Great Britain Shall Go Forward


By LORD HALIFAX, Foreign Secretary of Great Britain

Radio Address made July 22, 1940, from London

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 625-626.

MANY of you will have read two days ago the speech in which Herr Hitler summoned Great Britain to capitulate to his will. I will not waste your time by dealing with his distortions of almost every main event since the war began.

He says he has no desire to destroy the British Empire, but there was in his speech no suggestion that peace must be based on justice, no word of recognition that the other nations of Europe had any right to self-determination, the principle which he has so often invoked for Germans.

His only appeal was to the base instinct of fear, and his only arguments were threats.

His silence as to the future of nations whom on one false pretext or another he has subjugated is significant.

Quite plainly, unless the greater part of the world has entirely misread his speech, his picture of Europe is one ofGermany lording it over these peoples, whom he has one by one deprived of freedom. Our picture, drawn once again in bold outline by the President of the United States and General Smuts, is quite different. With them we see Europe a free association of independent States; and because of that contrast we remain unmoved by threats.

Hitler has now made it plain that he is preparing to direct the whole weight of German might against this country. That is why in every part of Britain, in great towns and villages alike, there is only one spirit of indomitable resolution.

Nor has any one any doubt that if Hitler were to succeed it would be the end, for many besides ourselves, of all those things which, as we say, make life worth living.

We realize that the struggle may cost us everything, but just because the things we are defending are worth anysacrifice, it is a noble privilege to be the defenders of things so precious.

We never wanted the war; certainly no one here wants the war to go on for a day longer than is necessary.

But we shall not stop fighting till freedom, for ourselves and others, is secure.

What do we mean when we say that we are fighting for freedom?

We want to be able to live our own lives as we like, and not have to look over our shoulders all the time to see if the Gestapo is listening.

We want to worship God as we like, and this religious freedom based on conscience we will not let go. For conscience is not something that you can hand over to anybody else.

But in Germany the people have given their consciences to Hitler so the people have become machines. And what has been the effect on Hitler?

When he first gained power he was at pains to explain that his aims were strictly limited. He was only concerned with the welfare of Germany. He had no claims against her neighbors. But steadily his appetite grew, until today he assumes the role of a supreme protector.

Already we see him ruling through creatures, pale shadows of himself, that he has established in central and northern Europe. Further south, Mussolini, flushed by his triumphs over a France whom he has not fought, may be allowed the role of master of a Mediterranean which he has not conquered.

For Hitler, force has become the final rule of the destinies of men and nations. Germany has the force. Hence Germany must alone decide how the nations are to live together. What matter if they do not like it?

Man, in his view, is a frail creature, fallible and made to obey, and will soon learn to obey his master. According to Hitler, old-fashioned respect for the pledged word is a sign of weak fibre, and unworthy of robust masterminds.

He would have no nonsense about equality before the law which is an outrage against reason and the all-powerful State. Bad faith, cruelty, crime become right by the fact that it is he, Hitler, who ordains them. That is the fundamental challenge of anti-Christ which it is our duty as Christians to fight with all our power.

The peoples of the British Commonwealth, along with all those who love the trust and justice and freedom will never accept this new world of Hitler's.

Free men not slaves. Free nations, not German vassals. A community of nations freely cooperating for the good of all these are the pillars of the new and better order that the British people wish to see.

And I hope that our country which leads the fight today to prevent the immeasurable human tragedy which Hitler's victory would mean will be the one to point the way for all peoples to a better life.

We can be of good heart when we survey the prospect. Hitler may plant the swastika where he will, but unless he can sap the strength of Britain, the foundations of his empire are built on sand.

In their hearts the peoples that he has beaten down curse him and pray that his attacks may be broken on the defenses of our island fortress.

They long for the day when we shall sally forth and return blow for blow.

We shall assuredly not disappoint them. Then will come the day of final reckoning when Hitler's mad plans for Europe will be shattered by the unconquerable passion of man for freedom. And beyond the bounds ofEurope, across the wide Atlantic, there are mighty nations who view his works with growing detestation.

The people of the United States did not build their new home in order to surrender it to this fanatic. They have judged his narrow and twisted vision. They see that his gospel is a gospel of hate, that his policy is the policy of brute force, his message to mankind the enthralment of the human spirit under ruthless tyranny.

We may take heart from the certain knowledge that that great people pray for our victory over this wicked man and his ways as fervently as any of his present victims. The foundations of their country, as of ours, have been Christian teaching and belief in God.

For this reason, I have no doubt that the King's broadcast last Christmas, when he spoke of putting our hand in the hand of God, went home to them as it did to us.

Where will God lead us? Not, we may be sure, through easy or pleasant paths. That is not His way. He will not help us to avoid our difficulties. What He will do is to give to those, who humbly ask, the spirit that no dangers can disturb.

The Christian message to the world brings peace in war; peace where we most need it; peace of soul.

It is that same Christian message which makes its giver, who is God, the best friend with whom a man can share life or death. Those of us who cannot serve in the armed forces must all do our best in other ways to help them. I'm sure we shall and there is one thing we can all do, soldiers, sailors, airmen and civilians, men, women and children, all together, which may be much more powerful than we know. And this is to pray.

1 heard the other day of a Yorkshire village where after all the talk about a fifth column the people had agreed to form a sixth column, in which they pledged themselves to try and give a few minutes each day in God's house to prayer. We shall naturally ask God to take care of those we love and to bless the cause for which our country is at war. We can ask this with confidence because we know that we are trying to resist things that cannot be according to God's will.

But prayer is not only asking God for what we want, but rather the way to learn to. trust Him, to ask that we may know His will and do it with all our strength. If we can really do our work, whatever it is, as well as we can in God's sight, it will become His work, and we can safely leave the issue in His hands.

This, then, is the spirit in which we must march together in this crusade for Christianity.

We and our great dominions overseas stand, and shall continue to stand, four square against the forces of evil.

We shall go forward, seeing clearly both the splendor and the perils of the task, but strengthened by the faith, through which by God's help, as we try to do His service, we shall prevail.