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Congress & the Middle East: Speech from King George II of Greece on War in Europe

(June 15, 1942)

The following is the full text of the address delivered by King George II of the Hellenes before the Congress of the United States in Washington, on June 15, 1942.

I am proud to be in your midst and to bring you the greetings of fighting Greece.

By your side, by the side of Great Britain and of the other United Nations of free men, I continue and shall continue no matter what the hardships, whatever the cost-the struggle for the liberation of Greece-a nation which over a span of 5,000 years survived vicissitudes and force, and which today is much less disposed than ever to surrender its great heritage of civilization and languish a prisoner to the powers of darkness and of evil.

When we took up arms first against the Italians and then against the Germans, we knew very well what misfortunes awaited our country and how difficult it was for our friends immediately to come to our assistance. France then lay prostrate and most of the smaller nations of Europe, one after another, had bowed to the might of the invader. But no Greek doubted for an instant where his honor lay. With the help of God and knowing that every Greek was ready and willing to die in defense of his freedom and his honor, I assumed the responsibility to History and to the Greek people to lead them forward in the full performance of their duty. At one of the most critical cross-roads of human history, when the fate of civilization hung in the balance, Greece proved by its stand that no price was too high to pay for human freedom and international decency.

Fortunately the sacrifices of my country were not in vain. Due to the resistance of the Greek people in Continental Greece and in Crete, seven precious months were gained at a most crucial stage of the war, and the plans of the invader went awry. The Greek victories in Albania shattered irretrievably Italy's prestige and our resistance to Germany saved precious time for other fronts.

In this struggle Greece is proud to find itself a second time within a quarter of a century by the side of the powerful and generous American democracy. In the United States my country always has found support and sympathetic understanding. The valuable aid which you have given us during this war will never be forgotten. The initiative which you took along with Great Britain, to bring relief to the starving people of Greece, is a tribute to your civilization, which is characterized by a Christian spirit of helpfulness. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I know that the people of the United States by long and arduous effort have earned the right to be and are a living example of the best in contemporary civilization, and that they are inspired by those nobler feelings and ideals which distinguish civilized man from the barbarian. Your prosperous democracy by long and persistent application has utilized for the benefit of the working masses the numerous technological means which human intellect today contributes to civilization, and has given us tangible proof of fairness and of justice.

You have not employed the power of your great country to attack weaker nations. You have given an example of self-restraint shown how a most powerful country can impose justice upon itself first, so that it may rightly exact it of others. The great ideals with which the United States today inspires the peoples of the world will contribute not only to the happier conclusions of the current war, but will provide the foundations of the happier and more harmonious life after the war, which humanity expects.

Decency and justice must govern relations between people in the post-war world, which must not be left a prey to vandalism a further time. In order to achieve this result the machinery of international cooperation must be strengthened so as to utilize, in order under law, the tremendous resources of peace loving peoples. The economic life of the nations must be reorganized in a manner which shall secure to all the well-being to which the plain men and women of the world are entitled.

Above all else it is vital that those who have fought the battle of right be secured against invasion, and the wrongdoers-including those who either for ulterior motives or simply because of weakness permitted themselves to become tools of the Axis-be impressed that predatory policies do not pay. The preservation of freedom is not the obligation of any single people in any one part of the world; it is an obligation of all peace loving peoples throughout the world. This simple truth is the base-rock of international understanding and the cornerstone for cooperation between free men in the world to come.

Greece with its limited resources is wholeheartedly at the service of these ideals. Today when more than ever victory is clearly discernible on the flaming horizon, she is determined to contribute whatever she can toward that victory. Knowing the boundless resources which the American people are placing in motion for the common effort I feel duty bound to speak with great modesty of my country's contribution to the same cause. However small that contribution may appear to be, in contrast with what you are doing, it is everything we have. With all our free fighting men who have survived, with all our ships which have not been sunk, we will fight on land, we will fight on sea, and we will fight in the air, to the very end, by your side and by the side of the other United Nations, until barbaric violence is put down and a new world is established-a world for free men, not for slaves.

Sources: ibiblio