Words and Speeches of WW2, 1939 to Remember (6)

A select record from week to week of important war declarations and statements

Thursday September 21st
President Roosevelt in an address to Congress appealing for the lifting to the Arms Embargo contained in the Neutrality Statement

For many years the primary purpose of our foreign policy has been that this nation and this Government should strive to the utmost to aid in avoiding war among nations, but if and when war unhappily comes the Government and the nation must exert every possible effort to avoid being drawn into war. There has been sufficient realism in the United States to see how close to our own shoes came the dangerous paths which were being followed on other continents. Last January I told Congress that a war which threatened to envelop the world in flames had been averted, but it has become increasingly clear that peace is not assured. And last January also I spoke to this Congress of the need for further warning of new threats of conquest, military and economic, a challenge to religion, to democracy, and to international good faith. I also said: “we have learned that when we deliberately try to legislate neutrality our neutrality may operate unevenly and unfairly, may actually give aid to an argument and deny it to the victim.” The instinct of self-preservation should warn us not to let that happen any more. And it was because of what I foresaw last January from watching the trend of foreign affairs and their probably effect upon us that I recommended to Congress in July of this year that changed be enacted in our neutrality laws. The essentials for American peace. American peace in this war-torn world, have not changed since last January or last July, and that is why I ask you again to re-examine our own legislation. The embargo provisions as they exist today prevent the sale to a belligerent by an American factory of any completed instruments of war, but they allow the sale of many types of uncompleted implements of war as well as all kinds of general material and supplies. They furthermore allow such products of industry and agriculture to be taken in American flagships to belligerent nations. There in itself under the present law lies definite danger to our neutrality and our peace. I seek a greater consistency through the repeal of the embargo provisions and a return to normal law. I seek the re-enactment of the historical and traditional American policy which, except for the disastrous interlude of the embargo and non-intercourse laws more than a century and a quarter ago, has served us well from the very beginning of our constitutional existence. It has been erroneously said that a return to that policy might bring us nearer to war. I give to you my deep and unalterable conviction based on years of experience as a worker in the field of international peace that by the repeal of the embargo the United States will more probably remain at peace than if the law remains as it stands today.

Sunday September 12th
Translation from a further Leaflet dropped by the RAF over Germany:

To the German People:

Germans note that in spite of German blood which has been shed in the Polish war:

  1. Your Government’s hopes of successful lightning war has been destroyed by the British War Cabinet’s decision to prepare for a three years’ war.
  2. The French army crossed the frontier into Germany on Sept 6th, or four days before German official sources admitted it. In the West, British troops are already standing shoulder to shoulder with their French allies.
  3. The British and French Fleets have swept German merchant shipping from the oceans. Therefore, your supplies of a whole essential war materials, such as petrol, copper, nickel, rubber, cotton, wool and fats are almost gone.  You can no longer rely, as you did in the last war, upon neutral supplies because your Government cannot pay for them.
  4. Night after night the British Air Force has demonstrated its power by flights far into Germany territory.

Germans Note!

Tuesday September 26th
M. Milan Harming, Slovak Consul in London, in a communication to the Foreign Office:
The whole of Slovakia is occupied by Nazi armed forces. The value of the Slovak people has been temporarily silenced by the ruthless abrogation of all treaties and agreements.
In the name of Slovakia, I solemnly protest against this shameful betrayal, and declare that the aims and ideals of Great Britain and France are identified with those of my sorely tried people.

Mr Wickham Steed in a letter to ‘The Times’
As the war goes on our own people and the people of France may need an ideal more positive and sustaining thath “the destruction of Hitlerism”. Today we are not so much allies as united. In this union lies our strength, for Great Britain is now, irrevocably, part of Europe. The ‘Oslo’ neutrals are striving towards closer co-operation if not actual union. Is it ‘Utopian’ to see in these things the beginnings of a movement towards a greater unity in which unlimited national sovereignties will be subordinates to common needs? If not this war should help to foster the international solidarity to withstanding war and creating peace that may, one day, give the German people a chance to enter, as equals, a union of nations democratically self-governed and banded together, not only against lawless violence but for the mutual helpfulness which is peace.
I submit that British policy should aim at these things. To frame and to proclaim such a policy would be the most powerful propaganda.

Thursday September 28th
Declaration of Soviet and Germany Governments accompanying the Articles of Agreement comprised in the Soviet-German pact:
The German Government and the Government of the USSR by the treaty signed today, have finally settled questions that arose as a result of the dissolution of the Polish State, and having thereby created a firm foundation for a lasting peace in Eastern Europe, in mutual agreement express the onion that the liquidation of the present war between Germany on the one hand and Great Britain on the other [sic] is in the interest of all nations.
Therefore both Governments will direct their common efforts, if necessary in accord with other friendly Powers in order to attain this aim as early as possible.
If, however, these efforts of both Governments remain futile, it will be established thereby that Great Britain and France bear the responsibility for the continuation of war, and in the event of continuation of the war the Governments of Germany and the U.S.S.R. will consult each other on the necessary measures.

Saturday September 30th
M. Raczynski, Polish Ambassador, in a Note to the British Government:
I raise in the name of the Polish Government the most formal and most solemn protest against the plot hatched between Berlin and Moscow in disregard of all international obligations and of all principles of morality.
Poland shall never recognize the act of violence, and, fortified by the justice of her case, she shall never cease to struggle until her territories have been liberated from the invaders and her legitimate rights fully re-established.

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