Words & Speeches during WW2, November 1939

Words That History Will Remember

Tuesday November 13th, 1939
M. Paul Reynauld, French Minister of Finance, in a broadcast:
Returning two years ago from a visit to Germany. I said to my fellow countrymen: “Hurry up and arm. You have already entered the bloodless period of the war”. And now we are at war. And again I say, our enemy is formidable. He is making frantic preparation. Time will be on our side it we use it. We must make freely an effort superior to that imposed by force on the German people. our enemy is convinced that democratic peoples will not submit to such great sacrifices as they themselves. In that they are mistaken. After a few hours spend in this country I am impressed by the unanimous determination of the British people to conquer and to obtain at last the peace which will be really peace. the people of the country are as individualistic as our own, and still they have outrageously accepted the discipline which is necessary in time of war. Industry has adapted itself to the necessity of arming the nation. To increase production the workers have agreed tot he relaxation of the rules of the Trade Unions. The sacrifice the taxation demanded is without precedent. All these things bear witness to the determination of the British people.

Now you will ask, what about the French people? Imagine a country in which one in every eight inhabitants is in the army; a country in which women have replaced men in the factories and the fields. Nearly all the horses and the lorries have been commandeered. Very often there remains in a village only one horse, which is used by all in turn. The women whose husbands have left for the front guide the plough….
Everyone has bravely faced the disaster. Our magnificent working-class is working sixty hours a week and more, and they are not only working overtime, but they are giving up 40% of their overtime pay. In addition to this, those under forty-nine who, by their age, are eligible for the army, are paying another 15% of their salaries. Beside this, food restrictions have already started. Not only have the French people accepted these sacrifices with courage, but in spite of all this difficulty the financial recovery has not been interrupted. The rich continue to bring their money back into their country, for there are today greater gold and foreign exchange reserves than at the beginning of the war. The poor are making their money available to the country by increasing their savings in the banks. Everyone in France is confident in his country…..

Tuesday, November 21st
Mr Chamberlain in the House of Commons:
The House will be aware that during the last three days upwards of ten ships, six of which were neutral, were sunk, with a serious loss of life, by German mines.
The Hague Convention, to which Germany is a party and which she announced her intention of observing as recently as September 17th last, provides that when anchored mines are used every possible precaution must be taken for the security of peaceful navigation. this is the very essence of the convention, as the mines cannot discriminate between warship and merchant ship or between belligerent and neutral. the convention particularly required that the danger zone must be notified, as soon as military exigencies pursuit, once the mines cease to be under the observation of those who laid them. None of these provisions has been observed by the German Government in laying mines which caused the losses I have mentioned, and this fresh outrage is only the culmination of as series of violations of the agreements to which German has et her hand.
I need only recall the sinking of the Athenia with the loss of 112 lives and subsequently the destruction of British Allied and neutral vessels by mine, torpedo or gunfire. These attacks have been made often without warning and to an interesting extent with complete disregard of the rules laid down in the Submarine Protocol to which Germany subscribed or of the most elementary dictates of humanity.
His Majesty’s Government are not prepared to allow these methods of conducting warfare to continue without retaliation. I may remind the House that in the last war, as a measure of justified reprisal for submarine attacks on merchant ships, exports of German origin or ownership were made subjects to seizure on the High Seas.
The many violations of international law and the ruthless brutality of German methods have decided us to follow a similar now, and Order in Council will shortly be issued giving effect to this decision.

Wednesday November 22nd
Sir John Simon, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a broadcast:
Paying for the war is the business of every one of us. This is the most expensive war ever fought. It is already costing this country at least £6,000,000 a day…..We must all save every penny we are possibly can, in order that we may have it to lend. Everyone who spends unnecessarily on himself is making it more difficult to carry on the war. If a man saves all he can and lends it to the Government he is not only making a useful provision for himself, but is himself helping to fight the war and hastening the day of victory….
There is another reason why everybody should limit their spending and instead save all they can. The Government is bound to spend vast sums on supplies for carrying on the war, and there cannot be at the same time the same plentiful supplies for the people to spend their money on as in peacetime. Productive power, which would in peacetime be diverted to war production. In wartime our imports from abroad have to be cut down. There is inevitably a reduction in the supplied o some thing sto which we have become accustomed. There is, therefore, a special need for restraint in outlay, for if supplies are restricted and at the same time the public, instead of saving, tries to buy as much as or more than in peacetime, all this helps to raise prices unnecessarily.
You have been reading in your newspapers today of this lest abomination of German savagery – the magnetic mine secretly deposited in the channels of the sea in order to blow up without warning neutral and British shipping alike; and to destroy innocent lives – women, children and unmarried men – in breach of rules of war which Germany only two months ago had expressly promised to obey. Not even the inventiveness of Herr Goebbels can suggest that these sinkings have been contrived by the perverse ingenuity of Mr Churchill to order to throw the blame on Germany! By this ruthless brutality the enemy hopes to sap the strength of our island fortress and to cut off our supplies. Meanwhile, the brave crews of our mine sweepers are risking danger for their country’s sake, our incomparable Navy is on the watch, the Air Force keeps ceaseless vigil, the Mercantile Marine continues its perpetual services, devoted to meeting the new danger. We are confident that their efforts, will be successful. Everyone can do his utmost to strengthen and support the country by saving all he can and putting his savings at the service of Britain.

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