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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Winston Churchill: Their Finest Hour

Winston Churchill gave this speech in the House of Commons in 1940 after the fall of France.

I spoke the other day of the colossal military disaster which occurred when the French High Command failed to withdraw the northern armies from Belgium at a moment when they knew that the French front was decisively broken at Sedan and on the Meuse.

This delay entailed the loss of fifteen or sixteen French divisions and threw out of action the whole of the British Expeditionary Force.

Our army were indeed rescued by the British Navy from Dunkirk, but only with the loss of all their cannon, vehicles and modern equipment. This loss inevitably took some weeks to repair, and in the first two of these weeks the Battle of France had been lost.

When we consider the heroic resistance made by the French Army against heavy odds in this battle, and the enormous loss inflicted upon the enemy and the evident exhaustion of the enemy, it might well be thought that these twenty-five divisions of the best troops -- best trained and equipped -- might have turned the scales. However, General Weygand had to fight 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 fighting in the line in this battle instead of only three.

Now I put all this aside. I put it on the shelf from which the historians may select their documents in order to tell their story. 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 wish to hold an inquest upon the conduct of the government and of Parliament during the years which led up to this catastrophe. They wish 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, as I frequently search mine. Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present we shall find that we have lost the future.

Therefore I cannot accept the drawing of any distinctions between members of the present government which was formed in a moment of crisis in order to unite members of all parties and all sections of opinion. It has received the almost unanimous support of both Houses of Parliament and its members are going to stand together and, subject to the authority of the House of Commons, we are going to govern the country and fight 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 who are here today and gone tomorrow.

Their directions must be punctually and effectively given. Without this concentrated power we cannot do what lies before us. I do not think it would be very advantageous for the House to prolong this debate this afternoon under the conditions of a public sitting. We are to have a secret session on Thursday that would be a better opportunity for many earnest expressions of opinion which may be desired for the House to discuss our vital matters without having everything read the next morning by our dangerous foe.

The military events which have happened in France during the last fortnight have not come to me with any sense of surprise; indeed, I indicated a fortnight ago as clearly as I could to the House, that the worst possibilities were open and I made it perfectly clear that whatever happened in France, it would make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the British Empire to fight on, if necessary for years, and if necessary alone.

During the last few days we have successfully brought off the great majority of troops which were on the lines of communication in France. A very large number, scores of thousands, and seven-eighths of all the troops we have sent to France since the beginning of the war. About 350,010 out of 400,000 men are safely back in this country. Others are still fighting with the French and fighting with considerable success.

We have also brought back a great mass of stores, rifles and munitions of all kinds which have accumulated in France during the last nine months. We have therefore in this island today a very large and powerful military force. This includes all our best trained and finest troops, including scores of thousands of those who have already measured their quality against the Germans and found themselves at no disadvantage.

We have under arms at the present time in this island over 1,250,000 men. Behind these we have the local defense volunteers, numbering 500,000, only a portion of whom, however, are armed with rifles or other firearms.

We have incorporated into our defense force a mass of weapons and we expect very large additions to these weapons in the near future. In preparation, we intend to call up, drill and train, further large numbers at once.

Those who are not called up or who are employed upon the vast business of munitions production in all its branches serve their country best by remaining at their ordinary work until they are required.

We also have the Dominion armies here. The Canadians had actually landed in France, but have now been safely withdrawn much disappointed and are here with all their artillery and equipment. These very high-class forces from the dominions will now take part in the defense of their mother country.

Lest the account which I have given of these large forces should raise the question why they did not take part in the great battle in France, I must make it clear that apart from the divisions training at home, only twelve divisions were equipped to fight on a scale which justified their being sent abroad. This was fully up to the number that 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 will steadily increase.

Thus, the invasion of Great Britain at this time would require the transport across the seas 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 immense mass of munitions and supplies which are required for continuous battle, as continuous battle it would be.  

Now here is where we come to the navy. After all, we have a navy; some people seem to forget it. We must remind them. For more than thirty years I have been concerned in discussions about the possibility of an overseas invasion and I took the responsibility on behalf of the Admiralty at the beginning of the last war of allowing all the regular troops to be sent out of the country although our Territorials had only just been called up and were quite untried.

Therefore, these islands for several months were denuded of fighting forces, but the Admiralty had confidence in the defense by the navy, although at that time the Germans had a magnificent battle fleet in the proportion of 10 to 16 and even though they were capable of fighting a general engagement any day. Now they have only a couple of heavy ships worth speaking of.

We are also told that the Italian Navy is coming to gain sea superiority in these waters. If that is seriously intended, I can only say we shall be delighted to offer Mussolini free safeguarded passage through the Straits of Gibraltar in order that he may play the part which he aspires to do. There is general curiosity in the British Fleet to find out whether the Italians are up to the level they were in the last war or whether they have fallen off.

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 than we were at many periods in the last war and during the early months of this war before our troops were trained and while the British Expeditionary Force was abroad.

The navy was never intended to prevent the raids of bodies of five or ten thousand men flung across and thrown suddenly ashore at several points on the coast some dark night or foggy morning. The efficacy of sea power, especially under modern conditions, depends upon the invading force being of a large size and, if it is of a large size, the navy has something they can find and, as it were, bite on.

Now we must remember that even five divisions, even 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 and marshal it across the seas with any powerful naval force to escort it with any possibility that it would not be intercepted long before it reached the coast and the men all drowned in the sea, or, at the worst, blown to pieces with their equipment when they were trying to land.

We have also a great system of mine fields, recently reinforced, through which we alone know the channel. If the enemy tries to sweep a channel through these mine fields it will be the task of the navy to destroy these mine-sweepers and any other force employed to protect them. There ought to be no difficulty about this, owing to our superiority at sea.

These are the well-tested and well-proved arguments on which we have relied for many years, but the question is whether there are any new methods by which they can be circumvented. Odd as it may seem, some attention has been given to this by the Admiralty whose prime duty and responsibility it is to destroy any large sea-borne expedition before it reaches or at the moment when it reaches these shores. It would not be useful to go into details and it might even suggest ideas to other people that they have not got and who would not be likely to give us any of their ideas in exchange.

All I would say is that untiring vigilance and mind-searching must be devoted to the subject, because, the enemy is crafty, cunning and full of novel treacheries and strategies.

The House may be assured that the utmost ingenuity is being displayed by competent officers, well trained in planning and thoroughly up to date, to measure and to counterwork the novel possibilities which many suggest are absurd but seem not utterly rash.

Some people will ask why it was that the British Navy was not able to prevent the movement of a large army from Germany into Norway across the Skagerrak. But 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 surface ships and consequently, lying as we did close to the enemy’s main air power in Norwegian waters, we were compelled to use only our submarines.

We could not enforce a decisive blockade or interruption of the enemy’s surface vessels. Our vessels took a heavy toll but could not prevent the invasion. But in the Channel and in the North Sea, on the other hand, our forces, aided by submarines, will operate with close and effective air assistance.

This brings me naturally to the great question of invasion from the air and 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 ground forces to crush speedily is likely to take place from the air until our air force has been definitely overpowered. In the meantime, there may be raids by parachute troops and attempted descents by air-borne soldiers. We ought to be able to give those gentry a warm reception, both in the air and if they reach the ground in any condition to continue their dispute. 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 reach of our shores, but we have a very powerful air force, which has proved itself far superior in quality both in men and in many types of machines to what we have met so far in the numerous fierce air battles which have been fought.

In France, where we were at a considerable disadvantage and lost many machines on the ground in the airdromes, we were accustomed to inflict upon the enemy a loss of two to two-and-a-half to one. In the fighting over Dunkirk, which was a sort of No Man’s Land, we undoubtedly gained a local mastery of the air and inflicted on the German Air Force losses on the scale of three or four to one.  

Any one looking at the photographs of the re-embarkation, showing the masses of troops assembled on the beaches, affording an ideal target for hours at a time, must realize that this embarkation would not have been possible unless the enemy had resigned all hope of recovery of air superiority at that point.

In these islands the advantage to the defenders will be very great. We ought to improve upon that rate of three or four to one, which was realized at Dunkirk.

In addition, there are, of course, a great many injured machines and men who get down safely after an air fight. But all those who fall in an attack upon this island would land on friendly soil and live to fight another day, whereas all the injured enemy machines and their complements will be total losses, as far as the Germans are concerned.

During the great battle in France we gave very great and continuous aid to the French, both by fighters and bombers, but in spite of all pressure, we never allowed the entire metropolitan strength of our air force in fighters to be consumed. This decision was painful, but it was also right.

The battle was, however, lost by the unfortunate strategic opening and by the extraordinary unforeseen power of the armored columns and by the very great preponderance of the German Army in numbers.

Our fighter air force might easily have been exhausted as a mere incident in that struggle and we should have found ourselves at the present time in a very unhappy plight. I am happy to inform the House that our fighter air strength is stronger at the present time relatively to the German, which has suffered terrible losses, than it has ever been. Consequently we believe ourselves to possess the capacity to continue the war in the air under better conditions than we have ever experienced before.

I look forward confidently to the exploits of our fighter pilots, who will have the glory of saving their native land and our island home from the most deadly of all attacks.

There remains the danger of the bombing attacks, which will certainly be made very soon upon us by the bomber forces of the enemy. It is quite true that these forces are superior in number to ours, but we have a very large bombing force also which we shall use to strike at the military targets in Germany without intermission.

I do not at all underrate the severity of the ordeal which lies before us, but I believe that our countrymen will show themselves capable of standing up to it and carrying on in spite of it at least as well as any other people in the world.

It will depend upon themselves, and every man and woman will have the chance of showing the finest qualities of their race and of rendering the highest service to their cause.

For all of us, whatever our sphere or station, 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 on this occasion to give the House and the country some indication of the solid, practical grounds upon which we are basing our invincible resolve to continue the war, and I can assure them that our professional advisers of the three services unitedly advise that we should do it, and that there are good and reasonable hopes of final victory.

We have fully informed all the self-governing dominions and we have received from all Prime Ministers messages couched in the most moving terms, in which they endorse our decision and declare themselves ready to share our fortunes and persevere to the end.

We may now ask ourselves in what way has our position worsened since the beginning of the war. It is worsened by the fact that the Germans have conquered a large part of the coast of the Allies in Western Europe, and many small countries have been overrun by them. This aggravates the possibility of air attack and adds to our naval preoccupation, but it in no way diminishes, but on the contrary definitely increases, the power of our long-distance blockade.

Should military resistance come to an end in France -- which is not yet, though it will in any case be greatly diminished -- the Germans can concentrate their forces both military and industrial upon us. But for the reason given to the House this will not be easy to apply.

If invasion becomes more imminent, we have been relieved from the task of maintaining a large army in France and we have a far larger and more efficient force here to meet it.

If Hitler can bring under 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 continued and increasing support in munitions of all kinds from the United States, and especially of airplanes and pilots from across the ocean. They will come from regions 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 half Europe writhing and starving under its heel, which, for all their ruthlessness, will run them very hard.

We must not forget that from the moment we declared war on Sept. 3, it was always possible for Germany to turn all her air force on this country. There would also be other devices of invasion, and France could do little or nothing to prevent her. We have therefore lived under this danger during 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, of the individual superiority of our aircraft and pilots.

Therefore in casting up this dread balance sheet and contemplating our dangers with a disillusioned eye, I see great reasons for intense exertion and vigilance, but none whatever for panic or despair. During the first four months of the last war the Allies experienced nothing but disaster and disappointment, and yet at the end their morale was higher than that of the Germans, who had moved from one aggressive triumph to another.

During that war we repeatedly asked ourselves the question, "How are we going to win?" and no one was ever able to answer it with much precision, until at the end, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, our terrible foe collapsed before us and we were so glutted with victory that in our folly we cast 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 away 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 Frenchmen and of our own hearts, we have proclaimed our willingness to conclude at the darkest hour in French history a union of common citizenship in their struggle.

However matters may go in France or with the French Government, or another French Government, 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 suffered, we shall emulate their courage, and if final victory rewards our toils they shall share the gain -- aye, freedom shall be restored to all. We abate nothing of our just demands. Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch and Belgians, who have joined their causes with our own, all shall be restored.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin. On 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 upon us. Hitler knows he will have to break us in this island or lose the war.

If we can stand up to him all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad sunlit uplands; but if we fail, the whole world, including the United States and all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister and perhaps more prolonged by the lights of a perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and Empire last for a thousand years, men will still say "This was their finest hour."

Friday, July 26, 2013

Neville Chamberlain: The Munich Agreement

Neville Chamberlain gave this speech in the House of Commons defending his position in signing the Munich Agreement in 1938.

When the House met last Wednesday we were all under the shadow of an imminent menace. A war more stark and terrible than had ever taken place before seemed to be staring us in the face. Before I had sat down, a message had come which gave us new hope that peace might yet be saved. That day, or a few days later, we joined in. joy and thankfulness that the prayers of millions had been answered.  

Our anxiety has been lifted from our hearts. On the members of the Cabinet the strain of responsibility has been for weeks almost overwhelming. Some of us, I have no doubt, will carry the marks of it for the rest of our days.

Hard things have been said about the German Chancellor today and in the past, but I do feel that the House ought to recognize the difficulty for a man in that position to take back such an emphatic declaration as he had already made and to recognize that in consenting, even though it were only at the last minute, to discuss with the representatives of other powers those things which he had declared he had already decided once and for all, was a real contribution on his part.

As regards Signor Mussolini, his contribution was certainly notable, and perhaps decisive. It was on his suggestion that the final stages of mobilization were postponed for twenty-four hours, to give us an opportunity of discussing the situation, and I wish to say that at the conference itself both he and the Italian Foreign Secretary, Count Ciano, were most helpful in the discussion.  

It was they who, very early in the proceeding, produced a memorandum which Daladier and I were able to accept as a basis of discussion.

I think Europe and the world have reason to be grateful to the head of the Italian government for contributing to a peaceful solution.

Mr. Duff Cooper has alluded in somewhat bitter terms to my conversation last Friday morning with Herr Hitler. I do not know why that conversation should give rise to suspicion, still less to criticism.

I ended it with no pact. I made no new commitments. There is no secret understanding. Our conversation was hostile to no other nations.

The object of that conversation for which I asked was to try to extend a little further the personal contact which I had established with Herr Hitler, which I believed to be essential to modern diplomacy.

Finally, there are the noncommittal conversations carried on on my part with a view to seeing whether there could he points in common between the head of a democratic government and the ruler of a totalitarian state. You see the result.

A declaration has been published, in which Mr. Duff Cooper finds so much ground for suspicion. What does it say?

The first paragraph says, "That we agree in recognizing that the question of Anglo-German relations is of first importance to the two countries and to Europe."

Will any one deny that?

The second is an expression of opinion only. It says we regard the agreement signed and the Anglo-German naval agreement as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.

Does any one doubt that that is the desire of the people?

[The Prime Minister then read the last paragraph of the declaration suggesting that Germany and Britain might continue their efforts to remove all possible sources of differences.]

Is there any one who will stand up and condemn that sentence? I believe there are many who will feel with me that in this declaration signed by the German Chancellor and myself there is something more than a pious expression of opinion.

In our relations with other countries everything depends upon there being sincerity and goodwill on both sides. I believe there is sincerity and goodwill on both sides. That is why the significance goes far beyond its actual words.

Ever since I assumed my present office my main purpose has been to work for the pacification of Europe, for the removal of those suspicions and animosities which have so long poisoned the air.

The path that leads to peace is a long one and bristles with obstacles. This question of Czechoslovakia is the latest and perhaps the most dangerous. Now that we have got past it I feel that it may be possible to make further progress along the road to sanity.

If there is one lesson which I think we have to learn from the events of this last week, it is this: Peace is not to be obtained by sitting still and waiting for it to come; It requires active and positive effort.

I know I shall have plenty of critics who will say I have been guilty of facile optimism and that the better plan would have been to disbelieve every word by rulers of other great states of Europe.

I am too much of a realist to believe that we are going to achieve our purpose in a day. We have only laid the foundations of peace. The superstructure is not even begun.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Anthony Eden: A Firm Policy

Anthony Eden gave this speech in 1938 when he resigned his Foreign Affairs post in the Chamberlain cabinet.

There are occasions when strong political convictions must override all other considerations. Of such an occasion, only the individual himself can be the judge.

The objective of foreign policy in this country is and must always be the maintenance of peace. If, however, peace is to be enduring, it must rest on foundations of frank reciprocity and of mutual respect. It follows that we must be ready to negotiate with all countries, whatever their forms of government, in order to promote international understanding. But we must also be watchful that, in our conception of such negotiations and in the method by which we seek to further them, we are, in fact, strengthening, not undermining, the foundations on which international confidence rests.

The immediate issue is whether such official conversations (between the British and Italian governments) should be opened in Rome now. In my conviction, the attitude of the Italian government to international problems in general, and this country in particular, is not yet such as to justify this course. The ground has been in no respect prepared. Propaganda against this country by the Italian government is rife throughout the world. I am myself pledged to this House not to open conversations with Italy until this hostile propaganda ceases. Moreover, little progress in fact, though much in promise, has been made with the solution of the Spanish problem. Let me make it plain that I do not suggest and would not advocate that the government should refuse conversations with the Italian government, or indeed with any other government which shows any disposition to conversation with us for betterment of international understanding. Yet we must see that the conditions in which these conversations take place are such as to make for the likelihood, if not for the certainty, of their success. In my view, those conditions do not exist today.

In January of last year, after difficult negotiations, we signed an Anglo-Italian agreement. Within a very few days -- indeed, almost simultaneously -- a considerable consignment of Italians left for Spain. It may be said that this was not a breach of our understanding; but no one, I think, will contend that it did not run counter to its spirit. The same agreement contained a specific clause dealing with the cessation of propaganda, yet propaganda was scarcely diminished for an instant.

Then last summer the Prime Minister and Signor Mussolini exchanged letters, and after that for a few days relations between our two countries took a marked turn for the better. There ensued the incidents in the Mediterranean, with which the House is familiar.

My submission is that we cannot run the risk of further repetition of these experiences.

We must agree not only on the need for withdrawal (of the foreign fighters now in Spain), but on the conditions of withdrawal. We have had assurances enough of that in the past. We must go farther, and show the world not only promises but achievement.

We cannot consider this problem except in relation to the international situation as a whole. We are in the presence of progressive deterioration of respect for international obligations. It is quite impossible to judge these things in a vacuum. This is the moment for this country to stand firm, not to plunge into negotiations unprepared, with foreknowledge that the obstacle to their success has not been resolved.

Agreements that are worth while are never made on the basis of threats, nor, in the past, has this country been willing to negotiate in such conditions.

It has never entered into my conception to suggest that the Italian forces alone should be withdrawn from Spain, but only that the Italian government should agree to, and carry out with others, a fair scheme for the proposed withdrawal of all forces from Spain.

I am conscious why I stand here, and why my colleagues take another view. If they are right, their chances for success will certainly be enhanced if their policy is pursued through another Foreign Secretary.

I should not be frank with the House if I pretended it is an isolated issue between the Prime Minister and myself. It is not. Within the last few weeks, upon one of the most important decisions of foreign policy, which did not concern Italy at all, the difference was fundamental. Moreover, it recently has become clear to me, and, I think to him, that there is between us a real difference in the outlook and method.

Of late the conviction has steadily grown upon me that there has been too keen a desire on our part to make terms with others, rather than that others should make terms with us. This has never been the attitude of this country in the past. It should not, in the interests of peace, be our attitude today.

I do not believe we can make progress in European appeasement -- more particularly in the light of the events of the last few days -- if we allow the impression to gain currency abroad that we yield to constant pressure.

I am certain in my own mind that progress depends, above all, on the temper of the nation, and that temper must find expression in a firm spirit. That spirit, I am confident, is there. Not to give voice to it is, I believe, fair neither to this country not to the world.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pius XII: Appeal for Peace

Pius XII (Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli) gave this speech, regarding the Second World War, from the Vatican.

We most cordially greet you all, beloved sons and daughters of Rome and of the entire world, in the spirit of alleluia of Easter morn, in the joyful spirit of the resurrection and peace of Christ, after the desolation of His divine passion: but, unfortunately, there has been no resurrection, no restoration, of peace among nations and in our joyful greeting to you there must be intermingled that note of distress which was the cause of great sadness and continual sorrow to the heart of Paul the Apostle while he was preoccupied about his brethren who were his kinsmen according to the flesh (Romans 9:2).

In the lamentable spectacle of human conflict which we are now witnessing we acknowledge the valor and loyalty of all those who with a deep sense of duty are fighting for the defense and posterity of their fatherland; we recognize, too, the prodigious and in itself efficacious development made in industrial and technical fields; nor do we overlook the many generous and praiseworthy gestures of magnanimity which have been made toward the enemy: but while we acknowledge, we feel obliged none the less to state that the ruthless struggle has at times assumed forms which can be described only as atrocious.

May all belligerents, who also have human hearts molded by mothers’ love, show some feeling of charity for the sufferings of civilian populations, for defenseless women and children, for the sick and aged, all of whom are often exposed to greater and more widespread perils of war than those faced by soldiers at the front.

We beseech the belligerent powers to abstain until the very end from the use of still more homicidal instruments of warfare; for the introduction of such weapons inevitably results in their retaliatory use, often with greater violence and cruelty by the enemy. If already we must lament the fact that the limits of legitimate warfare have been repeatedly exceeded, would not a more widespread use of increasingly barbarous offensive weapons soon transform the war into an unspeakable horror?

In this tempest of misfortunes and perils, of afflictions and fears, our most powerful and safest haven of trust and peace is found in prayer to God, in whose hands rests not only the destiny of men but also the outcome of their most obdurate dissensions; wherefore we express our gratitude to Catholics of the entire world for the fervor with which they responded to our call to prayer and sacrifice for peace on Nov. 24.

Today we repeat that invitation to you and to all those who raise their minds and hearts to God and we beseech you not to relax your prayerful vigilance but rather to reanimate and redouble it.

Yes, let us pray for early peace. Let us pray for universal peace; not for peace based upon the oppression and destruction of peoples but peace which, while guaranteeing the honor of all nations, will satisfy their vital needs and insure the legitimate rights of all.

We have constantly accompanied prayer with our own endeavors. To the very limit of our power and with a vigilant consciousness of impartiality in spirit and in our apostolic office, we have left nothing undone or untried in order to forestall or shorten the conflict, to humanize the methods of war, to alleviate suffering and to bring assistance and comfort to the victims of war.

We have not hesitated to indicate in unmistakably clear terms the necessary principles and sentiments which must constitute the determining basis of a future peace that will assure the sincere and loyal consent of all peoples. But we are saddened to note that there seems to be as yet little likelihood of an approximate realization of peace that will be just, in accordance with human and Christian norms.

Thus our supplications to Heaven must be raised with ever increasing meaning and fervor, that a new spirit may take root and develop in all peoples and especially among those whose greater power gives them wider influence and imposes upon them additional responsibility; the spirit of willingness, devoid of sham and artifice, that is ready to make mutual sacrifices in order to build, upon the accumulated ruins of war, a new edifice of fraternal solidarity among the nations of the world, an edifice built upon new and stronger foundations, with fixed and stable guarantees, and with a high sense of moral sincerity which would repudiate every double standard of morality and justice for the great and small or for the strong and the weak.

Truth, like man, has but a single face: and truth is our weapon, just as prayer is our defense and strength, and the living, sincere and disinterested apostolic word, inspired by fraternal affection, our entree to the hearts of men.

These are not offensive and bloody weapons but the arms of spirit, arms of our mind and heart. Nothing can impede or restrain us from using them to secure and safeguard just rights, true human brotherhood and genuine peace, wherever the sacred duty of our office prompts us and compassion for the multitude rekindles our love.

Nothing can restrain us from repeatedly calling to the observance of the precept of love those who are children of the church of Christ, those who, because of their faith in the Divine Saviour, or at least in our Father who is in Heaven, are very near to us.

Nothing can impede or restrain us from doing all in our power in order that, in the tempest of surging waves of enmity among the peoples of the earth, the divine ark of the church of Christ may be held firmly by the anchor of hope under the golden rays of peace -- that blessed vision of peace which, in the midst of worldly conflicts, is the refuge and abode and sustenance of that fraternal spirit, founded in God and ennobled in the shadow of the cross, with which the course must be set if we are to escape from the present tempest and reach the shore of a happier and more deserving future.

However, under the vigilant providence of God and armed only with prayer, exhortation and consolation, we shall persevere in our battle for peace in behalf of suffering humanity. May the blessings and comforts of heaven descend on all victims of this war: upon you who are prisoners and upon your family from whom you are separated and who are anxious about you, and upon you refugees and dispossessed who have lost your homes and land, your life’s support.

We share with you your anguish and suffering. If it is not allowed us -- as we would honestly desire -- to take upon ourselves the burden of your sorrows, may our paternal and cordial sympathy serve as the balm which will temper the bitterness of your misfortune with today’s greeting of the alleluia, the hymn of Christ’s triumph over earthly martyrdom, the blossom of the olive tree of Gethsemane flourishing in the precious hope of resurrection and of the new and eternal life in which there will be neither sorrows nor struggles. In His vale of tears there is no lasting city (Hebrews, xiii, 14), no eternal fatherland.

Here below we are all exiles and Wanderers; our true citizenship, which is limitless, is in heaven, in eternity, in God. If worldly hopes have bitterly deluded you, remember that hope in God never fails or deceives. You must make one resolve, not to allow yourselves to be induced either by your sad lot or by the malice of men to waver in your allegiance to Christ.

Prosperity and adversity are part and parcel of man’s earthly existence; but what is of the utmost importance, and we say it with St. Augustine, is the use that is made of what is called prosperity or adversity. For the virtuous man is neither exalted by worldly well-being nor humbled by temporal misfortune; the evil man, on the other hand, being corrupted in prosperity, is made to suffer in adversity.

To the powers occupying territories during the war, we say, with all due consideration: Let your conscience guide you in dealing justly, humanely and providently with the peoples of occupied territories. Do riot impose upon them burdens which you in similar circumstances have felt or would feel to be unjust.

Prudent and helpful humanitarianism is the commendation and boast of wise generals; and the treatment of prisoners and civilians in occupied areas is the surest indication and proof of the civilization of individuals and nations. But, above all, remember that upon the manner in which you deal with those whom the fortunes of war put in your hands may depend the blessing or curse of God on your own fatherland.

Contemplation of a war that is so cruel in all its aspects and the thought of the suffering children of the church inspires in the heart of the common Father and forms upon our lips words of comfort and encouragement for the pastors and faithful of those places where the church, the spouse of Christ, is suffering most; where fidelity to her, the public profession of her doctrines, the conscientious and practical observance of her laws, moral resistance to atheism and to de-Christianizing influences deliberately favored or tolerated, are being openly or insidiously opposed and daily in various ways made increasingly difficult.

The records and artifices of this generally secret and at times even public martyrdom, which insidious or open impiety makes followers of the crucified suffer, are multiplying daily and constitute as it were in an encyclopedia of many volumes, annals of heroic sacrifices, and furnish moving verification of the words of our divine Saviour: "The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20.)

Is this divine warning not a source of tender comfort on that sorrowful and bitter way of the cross which you are following because of your fidelity to Christ? To all of you who are walking so sadly along this way, priests and religious, men and women and particularly you young men, pride and joy of your families, who are called upon to bear the burden of these merciless and bitter days -- whatever be your origin, language, race, social condition or profession -- all you upon whom the seal of suffering for Christ is stamped so clearly, a sign no less of suffering than of glory, as it was to the great Apostle Paul, you are numbered among those privileged intimates who are nearest to the cross of Calvary and by this very fact nearest also to the pierced heart of Christ and to our own.

On that we were able to make you appreciate how profoundly our heart has been pierced by the cry of the Apostle of the Gentiles, "Who is weak, and I am not weak?" (Second Corinthians, 11:29.) The sacrifices you are called upon to make, your suffering in mind and body, your concern for your own faith and still more for the faith of your children, we are aware of them, we share them with you, we lament them before God.

And yet withal, on this day we greet you with joyful alleluia; for it is the day of Christ’s triumph over his crucifiers, open and secret, ancient and modern. We convey that greeting to you with the voice and confidence with which, even in the days of the persecution, the early Christians exultantly sang that alleluia.

Perhaps you do not recall the words of our Lord to Martha: "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me shall not die for ever." (John, xi, 25-26.) The certainty that through sacrifice for their faith, even to the sacrifice of their life, they were assuring themselves of resurrection made of the martyrs heroes of Christ, faithful unto death.

You enjoy that same certainty. Imitate them and with the greatest prophet of the new and eternal testament raise your eyes to that heavenly Jerusalem where Christ gloriously reigns and rules and, while rewarding His good and faithful servants, proclaims the mystery and splendor of their triumph in the shining whiteness of their garments, in the indelible inscription of their names in the book of life and in decreeing that they be exalted before His Father and the heavenly court, with admirable words which you in your perilous trials must never forget: "He that shall overcome, shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels." (Apocalypse, iii:5.)

Beloved sons and daughters! To Jesus Christ, "Prince of Kings of the earth, who hath washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Apocalypse, i:5), raise your eyes while, as pledge of that heavenly peace which He alone can give to us and which we implore of Him in super-abundant measure for all humanity, we impart to you, to pastors and faithful, to your families, to your children, that Christ may protect and keep you in His grace and love; to those who in the fulfillment of duty are fighting on land and sea and in the sky and especially to all those who have been so severely lashed by the scourge of war, with heart overflowing with love, our paternal apostolic benediction.

May the blessings of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, descend upon you and remain forever, amen.