The Shooting Has Started
WHAT WILL MATTER IS WHO FIRED THE LAST SHOT
By PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
Radio Address delivered from Washington, October 27, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 66-68.
FIVE months ago tonight I proclaimed to the American people the existence of a state of unlimited emergency. Since then much has happened. Our Army and Navy are temporarily in Iceland in the defense of the Western Hemisphere.
Hitler has attacked shipping in areas close to the Americas in the North and South Atlantic.
Many American-owned ships have been sunk on the high seas. One American destroyer was attacked on September 4. Another destroyer was attacked and hit on October 17. Eleven brave and loyal men of our Navy were killed by the Nazis.
We have wished to avoid shooting. But the shooting has started. And history has recorded who fired the first shot. In the long run, however, all that will matter is who fired the last shot.
America has been attacked. The U.S.S. Kearny is not just a Navy ship. She belongs to every man, woman and child in this nation.
Illinois, Alabama, California, North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arkansas, New York and Virginia—those are the home States of the honored dead and wounded of the Kearny. Hitler's torpedo was directed at every American, whether he lives on our coasts or in the innermost parts of the country, far from the seas and far from the guns and tanks of the marching hordes of would-be conquerors of the world.
The purpose of Hitler's attacks was to frighten, frighten the American people off the high seas—to force us to make a trembling retreat. This is not the first time that he has misjudged the American spirit. And today that spirit is now aroused.
If our national policy were to be dominated by the fear of shooting, then all of our ships and those of our sister republics would have to be tied up in home harbors. Our Navy
would have to remain respectfully, abjectly, behind any line which Hitler might decree on any ocean as his own dictated version of his own war zone.
Naturally we reject that absurd and insulting suggestion. We reject it because of our own self-interest, because of our own self-respect and because, most of all, of our own good faith. Freedom of the seas is now, as it always has been, the fundamental policy of your government and mine.
Hitler has often protested that his plans for conquest do not extend across the Atlantic Ocean. But his submarines and raiders prove otherwise. And so does the entire design of his new world order.
For example, I have in my possession a secret map made in Germany by Hitler's government, by the planners of the new world order. It is a map of South America and a part of Central America, as Hitler proposes to reorganize it.
Today in this area there are fourteen separate countries. But the geographical experts of Berlin have ruthlessly obliterated all existing boundary lines. They have divided South America into five vassal States, bringing the whole continent under their domination. And they have also so arranged it that the territory of one of these new puppet States includes the Republic of Panama and our great life line, the Panama Canal.
That is his plan. It will never go into effect.
And that map, my friends, makes clear the Nazi design not only against South America but against the United States as well.
And your government has in its possession another document, a document made in Germany by Hitler's government. It is a detailed plan, which, for obvious reasons, the Nazis do not wish to publicize just yet, but which they are ready to impose a little later on a dominated world, if Hitler wins.
It is a plan to abolish all existing religions, Catholic, Prot-
estant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish alike. The property of all churches will be seized by the Reich and its puppets. The cross and all other symbols of religion are to be forbidden. The clergy are to be ever liquidated, silenced under penalty of the concentration camps, where even now so many fearless men are being tortured because they have placed God above Hitler.
In the place of the churches of our civilization there is to be set up an international Nazi church, a church which will be served by orators sent out by the Nazi government. And in the place of the Bible, the words of "Mein Kampf" will be imposed and enforced as Holy Writ. And in the place of the cross of Christ will be put two symbols, the swastika and the naked sword.
A god, the god of blood and iron, will take the place of the God of love and mercy. Let us well ponder that statement which I have made tonight.
These grim truths which I have told you of the present and future plans of Hitlerism will of course be hotly denied tonight and tomorrow in the controlled press and radio of the Axis powers. And some Americans, not many, will continue to insist that Hitler's plans need not worry us—that we should not concern ourselves with anything that goes on beyond rifle shot of our own shores.
The protestations of these few American citizens will, as usual, be paraded with applause through the Axis press and radio during the next few days in an effort to convince the world that the majority of Americans are opposed to their duly chosen government, and in reality are only waiting to jump on Hitler's band wagon when it comes this way.
The motive of such Americans is not the point at issue. The fact is that Nazi propaganda continues in desperation to seize upon such isolated statements as proof of American disunity.
The Nazis have made up their own list of modern American heroes. It is, fortunately, a short list and I am glad that it does not contain my name.
And so all of us Americans, of all opinions, in the last analysis are faced with the choice between the kind of world we want to live in and the kind of world which Hitler and his hordes would impose upon us.
None of us wants to burrow under the ground and live in total darkness like a comfortable mole.
The forward march of Hitler and of Hitlerism can be stopped, and it will be stopped.
Very simply and very bluntly—we are pledged to pull our own oar in the destruction of Hitlerism.
And when we have helped to end the curse of Hitlerism, we shall help to establish a new peace which will give to decent people everywhere a better chance to live and prosper in security and in freedom and in faith.
Every day that passes we are producing and providing more and more arms for the men who are fighting on actual battlefronts. That is our primary task.
And it is the nation's will that these vital arms and supplies of all kinds shall neither be locked up in American harbors nor sent to the bottom of the sea. It is the nation's will that America shall deliver the goods. In open defiance of that will, our ships have been sunk and our sailors have been killed.
And I say that we do not propose to take this lying down. That determination of ours not to take it lying down has been expressed in the orders to the American Navy to shoot on sight. And those orders stand.
Furthermore, the House of Representatives has already voted to amend a part of the Neutrality Act of 1937, today outmoded by force of violent circumstances. And the Senate
Committee on Foreign Relations has also recommended the elimination of other hamstringing provisions in that act. That is the course of honesty and of realism.
Our American merchant ships must be armed to defend themselves against the rattlesnakes of the sea.
Our American merchant ships must be free to carry our American goods into the harbors of our friends.
And our American merchant ships must be protected by our American Navy.
In the light of a good many years of personal experience I think that it can be said that it can never be doubted that the goods will be delivered by this nation, whose Navy believes in the tradition of "damn the torpedoes; full steam ahead!"
Yes, our nation will and must speak from every assembly line—yes, from every coal mine, the all-inclusive whole of our vast industrial machine. Our factories and our shipyards are constantly expanding. Our output must be multiplied.
That output cannot be hampered by the selfish obstruction of any small minority, a small but dangerous minority of industrial managers who, perhaps, hold out for extra profits, or for "business as usual." And it cannot be hampered by the selfish obstruction of a small but dangerous minority of labor leaders for a minute. For labor as a whole knows that that small minority is a menace to the true cause of labor itself, as well as for the nation as a whole.
And so the lines of our essential defense now cover all the seas; and to meet the extraordinary demands of today and tomorrow our Navy grows to unprecedented size. Our Navy is ready for action. Indeed, units of it in the Atlantic patrol are in action. Its officers and men need no praise from me.
Our new Army is steadily developing the strength needed to withstand the aggressors. Our soldiers of today are worthy of the proudest traditions of the United States Army. But tradition cannot shoot down dive-bombers or destroy tanks. That is why we must and shall provide for every one of our soldiers equipment and weapons, not merely as good but better than that of any other army on earth. And we are doing that right now.
For this, and all of this, is what we mean by total national defense.
The first objective of that defense is to stop Hitler. He can be stopped and can be compelled to dig in. And that will be the beginning of the end of his downfall, because dictatorship of the Hitler type can live only through continuing victories and increasing conquests.
The facts of 1918 are proof that a mighty German Army and a tired German people can crumble rapidly and go to pieces when they are faced with successful resistance.
Nobody who admires qualities of courage and endurance can fail to be stirred by the full-fledged resistance of the Russian people. The Russians are fighting for their own soil and their own homes. Russia needs all kinds of help—planes and tanks, guns and medical supplies and other aids—toward the successful defense against the invaders. From the United States and from Britain she is getting great quantities of these essential supplies. But the needs of her huge army will continue, and our help and British help will also continue!
The other day the Secretary of State of the United States, was asked by a Senator to justify our giving aid to Russia. His reply was:
"The answer to that, Senator, depends on how anxious a person is to stop, to destroy the march of Hitler in his conquest of the world. If he were anxious enough to defeat Hitler, he would not worry about who was helping to defeat him."
Upon our American production falls the colossal task of equipping our own armed forces, and helping to supply the British and the Russians and the Chinese. In the performance of that task we dare not fail. And we will not fail.
It has not been easy for us Americans to adjust ourselves to the shocking realities of a world in which the principles of common humanity and common decency are being mowed down by the firing squads of the Gestapo. We have enjoyed many of God's blessings. We have lived in a broad and abundant land and by our industry and productivity we have made it flourish.
There are those who say that our great good fortune has betrayed us, that we are now no match for the regimented masses who have been trained in the Spartan ways of ruthless brutality. They say that we have grown fat and flabby and lazy—and that we are doomed.
But those who say that know nothing of America or of American life.
They do not know that this land is great because it is a land of endless challenge. Our country was first populated, and it has been steadily developed, by men and women in whom there burned the spirit of adventure and restlessness and individual independence which will not tolerate oppression.
Ours has been a story, a story of vigorous challenge which has been accepted and overcome—challenges of uncharted seas, of wild forests and desert plains, of raging floods and withering droughts, of foreign tyrants and domestic strife, of staggering problems, social and economic and physical. And we have come out of them the most powerful nation—and the freest—in all of history.
Today, in the face of this newest and greatest challenge of them all, we Americans have cleared our decks and taken our battle stations. We stand ready in the defense of our nation and in the faith of our fathers to do what God has given us the power to see as our full duty.
Can Europe's Children Be Saved?
HITLER CANNOT BE DEFEATED BY ARMIES OF STARVING CHILDREN
By HERBERT HOOVER, Ex-President of the United States
Broadcast over the Mutual Broadcasting System, October 19, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 68-71.
JUST a year ago I and a large committee of American religious and public leaders proposed a plan to prevent wholesale starvation in the German-invaded democracies. They were being ground between the millstones of German requisitions and the British blockade. I appealed for international cooperation to prevent a holocaust of death and stunted bodies and minds in their millions of children.
Since we presented this terrible problem a year ago Serbia, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia have been conquered. Today there are somewhere near 40 millions of children in German-invaded democracies. Millions of them are in jeopardy. And these are peoples who fought for their freedom, who were overpowered, who have been subjected to terrible oppressions. Their pleas ascend hourly to the free democracies of the West for food.
According to the press dispatches His Holiness the Pope has raised his powerful voice for cooperation in the future interest of humanity.
The starvation we forecast a year ago and which we hoped to prevent has swept over many of these innocent people during the last winter and spring. I have no wish to recite the heart-breaking reports which come to us daily. I will mention but two of them.
A survey of Belgium three months ago by the leading physicians and health authorities showed the march of the tragedy we had tried to prevent. The report reaffirms that strong adults can survive for awhile on a meager ration of bread and potatoes of late mostly furnished by the Germans. The shortage in meats, fats and milk is crucifying the children. This report showed that the people are devoting practically all their meager fats and milk to the children under three years of age. Yet with all this sacrifice there is a deficiency in food for even the little ones. The report continues that the worst effects of starvation show among the children from three years upwards. They say that 47 per cent of the children in the kindergartens, 63 per cent of primary schools, and 42 per cent in the higher schools were in a definitely weak condition. They inform us that many
children were unable to come to school at all. There has been appalling stop in growth, rise in disease and mortality among them. The report ends with the statement, "The health of several generations will be irremediably impaired if nothing is done to relieve the present situation."
Then there is a report from Poland. This report concerns the Jews in the city of Warsaw. It shows that in July deaths had increased to 15 times the normal rate. The municipal newspaper was appealing to the people not to throw the corpses in the streets. Normally the birth rate there exceeds the death rate, yet the death rate among children was ten times the birth rate. The report closes, "If any subsantial part of Polish Jewry is to survive the horrors of next winter it can be done only under such a plan as Mr. Hoover has proposed." Does anyone doubt that Greek children are starving in thousands?
I have no desire to repeat horrors beyond indicating the situation.
The situation during the forthcoming winter over Europe will be far worse even than last winter and spring. Except in Germany, the harvests have been less than they were even a year ago. The blockade has somewhat reduced the meats and fats in Germany. But its effect upon meat, fat and food for children is far greater in the occupied democracies. They bear the full impact.
There are other tragedies of this war. I am not blind to the thousands of women and children killed from the sky. I am not blind to the horrors of sinking ships at sea. I am not blind to the execution of hostages. And I am not blind to the millions of men dying and wounded upon the battlefields. I am not blind to the oppression of occupying armies. I pray all these things may be stopped. But I know they will not be stopped now. There is, however, the possibility that this one horror of the sacrifice of children could be stopped.
I raised the question a year ago in response to an appeal to me from the peoples inside those countries and officials of their exiled governments. That appeal was directed to