lose, sink
or swim, better die than submit to tyranny—and such
a tyranny.’ And I do not dissociate myself from them.
But I can assure them that our professional advisers
of the three Services unitedly advise that we should
carry on the war, and that there are good and reason-
able hopes of fnal victory. We have fully informed
and consulted all the self-governing Dominions, these
great communities far beyond the oceans who have
been built up on our laws and on our civilization, and
who are absolutely free to choose their course, but
are absolutely devoted to the ancient Motherland, and
who feel themselves inspired by the same emotions
which lead me to stake our all upon duty and honor.
We have fully consulted them, and I have received
from their Prime Ministers, Mr. Mackenzie King of
Canada, Mr. Menzies of Australia, Mr. Fraser of New
Zealand, and General Smuts of South Africa—that
wonderful man, with his immense profound mind,
and his eye watching from a distance the whole pan-
orama of European affairs—I have received from all
these eminent men, who all have Governments behind
them elected on wide franchises, who are all there be-
cause they represent the will of their people, messages
60
couched in the most moving terms in which they en-
dorse our decision to fght on, and declare themselves
ready to share our fortunes and to persevere to the
end. That is what we are going to do.
We may now ask ourselves: In what way has our
position worsened since the beginning of the war?
It has worsened by the fact that the Germans have
conquered a large part of the coast line of Western
Europe, and many small countries have been overrun
by them. This aggravates the possibilities of air attack
and adds to our naval preoccupations. It in no way
diminishes, but on the contrary defnitely increases,
the power of our long-distance blockade. Similarly,
the entrance of Italy into the war increases the power
of our long-distance blockade. We have stopped the
worst leak by that. We do not know whether military
Dornier 17 like the one found in the English Channel.
61
resistance will come to an end in France or not, but
should it do so, then of course the Germans will be
able to concentrate their forces, both military and
industrial, upon us. But for the reasons I have given
to the House these will not be found so easy to apply.
If invasion has become more imminent, as no doubt
it has, we, being relieved from the task of maintain-
ing a large army in France, have far larger and more
effcient forces to meet it.
If Hitler can bring under his despotic control
the industries of the countries he has conquered, this
will add greatly to his already vast armament output.
On the other hand, this will not happen immediately,
and we are now assured of immense, continuous
and increasing support in supplies and munitions of
all kinds from the United States; and especially of
Britsh and American soldiers share a song of Thanksgiv-
ing as they marched onward. 1944
62
aeroplanes and pilots from the Dominions and across
the oceans coming from regions which are beyond the
reach of enemy bombers.
I do not see how any of these factors can operate
to our detriment on balance before the winter comes;
and the winter will impose a strain upon the Nazi
regime, with almost all Europe writhing and starving
under its cruel heel, which, for all their ruthlessness,
will run them very hard. We must not forget that
from the moment when we declared war on the 3rd
September it was always possible for Germany to turn
all her Air Force upon this country, together with any
other devices of invasion she might conceive, and that
France could have done little or nothing to prevent
her doing so. We have, therefore, lived under this dan-
ger, in principle and in a slightly modifed form, dur-
ing all these months. In the meanwhile, however, we
have enormously improved our methods of defense,
and we have learned what we had no right to assume
at the beginning, namely, that the individual aircraft
and the individual British pilot have a sure and defnite
superiority. Therefore, in casting up this dread balance
sheet and contemplating our dangers with a disillu-
sioned eye, I see great reason for intense vigilance and
exertion, but none whatever for panic or despair.
During the frst four years of the last war the
Allies experienced nothing but disaster and disap-
pointment. That was our constant fear: one blow after
another, terrible losses, frightful dangers. Everything
miscarried. And yet at the end of those four years the
morale of the Allies was higher than that of the Ger-
mans, who had moved from one aggressive triumph
to another, and who stood everywhere triumphant
63
invaders of the lands into which they had broken.
During that war we repeatedly asked ourselves the
question: ‘How are we going to win?’ And no one was
able ever to answer it with much precision, until at the
end, quite suddenly, quite unexpectedly, our terrible
foe collapsed before us, and we were so glutted with
victory that in our folly we threw it away.
We do not yet know what will happen in France
or whether the French resistance will be prolonged,
both in France and in the French Empire overseas.
The French Government will be throwing away great
opportunities and casting adrift their future if they
do not continue the war in accordance with their
treaty obligations, from which we have not felt able
to release them. The House will have read the historic
declaration in which, at the desire of many French-
men—and of our own hearts—we have proclaimed
our willingness at the darkest hour in French history
to conclude a union of common citizenship in this
struggle. However matters may go in France or with
the French Government, or other French Govern-
ments, we in this Island and in the British Empire will
never lose our sense of comradeship with the French
people. If we are now called upon to endure what they
have been suffering, we shall emulate their courage,
and if fnal victory rewards our toils they shall share
the gains, aye, and freedom shall be restored to all.
We abate nothing of our just demands; not one jot or
tittle do we recede. Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch,
Belgians have joined their causes to our own. All these
shall be restored.
What General Weygand called the Battle of
France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is
64
about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival
of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own
British life, and the long continuity of our institutions
and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the
enemy must very soon be turned on us.
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this
Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all
Europe may be free and the life of the world may
move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we
fail, then the whole world, including the United States,
including all that we have known and cared for, will
sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more
sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of
perverted science.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties,
and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and
its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will
still say, ‘This was their fnest hour.’
65
WINSTON CHURCHILL