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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Eamon de Valera: Among the nations

Eamon de Valera gave this speech regarding Ireland among the nations at the opening of the Athlone Broadcasting station.

Ireland has much to seek from the rest of the world, and much to give back in return, much that she alone can give. Her gifts are the fruit of special qualities of mind and heart, developed by centuries of eventful history. Alone among the countries of Western Europe, she never came under the sway of Imperial Rome. When all her neighbours were in tutelage, she was independent, building up her own civilisation undisturbed. When Christianity was brought to her shores it was received with a joy and eagerness, and held with a tenacity of which there is hardly such another example.

Since the period of her missionary greatness, Ireland has suffered a persecution to which for cruelty, ingenuity and persistence there is no parallel. It did not break -- it strengthened -- the spirit and devotion of her people and prepared them for the renewal of their mission at a time when it is of no ‘less vital importance to the world than was the mission of the Irish saints of the seventh and eighth centuries to the world of their day.

Next to her services to religion, Ireland’s greatest contribution to the welfare of humanity has been the example of devotion to freedom which she has given throughout seven hundred years. The invaders who came to Ireland in the twelfth century belonged to a race that had already subjugated England and a great part of Western Europe. Like the Norsemen before them, it was in Ireland that they met the most serious resistance -- a resistance which was continued generation after generation against the successors of the first invaders until our own time, a resistance which will inevitably continue until the last sod of Irish soil is finally freed.

The Irish language is one of the oldest, and, from the point of view of the philologist, one of the most interesting in Europe. It is a member of the Indo-European family, principal of the Celtic group, of which the other two dialects are ancient Gaulish, which has come down to us only in inscriptions, and Brythonic, represented today by Welsh and Breton. Irish is closely related to Greek and Sanscrit, and still more closely to Latin.

The tradition of Irish learning -- the creation of the monastic and bardic schools -- was not wholly lost even during the darkest period of the English occupation. So far as the law could do it, education was made impossible for the Catholic population at home, but Irish scholarship was kept alive in the colleges for Irish ecclesiastics in Louvain, Rome, Salamanca, Paris and elsewhere on the Continent. In Ireland itself the schools of poetry survived in some places until the beginning of the eighteenth century, maintaining to the end their rigorous discipline. The "hedge schools," taught by wandering scholars, frustrated in a measure the design to reduce the people to illiteracy, and kept the flame of knowledge alight, however feebly, throughout the island.

Anglo-Irish literature, though far less characteristic of the nation than that produced in the Irish language, includes much that is of lasting worth. Ireland has produced in Dean Swift perhaps the greatest satirist in the English language; in Edmund Burke probably the greatest writer on politics; in William Carleton a novelist of the first rank; in Oliver Goldsmith a poet of rare merit. Henry Grattan was one of the most eloquent orators of his time -- the golden age of oratory in the English language. Theobald Wolfe Tone has left us one of the most delightful autobiographies in literature. Several recent or still living Irish novelists and poets have produced work which is likely to stand the test of time. The Irish theatre movement has given us the finest school of acting of the present day, and some plays of high quality.

Ireland’s music is of a singular beauty. Based on pentatonic scale its melodies reach back to a period anterior to the dawn of musical history. It stands pre-eminent amongst the music of the Celtic nations. It is characterised by perfection of form and variety of melodic content. It is particularly rich in tunes that imply exquisite sensitiveness. The strange fitfulness of the lamentations and love songs, the transition from gladness to pathos, have thrilled the experts, and made them proclaim our music the most varied and the most poetical in the world. Equal in rhythmic variety are our dance tunes -- spirited and energetic in keeping with the temperament of our people.

I have spoken at some length of Ireland’s history and her contributions to European culture, because I wish to emphasise that what Ireland has done in the past she can do in the future. The Irish genius has always stressed spiritual and intellectual rather than material values. That is the characteristic that fits the Irish people in a special manner for the task, now a vital one, of helping to save Western civilisation. The great material progress of recent times, coming in a world where false philosophies already reigned, has distorted men’s sense of proportion; the material has usurped the sovereignty that is the right of the spiritual. Everywhere today the consequences of this perversion of the natural order are to be seen. Spirit and mind have ceased to rule. The riches which the world sought, and to which it sacrificed all else, have become a curse by their very abundance.

In this day, if Ireland is faithful to her mission, and, please God, she will be, if as of old she recalls men to forgotten truths, if she places before them the ideals of justice, of order, of freedom rightly used, of Christian brotherhood -- then, indeed, she can do the world a service as great as that which she rendered in the time of Columcille and Columbanus, because the need of our time is in no wise less.

You sometimes hear Ireland charged with a narrow and intolerant Nationalism, but Ireland today has no dearer hope than this: that, true to her own holiest traditions, she may humbly serve the truth and help by truth to save the world.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Philippe Pétain: I need your confidence

Philippe Pétain gave this speech via radio to the French people declaring a new government with him having complete control.

Immense tasks face France. One has only to stop and think of the refugees and the supply problem to estimate their gravity and scope. The nation’s communications must be restored. Each man must be returned to his hearth and his job.

In these dark days, after France has been forced to the ground militarily, new trials have been inflicted upon her.

England, after a long alliance, has in a most opportunistic manner attacked our partially disarmed and immobilized warships in our ports. Nothing could justify that aggression. If England thought we would give our fleet to Germany, she was wrong.

The fleet received orders to defend itself and did so valiantly, despite the inequality of the battle.

France stands alone, attacked today by England for whom she consented to many severe sacrifices.

We have a most diflicult task to accomplish for which I need your confidence.

I have formed a new government composed of twelve Ministers who will be assisted by general secretafies taken from the principal services of the State. Governors will be in charge of the twelve large Provinces.

Power will thus find itself centralized and decentralized simultaneously. Officials will not be subjected to too much supervision. They will be free to operate and quicker to have more responsibility for their acts.

In order to regulate certain questions in a better manner, the government is preparing a seat for itself in the occupied territories. For that reason we have requested that Versailles and the ministerial quarters in Paris be vacated for us.

We must apply ourselves to create an elite corps without any other consideration than their capacity to command.

Labor is France’s supreme resource.

International capitalism and socialism exploited and degraded France. Both participated in preliminaries of the war. We must create a new order in which we no longer admit them.

We shall renounce neither profit, which is a powerful inducement, nor savings. Gains will remain as recompense for both labor and investment.

Your work will be defended, your families will have the respect and protection of the nation.

We must recreate lost confidence. The French family will remain the depositary for France’s long and honorable history.

We know that youth must live and draw its strength from the open air which will prepare it for life’s battles. We must see to that.

Let us give ourselves to France; she always has led her people to greatness.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Paul Reynaad: France will survive

Paul Reynaad gave this speech during the Nazi successful invasion of France.

In the distress fallen upon the fatherland one thing above all should be said. At the moment when fortune overwhelms them, I wish to cry out to the world the heroism of the French Armies, the heroism of our soldiers, the heroism of our chiefs.

I have seen arrive from the battle, men who had not slept in five days, harassed by airplanes, fatigued by long marches and heavy combats.

These men, whose nerves the enemy had thought broken, had no doubt about the final issue of the war. They had no doubt about the future of the fatherland.

The heroism of the armies of Dunkirk has been exceeded in the fighting from the sea to the Argonne. The soul of France is not broken.

Our race does not allow itself to be beaten down by invasion. How many of these invasions the soil on which we live has gone through in the course of the centuries; our race has always thrown back or dominated the invaders.

The world must know of the sufferings of France. The world must know of what they owe her. The hour has come for them to pay their debt.

The French Army has been the vanguard of the army of the democracies. It has sacrificed itself, but in losing this battle it has dealt telling blows to the common enemy. The hundreds of tanks destroyed, airplanes shot down, losses in men, the synthetic gasoline factories and planes -- all that explains the present state of morale of the German people despite their victories.

France, wounded, has the right to turn to other democracies and to say: "We have claims on you." None of these with a sense of justice can deny this.

But it is one thing to approve and another thing to act. We know what a high place ideals hold in the life of the great American people. Will they hesitate still to declare themselves against Nazi Germany?

You know that I have demanded it of President Roosevelt. I have sent him tonight a new and final appeal.

Each time that I have asked the President of the United States to increase in all forms the assistance permitted by American law, he has generously complied, and it has been approved by his people.

But today we are at a more advanced point. Today, the life of France is at stake, at least France’s essence of life. Our fight, each day more painful, has no further sense if in continuing we do not see even far away the hope of a common victory growing.

The superiority and quality of British aviation increases. It is necessary that clouds of war planes from across the Atlantic come to crush the evil force that dominates Europe.

Despite our reverses the power of the democracies remains immense. We have the right to hope that the day is coming when all that power will be placed in force. That is why we maintain hope in our hearts. That is also why we have wished France to keep a free government and have left Paris.

It was necessary to prevent Hitler from suppressing the legal government and declaring to the world that France had only a puppet government, in his pay, like those he has attempted to constitute here, there and everywhere.

In the great trials of their history our people have known days when they were troubled by defeatist counsel. It is because they never abdicated that they were great.

No matter what happens in the coming days, the French are going to suffer. May they be worthy of the past of their nation. May they become brothers. May they unite about their wounded fatherland.

The day of resurrection will come!

Edouard Daladier: Nazis want to enslave us all

Edouard Daladier gave this speech to the French people via radio.

At the end of five 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 treat 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 scientifically 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 enough to assure the most miserable existence.

There is being created a world of masters and slaves made 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 first realization of a mad dream the whole world might well shudder.

Nazi propaganda is entirely founded on the exploitation of the weaknesses 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 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 massacre?" It tells the adventurer -- "a man like you should profit by the misfortunes of your country."

It is those who speak this way who have destroyed or confiscated 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 ambition to be masters of the world?

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.

William Lyon Mackenzie King: Canada and the Second World War

William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, gave this speech before the Associated Canadian Organizations regarding Canada's involvement in the Second World War.

I speak to you tonight as the head of the government of a country which, for almost two years, has been actively and unitedly at war. In accepting your invitation, I have not been unmindful that, though it was extended by Canadian friends, I, nevertheless, would be speaking in a country other than my own, and to citizens or residents of a nation which is at peace -- or at least, officially at peace.

You have asked me to tell you something of the causes and ideals which led us to take up arms; something of what Canada is doing, and has been doing, as a nation at war; something, too, of our hopes for the world which will rise when peace comes again to bless mankind.

The Canadian people entered this war of their own free will. As one people, we made the momentous decision by the free vote of a free Parliament. Our declaration of war was signed by the King upon the recommendation of His Majesty’s Canadian Ministers. The King’s proclamation was in the name of Canada. We, in Canada, were as free to make war or to abstain from making war, as the people of the United States are free to make war or to abstain from making war.

The decision of the Canadian Parliament was given as soon after the outbreak of war as Parliament could be called together. It was a prompt and united decision. There was no hesitation. There was no compulsion.  We knew humanity’s cry was upon us all. We took our stand as a free and independent people who wished to do their utmost to thwart aggression, to maintain freedom, to crush the cursed creed of Nazism, to preclude world domination by any power, and to end forever, if that were possible, the substitution of force for reason as an instrument of national policy.

Our people went to war for the sake of Canada, but not for Canada alone. We went to war as well for the sake of Britain, for North American civilization which we are proud to defend, and for the sake of that humanity which is above all nations. We saw clearly that Canadian freedom, that North American freedom, was one with British freedom.

We went to war at Britain’s side because we believed hers to be the right side. I do not hesitate to say that Britain or no Britain, Canada would never have entered the war if, at the outset, our country had not seen the issue clearly for itself and believed it to be what all free peoples know it to be today.

In our unhesitating decision, and our action which followed, we were true to ourselves. For if any nation was ever inspired by high ideals, unselfish motives and a passion for human freedom and social and national justice, that land was and is Canada. We have a national history without stain of aggression, exploitation, or territorial greed. We have worked always in patience for peace.

In our dealings with other nations, we have been amongst the foremost exponents of conciliation, mediation and arbitration; and the most consistent advocates of international good-will and understanding.

We are nationally minded because, as Canadians, we are free and independent. But we see no escape, no safety, no refuge in national isolation. We are internationally minded because our people know that a threat to freedom anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere. We know that there are no longer any geographical defenses strong enough in themselves to prevent the onset of aggression. We know that tyrannical ambition, once it overleaps itself, will overleap every boundary whether it be mountain or sea.

Knowing these things, and realizing the strength of the enemy, we entered the conflict -- English-speaking Canadians, French-speaking Canadians -- as a united nation.

Don’t let any one dare to tell you that French-speaking Canada is not on the side of freedom in this war. The union of the children of New France and their English-speaking brothers which fashioned the Canadian nation remains unbroken and will always so remain.

The generosity of our citizenship into which men of many races have been freely welcomed, has been repaid by unquestioned loyalty to our institutions and our cause.

As soon as the cloud on the horizon, no larger than Hitler’s hand, resolved itself into the storm of conflict, we determined that we would not wait until the enemy was at our gates. We went to meet him at sea, in the air and on land. Against total war, we have brought and shall continue to bring total effort.

For nearly two years we have been at war. In the war we have had from the beginning two major tasks. We continue to play two major parts. Like Britain, we are a nation at war with all the power of our resources and all the strength of our will. For nearly two years we have gathered our strength as we have taken our allotted place in the conflict. Our soldiers, our sailors and our airmen are with Britain and her other allies in the front line of battle. Our forces on land, at sea and in the air have been and are being equipped and maintained at our own expense. In addition, like the United States, we are helping Britain by sending to her, to the limit of our capacity, the products of our factories, our farms, our forests and our mines.

The task of arming and fighting as a nation is our own free contribution to the cause of freedom. The task of aiding Britain with munitions and money is an additional effort which Canada is also making for the common cause.

With the United States, and like the United States, we are helping to provide the tools. With Britain and like Britain, we are doing our utmost to help finish the job.

I have tried to tell you why. We believe that everything which free men value and cherish, on this side of the grave, is in peril in this war. The right of men, rich and poor, to be treated as men; the right of men to make the laws by which they shall be governed; the right of men to work where they will, at what they will; the right of womankind to the serenity and sanctity of the home; the right of children to play in safety under peaceful heavens; the right of old men and women to the tranquillity of their sunset; the right to speak the truth in our hearts; the right to worship in our own way the God in whom we believe.

We know that if we lose this fight, all fruits will wither and fall from the tree of liberty. But we shall not lose it. We shall not lose it because the people of Britain stand and will stand in undaunted fortitude and magnificent resistance. We shall not lose it because, although some nations may lie crushed today, their souls can never be destroyed. We shall not lose it because we, on this continent of North America, who have been the pioneers of the frontiers of freedom, have already begun to stamp out the prairie fire of tyranny, anarchy and barbarism which every day draws closer to our homes.

For today, whether we will it or not, we are all roof watchers and fire fighters. As Canadians, we are proud to fight the flames with the people of Britain who have maintained for free men their faith. in freedom, and kept inviolate the majesty of the human spirit.

As Canadians, we are proud of our great and good neighbor, and grateful to know, as all the world knows, that she is with us heart and soul; that her genius, her skill and her strength work against time for those who fight for freedom.

Some day peace will crown the sacrifices of all. When that day comes the peoples of the British Commonwealth and the peoples of the United States will be found at each other’s side, united more closely than ever in one great endeavor to undo the wrongs that have been done mankind. For it is, I believe, the unshaken and unshakable purpose of both that there shall be established upon this earth, now so rapidly becoming hideous with the blackened ruins of civilization itself, a freedom wider, and more deeply founded, than ever before in human history.

Surely we have all come to see that the present conflict is something more than a war between Germany and other powers; that it is "a struggle between permanent and irreconcilable claimants for the soul of man." On the one side stands spiritual freedom with its high regard for human values, the dignity of manhood, the worth of honest toil and the sacredness of human personality. On the other side is the spirit of Nazism and Fascism with their "coarse material standards," their "cult of power as an end in itself," their "subordination of personality to mechanism" and their "worship of an elaborate and soul-destroying organization." This false and evil spirit has, in our own day, in our own and other lands, permeated all too deeply many phases of social and industrial life. It must be the purpose of our high endeavor to destroy it for all time.

While that work is being done, it will be ours, as well, to do all that lies within us to make supreme upon the earth that friendship among men and nations which has ever lain hidden in the heart of mankind.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Clement Attlee: The Atlantic Charter

Clement Attlee gave this speech at the conference of International Labor Organisation representing the British government.

We do not envisage an end to this war save victory. We are determined not only to win the war but to win the peace. Plans must be prepared in advance. Action must be taken now if the end of the war is not to find us unprepared. But the problems of the peace cannot be solved by one nation in isolation. The plans of a post-war Britain must be fitted into the plans of a post-war world, for this fight is not just a fight between nations. It is a fight for the future of civilization. Its result will affect the lives of all men and women -- not only those now engaged in the struggle.

It is certain that until the crushing burden of armaments throughout the world is lifted from the backs of the people, they cannot enjoy the maximum social well-being which is possible. We cannot build the city of our desire under the constant menace of aggression. Freedom from fear and freedom from want must be sought together.

The joint expression of aims common to the United States and the British Commonwealth of Nations known as the Atlantic Charter includes not only purposes covering war but outlines of more distant objectives.

It binds us to endeavor with due respect to our existing obligations to further the enjoyment by all States, great and small, victors and vanquished, of access on equal terms to trade and raw materials which are needed for their economic prosperity. In addition it records our desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing for all labor standards, economic advancement and social security. But it is not enough to applaud these objectives. They must be attained. And if mistakes are to be avoided, there must be the closest international collaboration in which we in the United Kingdom will gladly play our part.

We are determined that economic questions and questions of the universal improvement of standards of living and nutrition shall not be neglected as they were after the last war owing to the preoccupation with political problems. The fact is that wars do not enrich but impoverish the world and bold statesmanship will be needed if we are to repair the ravages of war and to insure to all the highest possible measure of labor standards, economic advancement and social security to which the Atlantic Charter looks forward.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Winston Churchill: Defense of Dunkirk (aka We Shall Fight on the Beaches)

Winston Churchill gave this speech in the House of Commons detailing the defense of Dunkirk. This speech is also known as: "We shall fight on the beaches".

From the moment when the defenses at Sedan on the Meuse were broken at the end of the second week in May only a rapid retreat to Amiens and the south could have saved the British-French armies who had entered Belgium at the appeal of the Belgian King.

This strategic fact was not immediately realized. The French High Command hoped it would be able to close the gap. The armies of the north were under their orders. Moreover, a retirement of that kind would have involved almost certainly the destruction of a fine Belgian Army of twenty divisions and abandonment of the Whole of Belgium.

Therefore, when the force and scope of the German penetration was realized and when the new French Generalissimo, General Weygand, assumed command in place of General Gamelin, an effort was made by the French and British Armies in Belgium to keep holding the right hand of the Belgians and give their own right hand to the newly created French Army which was to advance across the Somme in great strength.

However, the German eruption swept like a sharp scythe south of Amiens to the rear of the armies in the north -- eight or nine armored divisions, each with about 400 armored vehicles of different kinds divisible into small self-contained units.

This force cut off all communications between us and the main French Army. It severed our communications for food and ammunition. It ran first through Amiens, afterward through Abbeville, and it shore its way up the coast to Boulogne and Calais, almost to Dunkirk.

Behind this armored and mechanized onslaught came a number of German divisions in lorries, and behind them, again, plodded comparatively slowly the dull, brute mass of the ordinary German Army and German people, always ready to be led to the trampling down in other lands of liberties and comforts they never have known in their own.

I said this armored scythe stroke almost reached Dunkirk -- almost but not quite. Boulogne and Calais were scenes of desperate fighting. The guards defended Boulogne for a while and were then withdrawn by orders from this country. 

The rifle brigade of the Sixtieth Rifles, with a battalion of British tanks and 1,000 Frenchmen, in all about 4,000 strong, defended Calais to the last. The British brigadier was given an hour to surrender. He spurned the ofier. Four days of intense street fighting passed before the silence reigned in Calais which marked the end of a memorable resistance.

Only thirty unwounded survivors were brought off by the navy, and we do not know the fate of their comrades. Their sacrifice was not, however, in vain. At least two armored divisions which otherwise would have been turned against the B. E. F. had to be sent to overcome them. They have added another page to the glories of the light division.

The time gained enabled the Gravelines water line to be flooded and held by French troops. Thus the port of Dunkirk was held open. When it was found impossible for the armies of the north to reopen their communications through Amiens with the main French armies, only one choice remained. It seemed, indeed, a forlorn hope. The Belgian and French armies were almost surrounded. Their sole line of retreat was to a single port and its neighboring beaches. They were pressed on every side by heavy attacks and were far outnumbered in the air.

When a week ago today I asked the House to fix this afternoon for the occasion of a statement, I feared it would be my hard lot to announce from this box the greatest military disaster of our long history.

I thought, and there were good judges who agreed with me, that perhaps 20,000 or 30,000 men might be re-embarked, but it certainly seemed that the whole French First Army and the whole B. E. F., north of the Amiens-Abbeville gap would be broken up in open field or else have to capitulate for lack of food and ammunition.

These were the hard and heavy tidings I called on the House and nation to prepare themselves for.

The whole root and core and brain of the British Army, around which and upon which we were building and are able to build the great British armies of later years, seemed due to perish upon the field. That was the prospect a week ago, but another blow which might have proved final was still to fall upon us.

The King of the Belgians called upon us to come to his aid. Had not this ruler and his government severed themselves from the Allies who rescued their country from extinction in the late war, and had they not sought refuge in what has been proved to be fatal neutrality, then the French and British armies at the outset might well have saved not only Belgium but perhaps even Holland.  

At the last moment, when Belgium was already invaded, King Leopold called upon us to come to his aid, and even at the last moment we came. He and his brave and efficient army of nearly half a million strong guarded our eastern flank; this kept open our only retreat to the sea.

Suddenly, without any prior consultation and with the least possible notice, without the advice of his ministers and on his own personal act, he sent a plenipotentiary to the German Command surrendering his army and exposing our flank and the means of retreat.

I asked the House a week ago to suspend its judgment because the facts were not clear. I do not think there is now any reason why we should not form our own opinions upon this pitiful episode. The surrender of the Belgian Army compelled the British Army at the shortest notice to cover a flank to the sea of more than thirty miles’ length which otherwise would have been cut off.

In doing this and closing this flank, contact was lost inevitably between the British and two of three corps forming the First French Army who were then further from the coast than we were. It seemed impossible that large numbers of Allied troops could reach the coast. The enemy attacked on all sides in great strength and fierceness, and their main power, air force, was thrown into the battle.

The enemy began to fire cannon along the beaches by which alone shipping could approach or depart. They sowed magnetic mines in the channels and seas and sent repeated waves of hostile aircraft, sometimes more than 100 strong, to cast bombs on a single pier that remained and on the sand dunes.

Their U-boats, one of which was sunk, and motor launches took their toll of the vast traffic which now began. For four or five days the intense struggle raged. All armored divisions, or what was left of them, together with great masses of German infantry and artillery, hurled themselves on the ever narrowing and contracting appendix within which the British and French armies fought.

Meanwhile the Royal Navy, with the willing help of countless merchant seamen and a host of volunteers, strained every nerve and every effort and every craft to embark the British and Allied troops.

Over 220 light warships and more than 650 other vessels were engaged. They had to approach this diflicult coast, often in adverse weather, under an almost ceaseless hail of bombs and increasing concentration of artillery fire. Nor were the seas themselves free from mines and torpedoes.

It was in conditions such as these that our men carried on with little or no rest for days and nights, moving troops across dangerous waters and bringing with them always the men whom they had rescued. The numbers they brought back are the measure of their devotion and their courage.

Hospital ships, which were plainly marked, were the special target for Nazi bombs, but the men and women aboard them never faltered in their duty.

Meanwhile the R. A. F., who already had been intervening in the battle so far as its range would allow it to go from home bases, now used a part of its main metropolitan fighter strength to strike at German bombers.

The struggle was protracted and fierce. Suddenly the scene has cleared. The crash and thunder has momentarily, but only for the moment, died away. The miracle of deliverance achieved by the valor and perseverance, perfect discipline, faultless service, skill and unconquerable vitality is a manifesto to us all.

The enemy was hurled back by the British and French troops. He was so roughly handled that he dare not molest their departure seriously. The air force decisively defeated the main strength of the German Air Force and inflicted on them a loss of at least four to one.

The navy, using nearly 1,000 ships of all kinds, carried over 335,000 men, French and British, from the jaws of death back to their native land and to the tasks which lie immediately before them.

We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations, but there was a victory inside this deliverance which must be noted.

Many of our soldiers coming back have not seen the air force at work. They only saw the bombers which escaped their protective attack. This was a great trial of strength between the British and German Air Forces.

Can you conceive of a greater objective for the power of Germany in the air than to make all evacuations from these beaches impossible and to sink all of the ships, numbering almost 1,000? Could there have been an incentive of greater military importance and significance to the whole purpose of the war?

They tried hard and were beaten back. They were frustrated in their task; we have got the armies away and they have paid fourfold for any losses sustained. Very large formations of German airplanes were turned on several occasions from the attack by a quarter their number of R. A. F. planes and dispersed in different directions. Twelve airplanes have been hunted by two. One airplane was driven into the water and cast away by the charge of a British airplane which had no more ammunition.

All of our types and our pilots have been vindicated. The Hurricane, Spitfires and Defiance have been vindicated. When I consider how much greater would be our advantage in defending the air above this island against overseas attacks, I find in these facts a sure basis on which practical and reassuring thoughts may rest, and I will pay my tribute to these young airmen.

May it not be that the cause of civilization itself will be defended by the skill and devotion of a few thousand airmen? There never has been, I suppose, in all the history of the world such opportunity for youth.

The Knights of the Round Table and the Crusaders have fallen back into distant days, not only distant but prosaic; but these young men are going forth every morning, going forth holding in their hands an instrument of colossal shattering power, of whom it may be said that every morn brought forth a noble chance and every chance brought forth a noble deed. These young men deserve our gratitude, as all brave men who in so many ways and so many occasions are ready and will continue to be ready to give their life and their all to their native land.

I return to the army. In a long series of very fierce battles, now on this front, now on that, fighting on three fronts at once, battles fought by two or three divisions against an equal or sometimes larger number of the enemy, and fought very fiercely on old ground so many of us knew so well, our losses in men exceed 30,000 in killed, wounded and missing. I take this occasion for expressing the sympathy of the House with those who have suffered bereavement or are still anxious.

The President of the Board of Trade is not here today. His son has been killed, and many here have felt private afliction of the sharpest form, but I would say about the missing -- we have had a large number of wounded come home safely to this country -- there may be very many reported missing who will come back home some day.

In the confusion of departure it is inevitable that many should be cut off. Against this loss of over 30,000 men we may set the far heavier loss certainly inflicted on the enemy, but our losses in material are enormous. We have perhaps lost one-third of the men we lost in the opening days of the battle on March 21, 1918, but we have lost nearly as many guns -- nearly 1,000 -- and all our transport and all the armored vehicles that were with the army of the north.

These losses will impose further delay on the expansion of our military strength. That expansion has not been proceeding as fast as we had hoped. The best of all we had to give has been given to the B. E. F., and although they had not the number of tanks and some articles of equipment which were desirable they were a very well and finely equipped army. They had the first fruits of all our industry had to give. That has gone and now here is further delay.

How long it will be, how long it will last depends upon the exertions which we make on this island. An effort, the like of which has never been seen in our records, is now being made. Work is proceeding night and day, Sundays and week days. Capital and labor have cast aside their interests, rights and customs and put everything into the common stock. Already the flow of munitions has leaped forward. There is no reason why we should not in a few months overtake the sudden and serious loss that has come upon us without retarding the development of our general program.

Nevertheless, our thankfulness at the escape of our army with so many men, and the thankfulness of their loved ones, who passed through an agonizing week, must not blind us to the fact that what happened in France and Belgium is a colossal military disaster.

The French Army has been weakened, the Belgian Army has been lost and a large part of those fortified lines upon which so much faith was reposed has gone, and many valuable mining districts and factories have passed into the enemy’s possession.

The whole of the channel ports are in his hands, with all the strategic consequences that follow from that, and we must expect another blow to be struck almost immediately at us or at France.

We were told that Hitler has plans for invading the British Isles.  This has often been thought of before. When Napoleon lay at Boulogne for a year with his flat-bottomed boats and his Grand Army, someone told him there were bitter weeds in England. There certainly were and a good many more of them have since been returned. The whole question of defense against invasion is powerfully affected by the fact that we have for the time being in this island incomparably more military forces than we had in the last war. But this will not continue.  We shall not be content with a defensive war. We have our duty to our Allies.

We have to reconstitute and build up the B. E. F. once again under its gallant Commander in Chief, Lord Gort. All this is en train. But now I feel we must put our defense in this island into such a high state of organization that the fewest possible numbers will be required to give effectual security and that the largest possible potential offensive effort may be released.

On this we are now engaged. It would be very convenient to enter upon this subject in secret sessions. The government would not necessarily be able to reveal any great military secrets, but we should like to have our discussions free and without the restraint imposed by the fact that they would be read the next day by the enemy.

The government would benefit by the views expressed by the House.  I understand that some request is to be made on this subject, which will be readily acceded to by the government. We have found it necessary to take measures of increasing stringency, not only against enemy aliens and suspicious characters of other nationalities but also against British subjects who may become a danger or a nuisance should the war be transported to the United Kingdom.

I know there are a great many people affected by the orders which we have made who are passionate enemies of Nazi Germany. I am very sorry for them, but we cannot, under the present circumstances, draw all the distinctions we should like to do. If parachute landings were attempted and fierce fights followed, those unfortunate people would be far better out of the way for their own sake as well as ours.

There is, however, another class for which I feel not the slightest sympathy. Parliament has given us powers to put down fifth column activities with the strongest hand, and we shall use those powers subject to the supervision and correction of the House without hesitation until we are satisfied and more than satisfied that this malignancy in our midst has been effectually stamped out.

Turning once again to the question of invasion, there has, I will observe, never been a period in all those long centuries of which we boast when an absolute guarantee against invasion, still less against serious raids, could have been given to our people. In the days of Napoleon the same wind which might have carried his transports across the Channel might have driven away a blockading fleet. There is always the chance, and it is that chance which has excited and befooled the imaginations of many continental tyrants.

We are assured that novel methods will be adopted, and when we see the originality, malice and ingenuity of aggression which our enemy displays we may certainly prepare ourselves for every kind of novel stratagem and every kind of brutal and treacherous manoeuvre.  I think no idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered and viewed with a watchful, but at the same time steady, eye.

We must never forget the solid assurances of sea power and those which belong to air power if they can be locally exercised. I have myself full confidence that if all do their duty and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our island home, ride out the storms of war and outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary, for years, if necessary, alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government, every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation. The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and their need, will defend to the death their native soils, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength, even though a large tract of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule.

We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air.

We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills.  We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World, with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Winston Churchill: Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat

Winston Churchill gave this talk when he became Prime Minister in preparation for the Second World War.

On friday evening last I received from His Majesty the mission to form a new administration. It was the evident will of Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties.

I have already completed the most important part of this task. A war cabinet has been formed of five members, representing, with the Labor, Opposition and Liberals, the unity of the nation.

It was necessary that this should be done in one single day on account of the extreme urgency and rigor of events. Other key positions were filled yesterday. I am submitting a further list to the King tonight. I hope to complete the appointment of principal Ministers during tomorrow.

The appointment of other Ministers usually takes a little longer. I trust when Parliament meets again this part of my task will be completed and that the administration will be complete in all respects.
I considered it in the public interest to suggest to the Speaker that the House should be summoned today. At the end of today’s proceedings, the adjournment of the House will be proposed until May 21 with provision for earlier meeting if need be. Business for that will be notified to M. P.’s at the earliest opportunity.
I now invite the House by a resolution to record its approval of the steps taken and declare its confidence in the new government. The resolution:
"That this House welcomes the formation of a government representing the united and inflexible resolve of the nation to prosecute the war with Germany to a victorious conclusion."

To form an administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself. But we are in the preliminary phase of one of the greatest battles in history. We are in action at many other points -- in Norway and in Holland -- and we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean. The air battle is continuing, and many preparations have to be made here at home.

In this crisis I think I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today, and I hope that any of my friends and colleagues or former colleagues who are affected by the political reconstruction will make all allowances for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act.

I say to the House as I said to Ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.

You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs -- victory in spite of all terrors -- victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.

Let that be realized. No survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge, the impulse of the ages, that mankind shall move forward toward his goal.

I take up my task in buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men.

I feel entitled at this juncture, at this time, to claim the aid of all and to say, "Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pericles: Oration regarding first Athenian soldier casualties of the Peloponnesian War

Pericles gave this funeral oration in honor of the first soldier casualties of the Peloponnesian War.

Many of those who have spoken before me on these occasions have commended the author of that law which we now are obeying for having instituted an oration to the honor of those who sacrifice their lives in fighting for their country. For my part, I think it sufficient for men who have proved their virtue in action, by action to be honored for it -- by such as you see the public gratitude now performing about this funeral; and that the virtues of many ought not to be endangered by the management of any one person when their credit must precariously depend on his oration, which may be good and may be bad. Difficult, indeed, it is, judiciously to handle a subject where even probable truth will hardly gain assent. The hearer, enlightened by a long acquaintance, and warm in his affection, may quickly pronounce everything unfavorably expressed in respect to what he wishes and what he knows -- while the stranger pronounces all exaggerated through envy of those deeds which he is conscious are above his own achievement. For the praises bestowed upon others are then only to be endured, when men imagine they can do those feats they hear to have been done; they envy what they cannot equal, and immediately pronounce it false. Yet, as this solemnity hath received its sanction from the authority of our ancestors, it is my duty also to obey the law and to endeavor to procure, as far as I am able, the good-will and approbation of all my audience.

I shall therefore begin first with our forefathers, since both justice and decency require we should on this occasion bestow on them an honorable remembrance. In this our country they kept themselves always firmly settled, and through their valor handed it down free to every since-succeeding generation. Worthy, indeed, of praise are they, and yet more worthy are our immediate fathers, since, enlarging their own inheritance into the extensive empire which we now possess, they bequeathed that, their work of toil, to us their sons. Yet even these successes we ourselves here present, we who are yet in the strength and vigor of our days, have nobly improved, and have made such provisions for this our Athens that now it is all-sufficient in itself to answer every exigence of war and of peace. I mean not here to recite those martial exploits by which these ends were accomplished, or the resolute defenses we ourselves and our fathers have made against the formidable invasions of Barbarians and Greeks -- your own knowledge of these will excuse the long detail. But by what methods we have risen to this height of glory and power, by what polity and by what conduct we are thus aggrandized, I shall first endeavor to show, and then proceed to the praise of the deceased. These, in my opinion, can be no impertinent topics on this occasion; the discussion of them must be beneficial to this numerous company of Athenians and of strangers.

We are happy in a form of government which cannot envy the laws of our neighbors -- for it hath served as a model to others, but is original at Athens. And this our form, as committed not to the few, but to the whole body of the people, is called a democracy. How different soever in a private capacity, we all enjoy the same general equality our laws are fitted to preserve; and superior honors just as we excel. The public administration is not confined to a particular family, but is attainable only by merit. Poverty is not a hindrance, since whoever is able to serve his country meets with no obstacle to preferment from his first obscurity. The offices of the state we go through without obstructions from one another; and live together in the mutual endearments of private life without suspicions; not angry with a neighbor for following the bent of his own humor, nor putting on that countenance of discontent, which pains though it cannot punish -- so that in private life we converse without diffidence or damage, while we dare not on any account offend against the public, through the reverence we bear to the magistrates and the laws, chiefly to those enacted for redress of the injured, and to those unwritten, a breach of which is thought a disgrace. Our laws have further provided for the mind most frequent intermissions of care by the appointment of public recreations and sacrifices throughout the year, elegantly performed with a peculiar pomp, the daily delight of which is a charm that puts melancholy to flight. The grandeur of this our Athens causeth the produce of the whole earth to be imported here, by which we reap a familiar enjoyment, not more of the delicacies of our own growth than of those of other nations.

In the affairs of war we excel those of our enemies, who adhere to methods opposite to our own. For we lay open Athens to general resort, nor ever drive any stranger from us whom either improvement or curiosity hath brought amongst us, lest any enemy should hurt us by seeing what is never concealed. We place not so great a confidence in the preparatives and artifices of war as in the native warmth of our souls impelling us to action. In point of education the youth of some peoples are inured, by a course of laborious exercise, to support toil and exercise like men, but we, notwithstanding our easy and elegant way of life, face all the dangers of war as intrepidly as they. This may be proved by facts, since the Lacedaemonians never invade our territories barely with their own, but with the united strength of all their confederates. But when we invade the dominions of our neighbors, for the most part we conquer without difficulty in an enemy’s country those who fight in defense of their own habitations. The strength of our whole force no enemy yet hath ever experienced, because it is divided by our naval expeditions, or engaged in the different quarters of our service by land. But if anywhere they engage and defeat a small party of our forces, they boastingly give it out a total defeat; and if they are heat, they were certainly overpowered by our united strength. What though from a state of inactivity rather than laborious exercise, or with a natural rather than an acquired valor, we learn to encounter danger? -- this good, at least, we receive from it, that we never droop under the apprehension of possible misfortunes, and when we hazard the danger, are found no less courageous than those who are continually inured to it. In these respects our whole community deserves justly to be admired, and in many we have yet to mention.

In our manner of living we show an elegance tempered with frugality, and we cultivate philosophy without enervating the mind. We display our wealth in the season of beneficence, and not in the vanity of discourse. A confession of poverty is disgrace to no man, no effort to avoid it is disgrace indeed. There is visible in the same persons an attention to their own private concerns and those of the public; and in others engaged in the labors of life there is a competent skill in the affairs of government.  For we are the only people who think him that does not meddle in state affairs -- not indolent, but good for nothing. And yet we pass the soundest judgments, and are quick at catching the right apprehensions of things, not thinking that words are prejudicial to actions, but rather the not being duly prepared by previous debate before we are obliged to proceed to execution. Herein consists our distinguishing excellence, that in the hour of action we show the greatest courage, and yet debate beforehand the expediency of our measures. The courage of others is the result of ignorance; deliberation makes them cowards. And those undoubtedly must be owned to have the greatest souls, who, most acutely sensible of the miseries of war and the sweets of peace, are not hence in the least deterred from facing danger.

In acts of beneficence, further, we differ from the many. we preserve friends not by receiving, but by conferring, obligations. For he who does a kindness hath the advantage over him who, by the law of gratitude, becomes a debtor to his benefactor. The person obliged is compelled to act the more insipid part, conscious that a return of kindness is merely a payment and not an obligation. And we alone are splendidly beneficent to others, not so much from interested motives as for the credit of pure liberality. I shall sum up what yet remains by only adding that our Athens in general is the school of Greece; and that every single Athenian amongst us is excellently formed, by his personal qualification, for all the various scenes of active life, acting with a most graceful demeanor and a most ready habit of despatch.

That I have not on this occasion made use of a pomp of words, but the truth of facts, that height to which by such a conduct this state hath risen, is an undeniable proof. For we are now the only people of the world who are found by experience to be greater than in report -- the only people who, repelling the attacks of an invading enemy, exempt their defeat from the blush of indignation, and to their tributaries yield no discontent, as if subject to men unworthy to command. That we deserve our power, we need no evidence to manifest. We have great and signal proofs of this, which entitle us to the admiration of the present and future ages. We want no Homer to be the herald of our praise; no poet to deck off a history with the charms of verse, where the opinion of exploits must suffer by a strict relation. Every sea hath been opened by our fleets, and every land hath been penetrated by our armies, which have everywhere left behind them eternal monuments of our enmity and our friendship.

In the just defense of such a state, these victims of their own valor, scorning the ruin threatened to it, have valiantly fought and bravely died. And every one of those who survive is ready, I am persuaded, to sacrifice life in such a cause. And for this reason have I enlarged so much on national points, to give the clearest proof that in the present war we have more at stake than men whose public advantages are not so valuable, and to illustrate, by actual evidence, how great a commendation is due to them who are now my subject, and the greatest part of which they have already received. For the encorniums with which I have celebrated the state have been earned for it by the bravery of these and of men like these. And such compliments might be thought too high and exaggerated if passed on any Greeks but them alone. The fatal period to which these gallant souls are now reduced is the surest evidence of their merit -- an evidence begun in their lives and completed in their deaths. For it is a debt of justice to pay superior honors to men who have devoted their lives in fighting for their country, though inferior to others in every virtue but that of valor. Their last service effaceth all former demerits -- it extends to the public; their private demeanors reached only to a few. Yet not one of these was at all induced to shrink from danger, through fondness of those delights which the peaceful affluent life bestows -- not one was the less lavish of his life, through that flattering hope attendant upon want, that poverty at length might be exchanged for affluence. One passion there was in their minds much stronger than these -- the desire of vengeance on their enemies. Regarding this as the most honorable prize of dangers, they boldly rushed towards the mark to glut revenge and then to satisfy those secondary passions. The uncertain event they had already secured in hope; what their eyes showed plainly must be done they trusted their own valor to accomplish, thinking it more glorious to defend themselves and die in the attempt than to yield and live. From the reproach of cowardice, indeed, they fled, but presented their bodies to the shock of battle; when, insensible of fear, but triumphing in hope, in the doubtful charge they instantly dropped -- and thus discharged the duty which brave men owed to their country.
As for you, who now survive them, it is your business to pray for a better fate, but to think it your duty also to preserve the same spirit and warmth of courage against your enemies; not judging of the expediency of this from a mere harangue -- where any man indulging a flow of words may tell you what you yourselves know as well as he, how many advantages there are in fighting valiantly against your enemies -- but, rather, making the daily—increasing grandeur of this community the object of your thoughts and growing quite enamored of it. And when it really appears great to your apprehensions, think again that this grandeur was acquired by brave and valiant men, by men who knew their duty, and in the moments of action were sensible of shame; who, whenever their attempts were unsuccessful, thought it no dishonor for their country to stand in need of anything their valor could do for it, and so made it the most glorious present. Bestowing thus their lives on the public, they have every one received a praise that will never decay, a sepulchre that will always be most illustrious -- not that in which their bones lie moldering, but that in which their fame is preserved, to be on every occasion, when honor is the employ of either word or act, eternally remembered. For the whole earth is the sepulchre of illustrious men; nor is it the inscription on the columns in their native land alone that shows their merit, but the memorial of them, better than all inscriptions, in every foreign nation, reposited more durably in universal remembrance than on their own tombs. From this very moment, emulating these noble patterns, placing your happiness in liberty, and liberty in valor, be prepared to encounter all the dangers of war. For to be lavish of life is not so noble in those whom misfortunes have reduced to misery and despair, as in men who hazard the loss of a comfortable subsistence and the enjoyment of all the blessings this world affords by an unsuccessful enterprise. Adversity, after a series of ease and aflluence, sinks deeper into the heart of a man of spirit than the stroke of death insensibly received in the vigor of life and public hope.
For this reason, the parents of those who are now gone, whoever of them may be attending here, I do not bewail -- I shall rather comfort. It is well known to what unhappy accidents they were liable from the moment of their birth, and that happiness belongs to men who have reached the most glorious period of life, as these now have who are to you the source of sorrow -- these whose life hath received its ample measure, happy in its continuance and equally happy in its conclusion. I know it in truth a difficult task to fix comfort in those breasts which will have frequent remembrances, in seeing the happiness of others, of what they once themselves enjoyed. And sorrow flows not from the absence of those good things we have never yet experienced, but from the loss of those to which we have been accustomed. They who are not yet by age past child-bearing should be comforted in the hope of having more. The children yet to be born will be a private benefit to some in causing them to forget such as no longer are, and will be a double benefit to their country in preventing its desolation and providing for its security. For those persons cannot in common justice be regarded as members of equal value to the public who have no children to expose to danger for its safety. But you, whose age is already far advanced, compute the greater share of happiness your longer time hath afforded for so much gain, persuaded in yourselves the remainder will be but short, and enlighten that space by the glory gained by these. It is greatness of soul alone that never grows old, nor is it wealth that delights in the latter stage of life, as some give out, so much as honor.

To you, the sons and brothers of the deceased, whatever number of you are here, a field of hardy contention is opened. For him who no longer is, every one is ready to commend, so that to whatever height you push your deserts, you will scarce ever be thought to equal, but to be somewhat inferior to these. Envy will exert itself against a competitor while life remains; but when death stops the competition, affection will applaud without restraint.

If after this it be expected from me to say anything to you who are now reduced to a state of widowhood, about female virtue, I shall express it all in one short admonition: It is your greatest glory not to be deficient in the virtue peculiar to your sex, and to give men as little handle as possible to talk of your behavior, whether well or ill.

I have now discharged the province allotted me by the laws, and said what I thought most pertinent to this assembly. Our departed friends have by facts been already honored. Their children from this day till they arrive at manhood shall be educated at the public expense of the state which hath appointed so beneficial a meed for these and all future relics of the public contests. For wherever the greatest rewards are proposed for virtue, there the best of patriots are ever to be found. Now let every one respectively indulge in becoming grief for his departed friends, and then retire.