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Winston Churchill Liveblogs WWII: August 24, 1941


Radio Broadast: I thought you would like me to tell you something about the voyage which I made across the ocean to meet our great friend, the President of the United States…. Our party arrived in the newest, or almost the newest, British battleship, the Prince of Wales, with a modest escort of British and Canadian destroyers. And there for three days I spent my time in company, and I think I may say in comradeship, with Mr. Roosevelt, while all the time the chiefs of the staff and naval and military commanders, both of the British Empire and of the United States, sat together in continual council…. The meeting… symbolizes, in a form and manner which every one can understand in every land and in every clime, the deep underlying unities which stir and, at decisive moments, rule the English-speaking peoples throughout the world. Would it be presumptuous for me to say that it symbolizes something even more majestic, namely, the marshalling of the good forces of the world against the evil forces which are now so formidable and triumphant and which have cast their cruel spell over the whole of Europe and a large part of Asia? This was a meeting which marks forever in the pages of history the taking up by the English-speaking nations, amid all this peril, tumult and confusion, of the guidance of the fortunes of the broad toiling masses in all the continents, and our loyal effort, without any clog of selfish interest, to lead them forward out of the miseries into which they have been plunged, back to broad high road of freedom and justice. This is the highest honour and the most glorious opportunity which could ever have come to any branch of the human race….

The whole of Europe has been wrecked and trampled down by the mechanical weapons and barbaric fury of the Nazis. The most deadly instruments of war science have been joined to the extreme refinements of treachery and the most brutal exhibitions of ruthlessness and thus have formed a combine of aggression, the like of which has never been known…. [Hitler] made a treaty of non-aggression with Soviet Russia… to keep them quiet until he was ready to attack them…. [H]e hurled millions of soldiers with all their apparatus upon the neighbour he had called his friend with the avowed object of destroying Russia and tearing her in pieces…. Here is a devil who, in a mere spasm of his pride and lust for domination, can condemn two or three millions, perhaps it may be many more, of human beings to speedy and violent death….

Ah, but this time it was not so easy. This time it was not all one way. The Russian Armies and all the peoples of the Russian Republic have rallied to the defence of their hearths and homes. For the first time Nazi blood has flowed in a fearful flood. Certainly a million and a half, perhaps two millions of Nazi cannon-fodder, have bitten the dust of the endless plains of Russia…. For the first time in his experience mass murder has become unprofitable. He retaliates by the most frightful cruelties. As his armies advance, whole districts are being exterminated. Scores of thousands, literally scores of thousands of executions in cold blood are being perpetrated by the German police troops upon the Russian patriots who defend their native soil. Since the Mongol invasions of Europe in the sixteenth century there has never been methodical, merciless butchery on such a scale or approaching such a scale. And this is but the beginning. Famine and pestilence have yet to follow in the bloody ruts of Hitler's tanks.

We are in the presence of a crime without a name.

But Europe is not the only continent to be tormented and devastated by aggression. For five long years the Japanese military factions seeking to emulate the style of Hitler and Mussolini, taking all their posturing as if it were a new European revelation, have been invading and harrying the 500,000,000 inhabitants of China…. It is certain that this has got to stop. Every effort will be made to secure a peaceful settlement. The United States are labouring with infinite patience to arrive at a fair and amicable settlement which will give Japan the utmost reassurance for her legitimate interests. We earnestly hope these negotiations will succeed. But this I must say: that if these hopes should fail we shall, of course, range ourselves unhesitatingly at the side of the United States….

Hitler and his confederates have for some time past been adjuring and beseeching the populations whom they have wronged and injured to bow to their fate, to resign themselves to their servitude and, for the sake of some mitigation and indulgences, to collaborate--that is the word--in what is called the new order in Europe. What is this new order which they seek to fasten first upon Europe and, if possible--for their ambitions are boundless--upon all the continents of the globe? It is the rule of the Herrenvolk--the master race--who are to put an end to democracy, to parliaments, to the fundamental freedoms and decencies of ordinary men and women, to the historic rights of nations, and give them in exchange the iron rule of Prussia, the universal goose-step and the strict efficient discipline enforced upon the working classes by the political police, with the German concentration camps and firing parties, now so busy in a dozen lands, always handy in the background. There is the new order…. The ordeals… of the conquered peoples will be hard. We must give them hope. We must give them the conviction that their sufferings and their resistances will not be in vain. The tunnel may be dark and long, but at the end there is light. That is the symbolism and that is the message of the Atlantic meeting….

You will, perhaps, have noticed that the President of the United States and the British representative, in what is aptly called the Atlantic Charter, have jointly pledged their countries to the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny. That is a solemn and grave undertaking. It must be made good. It will be made good. And, of course, many practical arrangements to fulfil that purpose have been and are being organized and set in motion….

Three and a half years ago I appealed to my fellow-countrymen to take the lead in weaving together a strong defensive union within the principles of the League of Nations, a union of all the countries who felt themselves in ever-growing danger. But none would listen. All stood idle while Germany rearmed….

I am devoutly thankful that some eyes at least are fully opened to it while time remains. I rejoice to find that the President saw in their true light and proportion the extreme dangers by which the American people, as well as the British people, are now beset. It was indeed by the mercy of God that he began eight years ago that revival of the strength of the American Navy without which the New World today would have to take its orders from the European dictators, but with which the United States still retains the power to marshal her gigantic strength and, in saving herself, render an incomparable service to mankind….

And so we came back across the ocean waves uplifted in spirit, fortified in resolve…. We overtook one of the convoys which carry the munitions and supplies of the New World to Sustain the champions of freedom in the Old. The whole horizon-the whole broad horizon--seemed filled with ships. Seventy or eighty ships of all kinds and sizes, arrayed in fourteen lines, each of which could have been drawn with a ruler, hardly a wisp of smoke, not a straggler, but all bristling with cannon and other precautions on which I will not dwell, and all surrounded by their British escorting vessels, while overhead the far-ranging Catalina airboats soared, vigilant, protecting eagles in the sky.

And then I felt that hard and terrible and long-drawn-out as this struggle may be, we shall not be denied the strength to do our duty to the end.