It may interest the members of this Assembly of the International Student
Service that, during the past week, the Axis radio has given unusual
comment to your sessions and to the speech which you are hearing at
Our listening stations have picked up an increasing volume of Axis
broadcasts, including controlled stations in France, Hungary, the Netherlands
and elsewhere, referring to this meeting of the younger generation from
all the United Nations in terms of growing hate and, of course, complete
falsehood. Our listening stations report that they expect that at this
moment the air in all Axis-dominated nations will be thoroughly jammed-blacked
out-in order that no sound of what I am saying, either in English or
in translation, will be heard by any restless young people who are under
The Nazi radio in Paris, for example, tells the youth of France that
Roosevelt was solely responsible for the defeat of France; that Roosevelt
is not qualified to address a message to the youth of the world because
America is a nation that has done nothing for youth.
Berlin reports that four French youth organizations have protested
in advance against this speech, since Roosevelt must be blamed for the
death of more than one hundred thousand young Frenchmen. Incidentally,
it would be interesting to know how many real Frenchmen there are in
these so-called French Youth Organizations.
A radio in Tokyo says that I am admitting to you at this moment that
my people are decadent-weaklings-playboys- spoiled by jazz music and
Hollywood pictures. Of course, this broadcast did not originate from
any of the Japanese who bumped into our playboys in the Southwest Pacific.
The reason for this hysterically defensive attitude toward this gathering
is not hard to find. For many years they have made their hypocritical
appeal to youth-they have tried, with all their blatant publicity, to
represent themselves as the champions of youth.
But now the world knows that the Nazis, the Fascists and the militarists
of Japan have nothing to offer to youth-except death.
On the other hand, the cause of the United Nations is the cause of
youth itself. It is the hope of the new generation-and the generations
that are to come-hope for a new life that can be lived in freedom, and
justice, and decency.
This fact is becoming clearer every day to the young people of Europe,
where the Nazis are trying to create youth organizations built on the
Nazi pattern. It is not a pattern devised by youth for youth. It is
a pattern devised by Hitler and imposed upon youth by a form of mental
forcible feeding-a diet of false facts, distortions, and prohibitions-all
backed up by the guns of the Gestapo.
If you have any doubt as to what the decent youth of Europe think about
the false promises the Axis masters make to the young people of the
world, look to the brave young men of France and all the occupied countries
who prefer to face the firing squad rather than a lifetime of slavery
and degradation under Hitler.
In such unfortunate countries as Finland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania
and Italy, whose Governments have found it necessary to submit to Hitler
and do his bidding, the Quislings have organized youth movements too
but these are only movements of youth by the tens of thousands to the
slaughter of the Eastern front, where the Nazis need cannon-fodder in
their desperate attempts to shatter the stalwart Russian Army.
In China, heroic youth has stood steadfast for more than five years
against all of Japan's attempts to seduce and disarm them with such
transparent lies as the promise of "Asia for the Asiatics."
For the Chinese know that this only means "All of creation enslaved
by the Japanese."
We exult in the thought that it is the young, free men and women of
the United Nations, and not the wound-up robots of the slave states,
who will mold the shape of the new world.
The delegates to this International Student Assembly represent the
twenty-nine United Nations. They also represent, in spirit at least,
the younger generation of many other nations who, though they are not
now actively at war on our side, are with us heart and soul in aspiration
for a secure and peaceful world.
Before the first World War, very few people in any country believed
that youth had the right to speak for itself as a group or to participate
in councils of State.
We have learned much since then. We know that wisdom does not come
necessarily with years; that old men may be foolish, and young men may
be wise. But in every war, it is the younger generation which bears
the burden of combat and inherits all the ills that war leaves in its
In the economic crises that followed the false prosperity after the
first World War, many young men and women suffered even more than did
their elders. For they were denied the primary opportunities for education,
for training, for work, or even for food enough to build up healthy
bodies. As a result, they were tempted to seek some simple remedy not
only for their own individual problems, but for all the problems that
beset the world. Some listened to alien, siren voices which offered
glib answers to all the questions. "Democracy is dead," said
these voices. "Follow us, and we will teach you efficiency. We
will lead you to world conquest. We will give you power over inferior
races. And all that we ask you to give in return is-your freedom."
Other young people in the democracies listened to gospels of despair.
They took refuge in cynicism and bitterness.
However, the day finally came when all theory had to give way to fact-the
terrible, tangible fact of dive bombers, panzer divisions, the actual
threat to the security of every home and every family in every free
country in the world. And when that fact became clear to our youth they
answered the call to arms-many millions of them; and, today, they are
determined to fight until the forces of aggression have been utterly
What I am saying here in Washington is being heard by several million
American soldiers, sailors and marines, not only within the continental
limits of the United States, but in far distant points-in Central and
South America, in the Islands of the Atlantic, in Britain and Ireland,
on the Coasts of Africa, in Egypt in Iraq and Iran, in Russia, in India,
in China, in Australia, in New Zealand, in many Islands of the Pacific
and on all the seas of the world. There-in all those places-are our
And to them I should like to deliver a special message, from their
Commander-in-Chief, and from the very hearts of their countrymen:
You young Americans today are conducting yourselves in a manner that
is worthy of the highest, proudest traditions of our nation.
No pilgrims who landed on the uncharted New England Coast, no pioneers
who forced their way through the trackless wilderness, showed greater
fortitude, greater determination, than you are showing now.
Neither your own fathers, in 1918, nor your fathers' fathers, in 1863
or 1776, fought with greater gallantry or more selfless devotion to
duty and country than you are now displaying on battlefields far from
And what is more, you know why you are fighting. You know that the
road which has led you to the Solomon Islands, or to the Red Sea, or
to the coast of France, is in fact an extension of Main Street, and
that when you fight, anywhere along that road, you are fighting in the
defense of your own homes, your own free schools, your own churches,
you own ideals.
We here at home are supremely conscious of our obligations to you,
now and in the future. We will not let you down.
We know that in the minds of many of you are thoughts of interrupted
education, interrupted careers, delayed opportunities for getting a
job. The solution of such problems cannot be left, as it was last time,
to mere chance. This Government has accepted the responsibility for
seeing to it that, wherever possible, work has been provided for those
who were willing and able, but who could not find work. That responsibility
will continue after the war. And when you come home, we do not propose
to involve you, as last time, in a domestic economic mess of our own
You are doing first things first-fighting to win this war. For you
know that should this war be lost, all our plans for the peace to follow
would be meaningless.
Victory is essential; but victory is not enough for you-or for us.
We must be sure that when you have won victory, you will not have to
tell your children that you fought in vain-that you were betrayed. We
must be sure that in your homes there will not be want-that in your
schools only the living truth will be taught-that in your churches there
may be preached without fear a faith in which men may deeply believe.
The better world for which you fight-and for which some of you give
your lives-will not come merely because we shall have won the war. It
will not come merely because we wish very hard that it would come. It
will be made possible only by bold vision, intelligent planning and
hard work. It cannot be brought about overnight; but only by years of
effort and perseverance and unfaltering faith.
You young soldiers and sailors, farmers and factory workers, artists
and scholars, who are fighting our way to victory now, all of you will
have to take your part in shaping that world. You will earn it by what
you do now; but you will not attain it if you leave the job for others
to do alone. When you lay aside your gun at the end of the war, you
cannot at the same time lay aside your duty to the future.
What I have said to our American soldiers and sailors applies to all
the young men and women of the United Nations who are facing our common
enemies. There is a complete unanimity of spirit among all the youth
of all kinds and kindreds who fight to preserve or to regain their freedom.
In Norway and Holland, Belgium and France, Czechoslovakia and Poland,
Serbia and Greece, there is a fighting spirit that defies the harsh
oppression, the barbarous cruelty and terrorism of the Nazis. Although
disarmed, the unconquerable people still strike at their oppressors.
Although forbidden to know the truth, they listen at the risk of their
lives to radio broadcasts from afar; and, by word of mouth and by secret
newspaper passed from one patriot to another, they still spread the
truth. When the time comes for these peoples to rise, Hitler's New Order
will be destroyed by the hands of its own victims.
Today the embattled youth of Russia and China are realizing a new individual
dignity, casting off the last links of the ancient chains of imperial
despotism which had bound them so long.
This is a development of historic importance. It means that the old
term, "Western Civilization," no longer applies. World events
and the common needs of all humanity are joining the culture of Asia
with the culture of Europe and of the Americas to form, for the first
time, a real world civilization.
In the concept of the Four Freedoms, in the basic principles of the
Atlantic Charter, we have set for ourselves high goals, unlimited objectives.
These concepts and these principles are designed to form a world in
which men, women and children can live in freedom and in equity and,
above all, without fear of the horrors of war. For no soldiers or sailors,
in any of our forces today, would so willingly endure the rigors of
battle if they thought that in another twenty years their own sons would
be fighting still another war on distant deserts or seas or in far-away
jungles or skies.
We have profited by our past mistakes. This time we shall know how
to make full use of victory. This time the achievements of our fighting
forces will not be thrown away by political cynicism and timidity and
There is still a handful of men and women, in the United States and
elsewhere, who mock and sneer at the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic
Charter. They are few in number; but some of them have the financial
power to give our enemies the false impression that they have a large
following among our citizenry. They play petty politics in a world crisis.
They fiddle with many sour notes while civilization burns. These puny
prophets decry our determination to implement our high concepts and
sound principles. And the words of these little men of little faith
are quoted with gleeful approval by the press and radio of our enemies.
We are deeply aware that we cannot achieve our goals easily. We cannot
attain the fullness of all our ideals overnight. We know that this is
to be a long and hard and bitter fight-and that there will still be
an enormous job for us to do long after the last German, Japanese and
Italian bombing planes have been shot to earth.
But we do believe that, with divine guidance, we can make-in this dark
world of today, and in the new post-war world-a steady progress toward
the highest goals that men have ever imagined.
We of the United Nations have the technical means, the physical resources,
and, most of all, the adventurous courage and the vision and the will
that are needed to build and sustain the kind of world order which alone
can justify the tremendous sacrifices now being made by our youth.
But we must keep at it-we must never relax, never falter, never fear-and
we must keep at it together.
We must maintain the offensive against evil in all its forms. We must
work and we must fight to ensure that our children shall have and shall
enjoy in peace their inalienable rights to freedom of speech, freedom
of religion, freedom from want, freedom from fear.
Only on those bold terms can this total war result in total victory.