Words & Speeches During WW2, November 1939

Thursday, November 9th, 1939

Mr Chamberlain in a speech read at the Mansion House luncheon:
“I should like to make a few observations upon this strangest of wars which, in the form in which it has hitherto been waged, must seem to many who remember the 1914-1918 conflict to be no war at all, but rather a sort of siege.
We do not know how long this phase will last or whether at any moment it may not be changed into violent conflict. But we can see at any rate that the position of the Allied has, as the works have gone by, rather strengthened that deteriorated.

The treaty we and our French allies have concluded with Turkey will be a powerful instrument for the peace of South-Eastern Europe. On the other hand the pact between German and the Soviet union has gained, indeed, great advantages for the Soviet, but has brought only humiliation and loss for Germany.
The repeal of Neutrality Act in the SA is a mementoes event, for while it affords America the means of maintaining her neutrality it re-opens for the Allies the doors of the greatest storehouse of supplies in the world.
We may be thankful that our successes in hunting down the submarines, and in numerous conflicts in the air, have as yet been unclouded by the terrible causality lists that were only too familiar to use in the last great wear. And we may be proud of the fact that British Expeditionary Force has been transported to France without the loss of the a single man or a single piece of equipment.
One thing that stand out before everything in these first weeks of war is the essential and fundamental unity of our people…..

Friday, November 10th
Sir Neville Henderson, in a speech at the Press Club, London
…….My mission ended in a tragic failure, and I think probably it could not have ended in any other way. The ambitions and appetites of a dictator grow as the need for dictatorship diminishes and as the fear of a dictator and of his small extremist minority – the fear of losing their power – becomes more pressing. In the end of megalomania of one man defeated the Prime Minister and defeated me also. You can leave the verdict to history.
I have a very vast respect for the power and influence of the British Press, a very deep appreciation of the absolute necessity for its complete freedom, but also a certain apprehension as to the users to which it may put it’s great power. In spite of all the bitterness of failure I still assert that the Nazi case at its beginning has a certain measure of justification and that the two-sweeping condemnation in England of everything to do with it was not fair. Some people say that there is no distinction between Nazism and Germans. That I submit is standpoint of despair. This was will have been fought in vain if at the end of it we have not helped to teach the German people themselves that distinction. Hitler himself was the mere creation of a general feeling – felt by every German – against the injustice of Versailles.

It was at least a reasonable view – it was one I held when I went out there – that Nazism could only be destroyed from within, and that the legitimate German grievances has to be eliminated before the German people themselves could eliminate the hateful features of Nazism. I still believe that is the correct standpoint. Had Hitler stopped at Munich, co-operation even with Hitler might still have been possible. German for Germany was a perfectly comprehensible view, and a not unworthy conception.
There is only one way in my humble opinion to look upon the war, and that is as a crusade – a crusade based on the ideals of the British Commonwealth of nations undertaken in order to vindicate the highest principles of humanity, to ensure that brute force shall not the prime and ultimate arbiter in international affairs, and to see that aggression does not pay and that aggression will not pay in the future.
What I would like to say this afternoon is that, in my opinion the responsibly of the press in this hateful war is every bit as great as this power, and may perhaps be even still greater when the blessed hour of peace comes. Germany may be incorrigible, but she certainly be incorrigible if the British Press does pay its responsible part in helping the British people – and after all, it is the British people which ultimately directs British policy – both to see that this war is fought and won and to see that the ensuing peace in the interests of future generations is negotiated and won in accordance with the highest principles of morality and fair play. I am not sure that the second will not be the more difficult victory of the two, and I am quite sure that we will not negotiate it if the British Press does not largely contribute. We are crusaders, and we have got to prove that we are worthy of victory.
We have got to make adjustments. We must end the war in such a way that the only grievances which the German have are against their own rulers, against their leader, and against the system which has again brought them to defeat. The problem thereafter will be to see whether Germany can ever be brought to the same standard of civilisation as we are fighting for today. If the peace has been a just one we can safely leave that to the coming generation…..
There has been a lot of talk about war aims. It seems to me that one of our war aim should be that at the end of this war there should be no hatred left on either side. The British Press in my opinion can render a supreme service to the coming generation, to civilisation, and to the world if it can think for the British people in terms which are purely moral and fair-minded, to the exclusion of fear, hatred, and prejudice.

Sunday, November 12
Reply to King George to the peace appeal of Queen Wilhelmina and King Leopold:
…….My Government deeply appreciate the spirit of your Majesties’ offer and they would always be willing to examine a reasonable and assured basis for an equitable peace.
It is, as it has always been, my desire that the war should not last one day longer than is absolutely necessary, and I can therefore at once reply to that part of your Majesties’ appeal in which you state your willingness to facilitate the ascertaining of the elements of an agreement to tbe reached.
The essential conditions upon which we are determined that an honourable peace must be secured have already been plainly stated.
The documents which have been published since the beginning of the war clearly explain its origin and establish the responsibility for its outbreak. My peoples took up arms only after every effort had been made to save peace.
The immediate occasion leading to our decision to enter the war was Germany’s aggression against Poland, but this aggression was only a fresh instance of German policy towards her neighbours.
the larger purposes for which my peoples are now fighting are to secure that Europe may be redeemed in the words of my Prime Minister in the United Kingdom, “from perpetually recurring fear of German aggression so as to enable the peoples of Europe to preserve their independence and their liberties,” and to prevent for the future, resort to force instead of to pacific means in settlement of international dispute…..
Should your Majesties be able to communicate to me any proposals from Germany of such a character as to afford real prospect of achieving the purpose I have described above, I can say at once that my Governments would give them their most earnest consideration.

Monday, November 13th
Jonkheer de Geer, Prime Minister of Holland, in a broadcast:
We mobilized in September this year, not because we distrusted our neighbours, but because it was our duty to be prepared for any emergency. It was our duty towards those who want to respect our neutrality and who has less confidence in the pledges of their enemies that we had. Our mobilisation means protection for all; but if it is to remain a protection it has to keep pace with changing conditions. We must never allow the impression to be created abroad that our mobilisation is only symbolic; others as well as ourselves should be convinced that it is effective. Therefore its intensity has to be changed in accordance with the tension near our frontier.
This is the meaning of the measures recently taken. I hope that these words may restore the peace of mid of those who have been showing signs of nervousness. We should thank God for the blessings he has vouchsafed us until now and we should consider it our duty to promote peace and thus to serve others. Every neutral nation is a light in the darkness which has fallen upon Europe; our neutrality is therefore a matter of high importance, and of it’s maintenance we have not the right to despair to dominate our spirit. We do our duty leaving the decision to God. However high the waves may come we know that our Father is at the helm and our spirits are quiet and cheerful.

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