Winston Churchill's 11/16/1934 Speech About The Threat Of Nazi Germany


Many people think that the best way to escape war is to dwell upon its horrors and to imprint them vividly upon the minds of the younger generation. They flaunt the grisly photograph before their eyes. They fill their ears with tales of carnage. They dilate upon the ineptitude of generals and admirals. They denounce the crime as insensate folly of human strife. Now, all this teaching ought to be very useful in preventing us from attacking or invading any other country, if anyone outside a madhouse wished to do so, but how would it help us if we were attacked or invaded ourselves that is the question we have to ask.

Would the invaders consent to hear Lord Beaverbrook's exposition, or listen to the impassioned appeals of Mr. Lloyd George? Would they agree to meet that famous South African, General Smuts, and have their inferiority complex removed in friendly, reasonable debate? I doubt it. I have borne responsibility for the safety of this country in grievous times. I gravely doubt it.

But even if they did, I am not so sure we should convince them, and persuade them to go back quietly home. They might say, it seems to me, "you are rich; we are poor. You seem well fed; we are hungry. You have been victorious; we have been defeated. You have valuable colonies; we have none. You have your navy; where is ours? You have had the past; let us have the future." Above all, I fear they would say, "you are weak and we are strong."

After all, my friends, only a few hours away by air there dwell a nation of nearly seventy millions of the most educated, industrious, scientific, disciplined people in the world, who are being taught from childhood to think of war as a glorious exercise and death in battle as the noblest fate for man.

There is a nation which has abandoned all its liberties in order to augment its collective strength. There is a nation which, with all its strength and virtue, is in the grip of a group of ruthless men, preaching a gospel of intolerance and racial pride, unrestrained by law, by parliament, or by public opinion. In that country all pacifist speeches, all morbid war books are forbidden or suppressed, and their authors rigorously imprisoned. From their new table of commandments they have omitted "thou shall not kill."

It is but twenty years since these neighbours of ours fought almost the whole world, and almost defeated them. Now they are rearming with the utmost speed, and ready to their hands is the new lamentable weapon of the air, against which our navy is -no defence, and before which women and children, the weak and frail, the pacifist and the jingo, the warrior and the civilian, the front line trenches and the cottage home, all lie in equal and impartial peril.

Nay, worse still, for with the new weapon has come a new method, or rather has come back the most British method of ancient barbarism, namely, the possibility of compelling the submission of nations by terrorizing their civil population; and, worst of all, the more civilized the country is, the larger and more splendid its cities, the more intricate the structure of its civil and economic life, the more is it vulnerable and at the mercy of those who may make it their prey.

Now, these are facts, hard, grim, indisputable facts, and in the face of these facts, I ask again, what are we to do?

ENG 10-2: Speeches from the Second World War

Winston Churchill's Speech

Mr. Steel


1. Who was Winston Churchill? Who was his audience for this speech?



2. What is Churchill's view on avoiding war? How do most of the population and politicians in England feel about avoiding war?




3. What is Churchill's criticism of his opponents in the first paragraph who try to persuade the British people against going to war?






4. In the second paragraph, does Churchill think that Hitler's Germany is a force with which England might reason or argue logically? Explain.






5. In the third paragraph, what reasons does he think that Hitler would give for attacking England? Name some. What might be their most fearsome reason if England avoided war, in Churchill's view?


6. How does Churchill portray Germany? Is there freedom in Germany? Who controls Germany? What is dangerous about Germany?










7. What does Hitler see as the most "barbaric" of Hitler's methods?





8. What is Churchill trying to persuade the English people to do?





9. Examine Churchill's speech using the following chart:





















10. Martin Luther King's speech argued for non-violent resistance in order to change society. Malcolm X's speech argued for violent revolution. Chamberlain's war speech argued for avoiding war at all costs. Churchill's speech, by contrast, argues for joining the fight. When is violence an appropriate response to injustice? How, for instance, could violence be wrong in one situation, but correct in another?