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.
Exactly where we met is a secret, but I don't think I shall be indiscreet
if I go so far as to say that it was somewhere in the Atlantic. In a
spacious, land-locked bay which reminded me of the west coast of Scotland,
powerful American warships, protected by strong flotillas and far-ranging
aircraft, awaited our arrival and, as it were, stretched out a hand
to help us in.
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
President Roosevelt is the thrice-chosen head of the most powerful
State and community in the world. I am the servant of King and Parliament,
at present charged with the principal direction of our affairs in these
fateful times. And it is my duty also to make sure, as I have made sure,
that anything I say or do in the exercise of my office is approved and
sustained by the whole British Commonwealth of Nations. Therefore this
meeting was bound to be important because of the enormous forces, at
present only partially mobilized, but steadily mobilizing, which are
at the disposal of these two major groupings of the human family, the
British Empire and the United States, who, fortunately for the progress
of mankind, happen to speak the same language and very largely think
the same thoughts, or anyhow, think a lot of the same thoughts.
The meeting was, therefore, symbolic. That is its prime importance.
It 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.
When one beholds how many currents of extraordinary and terrible events
have flowed together to make this harmony, even the most sceptical person
must have the feeling that we all have the chance to play our part and
do our duty in some great design, the end of which no mortal can foresee.
Awful and horrible things I have seen in these days.
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, before
which the rights, the traditions, the characteristics and the structure
of many ancient, honoured States and peoples have been laid prostrate
and are now ground down under the heel and terror of a monster.
The Austrians, the Czechs, the Poles, the Norwegians, the Danes, the
Belgians, the Dutch, the Greeks, the Croats and the Serbs, above all
the great French nation, have been stunned and pinioned. Italy, Hungary,
Rumania, Bulgaria--have bought a shameful respite by becoming the jackals
of the tiger. But their situation is very little different and will
presently be indistinguishable from that of his victims. Sweden, Spain
and Turkey stand appalled, wondering which will be struck down next.
Here then is the vast pit into which all the most famous States and
races of Europe have been flung and from which, unaided, they can never
But all this did not satiate Adolf
Hitler. He made a treaty of non-aggression with Soviet Russia, just
as he made one with Turkey, in order to keep them quiet until he was
ready to attack them. And then, nine weeks ago today, without a vestige
of provocation, he 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.
This frightful business is now unfolding day by day before our eyes.
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. Let Russia be blotted out. Let Russia
be destroyed. Order the armies to advance. Such were his decrees. Accordingly,
from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea, six or seven millions of soldiers
are locked in mortal struggle.
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. The tremendous battle rages along
nearly two thousand miles of front. The Russians fight with magnificent
devotion. Not only that, our generals who have visited the Russian front
line report with admiration the efficiency of their military organization
and the excellence of their equipment. The aggressor is surprised, startled,
staggered. 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
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.
Japanese armies have been wandering about that vast land in futile excursions,
carrying with them carnage, ruin and corruption, and calling it "the
Chinese incident." Now, they stretch a grasping hand into the southern
seas of China. They snatch Indo-China from the wretched Vichy French.
They menace by their movements Siam, menace Singapore, the British link
with Australasia, and menace the Philippine Islands under the protection
of the United States.
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.
And thus we come back to the quiet bay, somewhere in the Atlantic,
where misty sunshine plays on great ships which carry the White Ensign
or the Stars and Stripes.
We had the idea when we met there, the President and I, that without
attempting to draw final and formal peace aims, or war aims, it was
necessary to give all peoples, and especially the oppressed and conquered
peoples, a simple, rough-and-ready wartime statement of the goal towards
which the British Commonwealth and the United States mean to make their
way, and thus make a way for others to march with them on a road which
will certainly be painful and may be long.
There are, however, two distinct and marked differences in this joint
declaration from the attitude adopted by the Allies during the latter
part of the last war, and no one should overlook them. The United States
and Great Britain do not now assume that there will never be any more
war again. On the contrary, we intend to take ample precaution to prevent
its renewal in any period we can foresee by effectively disarming the
guilty nations while remaining suitably protected ourselves. The second
difference is this: that instead of trying to ruin German trade by all
kinds of additional trade barriers and hindrances, as was the mood of
1917, we have definitely adopted the view that it is not in the interests
of the world and of our two countries that any large nation should be
unprosperous or shut out from the means of making a decent living for
itself and its people by its industry and enterprise.
These are far-reaching changes of principle upon which all countries
should ponder. Above all, it was necessary to give hope and the assurance
of final victory to those many scores of millions of men and women who
are battling for life and freedom or who are already bent down under
the Nazi yoke.
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.
Napoleon in his glory and genius spread his empire far and wide. There
was a time when only the snows of Russia and the white cliffs of Dover
with their guardian fleets stood between him and the dominion of the
world. Napoleon's armies had a theme. They carried with them the surges
of the French Revolution--Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. That was
the cry. There was a sweeping away of outworn, medieval systems and
aristocratic privilege. There was the land for the people, a new code
of law. Nevertheless, Napoleon's empire vanished like a dream.
But Hitler--Hitler has no theme, naught but mania, appetite and exploitation.
He has, however, weapons and machinery for grinding down and for holding
down conquered countries which are the product, the sadly perverted
product, of modern science.
The ordeals, therefore, 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.
Do not despair, brave Norwegians; your land shall be cleansed not only
from the invader but from the filthy Quislings who are his tools.
Be strong in your souls, Czechs; your independence shall be restored.
Poles, the heroism of your people, standing up to cruel oppressors,
the courage of your soldiers, sailors and airmen shall not be forgotten.
Your country shall live again and resume its rightful part in the new
organization of Europe.
Lift up your heads, gallant Frenchmen. Not all the infamies of Darlan
and of Laval shall stand between you and the restoration of your birthright.
Stout-hearted Dutch, Belgians, Luxembourgers, tormented, mishandled,
shamefully cast away peoples of Yugoslavia, glorious Greece, now subjected
to the crowning insult of the rule of the Italian jackanapes, yield
not an inch. Keep your souls clean from all contact with the Nazis.
Make them feel even in their fleeting hour of brutish triumph that they
are the moral outcasts of mankind. Help is coming. Mighty forces are
arming in your behalf. Have faith, have hope, deliverance is sure.
There is the signal which we have flashed across the waters, and if
it reaches the hearts of those to whom it is sent they will endure with
fortitude and tenacity their present misfortune in the sure faith that
they, too, are still serving the common cause and that our efforts will
not be in vain.
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
The question has been asked: "How near is the United States to
war?" There is certainly one man who knows the answer to that question.
If Hitler has not yet declared war upon the United States it is surely
not out of his love for American institutions. It is certainly not because
he could not find a pretext. He has murdered half a dozen countries
for far less. Fear, fear of immediately redoubling the tremendous energies
now being employed against him, is no doubt the restraining influence.
But the real reason is, I am sure, to be found in the method to which
he has so faithfully adhered and by which he has gained so much.
What is that method? It is a very simple method. One by one--that is
his plan. That is his guiding rule. That is the trick by which he has
enslaved so large a portion of the world.
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
Czecho-Slovakia was subjugated. A French Government deserted their
faithful ally and broke a plighted word in that ally's hour of need.
Russia was cajoled and deceived into a kind of neutrality or partnership
while the French Army was being annihilated. The Low Countries and the
Scandinavian countries acting with France and Great Britain in good
time even after the war had begun, might have altered its course and
would have had at any rate a fighting chance. The Balkan States had
only to stand together to save themselves from the ruin by which they
are now engulfed. But one by one they were undermined and overwhelmed.
Never was the career of crime made more smooth.
Now Hitler is striking at Russia with all his might, well knowing the
difficulties of geography which stand between Russia and the aid which
the Western democracies are trying to bring. We shall strive our utmost
to overcome all difficulties and to bring this aid. We have arranged
for a conference in Moscow between the United States, British and Russian
authorities to settle the whole plan. No barrier must stand in the way.
But why is Hitler striking at Russia and inflicting this suffering on
himself, or rather making his soldiers suffer this frightful slaughter?
It is with the declared object of turning his whole force upon the British
Islands and, if he can succeed in beating the life and strength out
of us, which is not so easy, then is the moment when he will settle
his account, and it is already a long one, with the people of the United
States and generally with the Western Hemisphere.
One by one--there is the process. There is the simple dismal plan which
has served Hitler so well. It needs but one final successful application
to make him the master of the world.
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.
We had a church parade on the Sunday in our Atlantic bay. The President
came on to the quarterdeck of the Prince of Wales where there were mingled
together many hundreds of American and British sailors and marines.
The sun shone bright and warm while we all sang the old hymns which
are our common inheritance and which we learned as children in our homes.
We sang the hymn founded on the psalm which John Hampden's soldiers
sang when they bore his body to the grave and in which the brief precarious
span of human life is contrasted with the immutability of Him to whom
a thousand ages past are but as yesterday and as a watch that is past
in the night. We sang the sailors' hymn "For Those in Peril,"
and there are very many in peril on the sea. We sang "Onward, Christian
Soldiers," and indeed I felt that this was no vain presumption,
but that we had the right to feel that we were serving a cause for the
sake of which a trumpet has sounded from on high.
When I looked upon that densely packed congregation of the fighting
men of the same language, of the same faith, of the same fundamental
laws, of the same ideals and to a large extent of the same interests
and certainly in different degrees facing the same dangers, it swept
across me that here was the only hope, but also the sure hope, of saving
the world from merciless degradation.
And so we came back across the ocean waves uplifted in spirit, fortified
in resolve. Some American destroyers, which were carrying mails to the
United States marines in Iceland, happened to be going the same way
too, so we made a goodly company at sea together.
And when we were right out in mid-passage one afternoon a noble sight
broke on the view. 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.