British Foreign Policy
PROBLEMS OF PRESENT; HOPES OF FUTURE
By WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of Great Britain
Delivered in the House of Commons, London, May 24, 1944
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. X, pp. 482-490.
THE meeting of the Dominion Prime Ministers, which covered the best part of five weeks, is now concluded and very full statements to Parliament and the public have been made individually by the Prime Ministers themselves and collectively by the declaration to which we have all subscribed.
I should not pretend that we have arrived at hard and fast conclusions or precise decisions upon all questions which torment this afflicted globe, but it can be fairly said that; having discussed a great many of them, there was revealed a core of agreement which will enable the British Empire and Commonwealth to meet in discussion with other organizations in the world in a firmly knit array. We have advanced from vague generalities to more precise points and agreements and we are in position to carry on discussions with other countries within limits which we have imposed upon ourselves by this debate upon foreign affairs; and nothing was more remarkable than the cordial agreement which was expressed by every one of the dominion Prime Ministers in the general conduct of our foreign affairs and in the principles which govern that conduct, or, I should add, in the skill and consistency With which they have been treated by the Foreign Secretary.
Confidence in Eden
The utmost confidence was expressed in him and in his handling of all the very difficult affairs, in spite of complications by which they were surrounded, in spite of the need for prompt action, which so often arises, by the mother country before there is time to have a full consultation.
In spite of all those difficulties, the utmost confidence and pleasure were expressed in the work which my Right Honorable friend had done. We therefore embark upon the present debate with the backing and hearty good-will from all representatives of the Commonwealth and Empire.
The word Empire is permitted to be used, which may be a great shock to a certain strain of intellectual opinion.
We embark on the present debate, not only with this backing of hearty good-will, but with the feeling that this meeting of Prime Ministers from all over the Empire and the representatives of India in the midst of a second deadly war is in fact the highest pinnacle which our world-wide family association has yet reached.
At this time, in policy and in war, our objective is the same—namely, to beat the enemy as soon as possible. And I am not aware of any action, or any studied inaction, for which His Majesty's Government is responsible that has not been directly related to this single and dominant purpose.
The duty of all persons responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs in a world war of this deadly character and of all who in different ways exercise influence is to help fighting men perform the heavy task entrusted to them by insuring them of all possible ease in execution and advantage in victory. Every one who is in position to guide public opinion, like members of this House or of another place, or newspaper editors, broadcasters and columnists and others, should keep this very clear duty before their eyes.
They should always think of the soldier in battle and ask themselves whether what they say or write will make his task easier. We long for the day to come when this slaughter will be over and when this additional restraint which imposes itself upon every conscientious man in wartime can be relaxed or will vanish away entirely.
Sees Precepts Followed
I must make my acknowledgment first of all to the very great degree with which these precepts are followed among those who accept the task of guiding public opinion and of those especially in this House, which is always so careful of public interest and which in other ways has shown itself tobe possessed of those steadfast and unyielding qualities in the face of danger and fatigue for which it has always been renowned but never more renowned than now.
I shall try to practice what I have been preaching in the ternaries I have made and I am sure the House will remember how many different audiences I have to address at the same moment, not only here but out-of-doors, not only in this island but throughout the empire, not only among our allies great and small, west or east, and finally among our enemies, besides, of course, the satellites and neutrals of various hues. I must therefore pick my way among heated ploughshares, and in this ordeal the only guides are singleness of purpose and a good, or at any rate, well trained conscience.
Since I last spoke here on foreign affairs just about three months ago, almost all of the purposes which I mentioned to you have prospered severally and collectively.
First of all, let us survey the Mediterranean and Balkans spheres. A great disappointment which I had last October when I was not able to procure the necessary forces for gaining command of the Aegean Sea following collapse of Italy and gaining possession of the principal Italian islands —that disappointment has, of course, been accompanied by an exaggerated attitude of caution on the side of Turkey.
The hopes we cherished of Turkey boldly entering the war in February or March, or at least according the necessary bases for air action—these hopes have faded.
After giving £20,000,000 worth of British and American arms to Turkey in 1943 alone, we have suspended the process and have ceased to exhort Turkey to range herself with the victorious united powers with whom she has frequently declared that her sympathies lie and with whom I think there, is no doubt that her sympathies do lie. But Turks in those discussions at the end of last year and at the beginning of this have magnified their danger.
Their military men took the gloomiest view of Russian prospects in south Russia and the Crimea. They never dreamed that by early summer the Red armies would be on the slopes of the Carpathians, drawn up along the Pruth and Siret rivers, or that Odessa and Sevastopol would be liberated and regained by the extraordinary valor, might and energy of the Soviet onslaught.
Finds Turks Erred
Consequently the Turks did not measure with sufficient accuracy what might occur or what occurred in Rumania and Bulgaria nor, I might add, Hungary, and what would be the result on those countries of those tremendous Russian hammer blows struck even in months which are particularly unsuitable for operations in those regions and which would be normally devoted to the process of replenishing advancing fronts for future action.
Having overrated their dangers, our Turkish friends increased their demands for supplies to such a point that, having regard to means of communication and transport alone, the war probably would be over before those supplies could reach them.
We have, therefore, with great regret discontinued the process of arming Turkey because it looks probable that, in spite of our disappointment in the Aegean, the Allies will be able to win the war in the Balkans and generally throughout southeast Europe without Turkey being involved at all, although, of course, the aid of Turkey would be a great help and acceleration in that purpose.
This, of course, is a decision for Turkey to make, and we have put no pressure other than the pressure of argument, of not giving supplies we need for ourselves and other nations that are fighting upon our side; but the course which is being taken and has been taken so far by Turkey will not, in my view, procure for the Turks the strong position at the peace table which would attend their joining the Allies.
I must, however, note the good services and significant gestures rendered to us by the Turkish Government. Recently—and it is said that it has been rendered to us on the personal initiative of Turkey's honored President, General Inonu—namely, the complete cessation of chrome exports to Germany.
It is not too much to expect the assistance given us in respect to chrome will also be extended in a short time to cover other commodities, export of which, even if of less importance than chrome, is of material assistance to the enemy. If so, we shall endeavor to compensate the Turkish people for sacrifices which their cooperative action may entail by other means of importation.
Premier Speaks Bluntly
I thought it right to speak bluntly today. Turkey and Britain have a long history. They entered into relations with us before the war when things looked very black, and they did their best in very difficult times. Notwithstanding anything I have said in criticism, we hope with increasing confidence that still a better day will dawn for the relations of Turkey with Britain, and, indeed, with all of the Allies.
Always in recent decades there has been in the Mediterranean a certain tension between Turkey and Italy on account of Italian ambition in the Greek islands and also, possibly, in Adana Province of Turkey. The Turks could never know which way the Italian dictator would take his would-be conquering sword. On that score Turkey's anxiety has been very largely removed.
The fate of Italy is, indeed, terrible, and personally I find it difficult to nourish animosity against the Italian people. The overwhelming mass of the nation rejoiced in the idea of being released from the subtle tyranny of the Fascists, and they wished when Mussolini was overthrown to take their place as speedily as possible by the side of the British and American armies, who, it was expected, would quickly rid the country of the Germans. However, this did not happen.
All Italian forces which could have defended Italy had either been squandered by Mussolini in the African deserts or by Hitler amid the Russian snows or were dispersed in combating, in a half-hearted way, the patriots of Yugoslavia.
Hitler decided to make great exertions to retain Italy, just as he has decided to make great exertions to gain the mighty battle which at this moment is at a climax south of Rome.
It may be that after the fall of Mussolini our action might have been more swift or audacious. It is no part of my submission that no mistakes are made by us or by the common action of our Allies. But anyhow, here is this beautiful country suffering the worst horrors of war, with the larger part still under the cruel and vengeful grip of the Nazis, and with the hideous prospect of a red-hot rake of battle lines being drawn from sea to sea right up the whole length of the peninsula.
Hopes to Spare Rome
It is clear that the Germans will be driven out of Italy by the Allies, but that will happen on moving battlefronts; and what the Germans will do on their way out in the way of destruction to a people they hate and despise, and who they allege have betrayed them—that cannot be imagined or forecast. All I can say is we shall do our utmost to make the ordeal as short and as little destructive as possible.
We have great hopes that the city of Rome will be preserved from the struggle of our armies.
The House will recall that when I last spoke on foreign matters I expressed the view that it would be best that King Victor Emmanuel, and above all Marshal Badoglio, should remain as head of the executive of the Italian nation and armed forces until we reached Rome, when it was agreed by all that a general review of the position must be made.
Such a policy naturally entails differences of opinion which were reflected not only among the Allied governments but inside every Allied country. However, I am happy to say that, after various unexpected happenings and many twists and turns, the situation is now exactly what I ventured to suggest and as I described it to the House three months ago.
In addition to that, far beyond my hopes, an Italian Government has been formed of a broadly based character around the King and Badoglio, and the King himself has decided that on capture of Rome he will retire to private life forever, transferring his constitutional titles to his son, the Prince of Piedmont, with the title of Lieutenant of the Realm.
I have every confidence in this Italian Government which has Been formed. It will require further strengthening and broadening, especially as we come more closely in touch with the populous industrial areas of the north: But at any rate it is facing its responsibilities manfully and is doing all in its power to aid the Allies in their advance.
We are doing our best to equip the Italian forces willing to fight for us and riot under the power of the Germans. They have played their part in the lines on more than one occasion. Their fleet is discharging most useful and important services for us, not only in the Mediterranean but in the Atlantic, and the loyal Italian air force has also fought so well that I am making special efforts to supply them with improved aircraft of British manufacture.
Economic Assistance Given
We are also doing our best to assist the Italian Government to grapple with difficult financial and economic conditions which they inherited from fascism and which, though improving, are still severe behind the line of the Army.
It is understood throughout Italy, and it is the firm intention of the United Nations, that Italy, like all other countries which are now associated with us, shall have fair and free opportunity, as soon as the Germans are driven out and tranquillity is restored, of deciding whatever form of democratic government, whether monarchial or republican, they desire.
I emphasize the word democratic because it is quite clear that we shall not allow any form of fascism to be restored or set up in any country with which we have been at war.
From Italy one turns naturally to Spain, once the most famous empire in the world and down to this day a strong community in a wide land with marked personality and distinguished culture among the nations of Europe.
Some people think that our foreign policy toward Spain is best expressed by drawing comical or even rude caricatures of General Franco, but I think there is more than that. When our present Ambassador to Spain, Sir Samuel Hoare, went to Madrid almost exactly four years ago to the month, we arranged to keep his airplane waiting on the airfield, as it seemed almost certain that Spain, whose dominant party were under the influence of Germany because Germany had helped them so vigorously in the recently ended civil war, would follow the example of Italy and join the victorious Germans in a war against Britain.
Indeed, at this time the Germans proposed to the Spanish Government that triumphal marches of German troops should be held in the principal Spanish cities, and I have no doubt that they suggested to them that the Germans would undertake, in return for a virtual occupation of their country, the seizure of Gibraltar, which would then be handed back to Germanized Spain.
Heavier Tasks Averted
This latest feature would have been easier said than done. But there is no doubt that if Spain had yielded to German blandishments and pressure at that juncture, our burden would have been much heavier.
The Straits of Gibraltar would have been closed and all access to the Mediterranean would have been cut off from the west, and the Spanish coasts would have become a nesting place for German U-boats. I certainly did not feel at the time that I would have liked to see any of these things happen, and none of them did happen. Our Ambassador deserves credit for the influence he rapidly acquired and which continually grew.
In his work he was assisted by a gifted man, Mr. Yencken, whose sudden death by an airplane accident is a loss which I am sure has been noted by the House. But the main credit is undoubtedly due to the Spanish resolve to keep out of the war. They had had enough war, and they wished to keep out of it. I think some sentiment may have been due to the fact that looking back, the Spanish people should remember that Britain had helped Spain free herself from Napoleonic tyranny 130 years ago.
At any rate the critical moment has passed. The Battle of Britain was won. The island power which was expected to be ruined and subjugated in a few months was seen that very winter, not only intact and far stronger in the homeland, but also advancing in giant strides under Wavell's guidance along the African shore, taking about a quarter of a million Italian prisoners on the way.
But another very serious crisis occurred in our relations with Spain before the operation designated as "torch." That is to say, the descent of United States and British forces upon northwest Africa was begun.
Before that operation was begun, the situation of Spain or Spain's power to injure us was at its very height. For a long time before this we had been steadily expanding our airfield at Gibraltar and building it out to sea, and for one month before the zero hour on November 7, 1942, we had sometimes 600 airplanes crowded on this airfield in full range and full view of Spanish batteries.
Spaniards Kept Calm
It was very difficult for Spaniards to believe that all these airplanes were intended to reinforce Malta, and I can assure the House that passage of these critical days was very anxious indeed.
However, the Spaniards continued absolutely friendly and tranquil. They asked no questions and raised no inconvenience. If in some directions they have taken an indulgent view of German U-boats in distress or have continued active exportations to Germany, they made amends on this occasion, in my view, as far as our advantage was concerned, for these irregularities by completely ignoring the situation of Gibraltar where, apart from the aircraft, enormous numbers of ships were anchored far outside neutral waters inside the Bay of Algeciras, always under command of Spanish shore guns.
We should have suffered the greatest inconvenience if we had been ordered to remove these ships.
If we had been, I do not know how the vast convoys could have been marshaled and assembled.
I shall always consider it a service rendered at this time by Spain, not only to the United Kingdom and the British Empire and Commonwealth, but to the cause of the United Nations.
I have, however, no sympathy with those who think it clever and even funny to insult and abuse the Government of Spain whenever the occasion serves. I have had the responsibility of guiding the Government while we have passed through mortal perils, and therefore I think I have some means of forming a correct judgment about the values of events at critical moments as they occur.
I am very glad now, after prolonged negotiations, that a still better arrangement has been made with Spain which deals in a satisfactory manner with the Italian ships which had taken refuge in Spanish harbors and which has led to to hauling down of the German flag in Tangier and the breaking of the shield over the consulate, and which in a few days will be followed by the complete departure of the German representatives from Tangier, although they apparently still remain in Dublin.
Finally, it has led to an agreement about Spanish wolfram, which has been reached without any affront to Spanish dignity and has reduced the export of wolfram from Spain to Germany during the coming critical months to a few lorry loads per month.
Victories Aided Accord
It is true that this agreement has been helped by the continuous victories of the Allies in many parts of the world, and especially in North Africa and Italy, and also by the immense threat by which the Germans conceive themselves to be menaced by all this talk of invasion across the Channel. This, for what it is worth, has made it quite impossible for Hitler to consider reprisals on Spain. All his troops have had to be removed away from the frontier, and he has no inclination to face bitter guerrilla warfare because he has got quite enough to satisfy himself in so many other countries which he is holding by brute force.
I am here today to speak kindly words about Spain. Let me add this hope, that she will be a strong influence for rim peace of the Mediterranean after the war.
The internal political arrangements in Spain are a matter for Spaniards themselves. It is not for us to meddle in these affairs as a government.
[Laborite Emmanuel Shinwell here interposed: "You said as regards the restoration of Fascist government in Italy, it could not be effected. What is the difference?"]
The reason is that Italy attacked us. There is a clear line of distinction between nations who go to war with you and nations who leave you alone.
[Laborite Haden Guest asked here: "Is not a Fascist government a preparation for attack?"]
We do not include in our program of world renovation any forcible action against any government whose internal form of administration does not come up to our ideas, and any remarks I have made on that subject refer only to enemy powers and their satellites who will be struck down by the force of arms. They are the ones who have ventured into the open and they are the ones whom we shall not allow to become again an expression of those peculiar doctrines associated with fascism and nazism, which undoubtedly have brought about the terrible struggle in which we are engaged. Surely anyone can see the difference. [Mr. Shinwell asked: "What is the difference?"]
There is all the difference in the world between a man who knocks you down and a man who leaves you alone. You might conceivably take active interest in what happens to the former in case his inclination should recur, but we pass many people in ordinary daily life about whose internal affairs we do not feel ourselves called upon to make continued inquiry.
We speak plain words to the Spaniards in the hour of our strength as we did in the hour of our weakness. I look forward to increasingly good relations with Spain and extremely fruitful trade between Spain and this country, which I trust will grow during war and expand after peace.
Iron from Bilbao and north Spain is of great value to this country both in war and peace.
Our Ambassador goes back to Spain for further important duties, and I have no doubt that he goes with the good wishes of a large majority of the House and of all thoughtful and unprejudiced persons.
[Mr. Shinwell made a further remark, and Mr. Churchill said to him: "No one more than Mr. Shinwell would wish that he should be successful in anything that would do good for the common cause." Mr. Shinwell nodded and Mr. Churchill, smiling broadly, added: "You have failed as a real opposition figure because you never could conceal your satisfaction when we win—and we sometimes do."]
I am happy to announce a hopeful turn in Greek affairs. When I last spoke of them I described them as the saddest case of all. We have passed through a crisis of serious character since then. A Greek brigade and a large proportion of the Greek Navy mutinied, declaring themselves in one way or another on the side of an organization called Eam—Greek Freedom Movement—and, of course, against the King and his government.
The King of Greece, who was in London, was advised by nearly everyone concerned in Cairo not to go back and warned that his life was in danger. He returned to Cairo the next day. The situation was then most serious.
The Greek brigade was encircled by British forces some thirty miles away from Alexandria, and Greek ships which had mutinied in Alexandria Harbor were lying under the guns of both shore batteries and our superior naval forces, which had rapidly gathered.
This tension lasted nearly three weeks. In due course the mutiny was suppressed, the disorderly ships were boarded by Greeks under the Greek Government, and, with about fifty killed and wounded, the mutineers were collected and sent ashore.
British Quelled Mutiny
The mutinous brigade in the desert were assaulted by superior British forces which captured the eminences surrounding the camp, and 4,000 men there surrendered. There were no casualties among the Greeks, but one British officer was killed in attack upon an eminence. This is a matter which cannot be overlooked.
The greatest patience and tact were shown by the British military and naval authorities involved and for some weeks past, order has been firmly established and the Greek forces who were misled into evil deeds by subversive movements have been interned for the time being.
The then Prime Minister, Mr. Tsouderos, had already tried, before this thing happened, to arrange a meeting of all representatives of Greek opinion and to construct his administration so as to include them. He acquitted himself with dignity, and was helped by Mr. Venizelos, son of the great Venizelos whom we all esteemed so highly in the first World War,
At this moment, there emerged upon the scene Mr, Papandreou, a man greatly respected who had lived throughout the war in Athens and who was known as a man of remarkable character and one who could not be swayed by party interests, his own party being a very small one.
Mr. Papandreou became the King's new Prime Minister, but before forming his Government he called a conference which met last week in Lebanon. Every party in Greek life was represented, and there were included the Earn, Communists and others—a dozen parties or more. The fullest debate took place and all expressed their feelings freely.
This disclosed an appalling situation in Greece. Excesses of Elas, which is a military body operating under the Eam, had so alienated the population in many parts that the Germans had been able to form security battalions of Greeks to fight the Earn. Those security battalions were made up in many cases of men who would far rather have been out in the hills maintaining guerrilla warfare. They had been completely alienated.
At the same time a state of hostility and suspicion, which led last autumn to actual civil war, existed between the Earn and other resistance organizations, especially the Edes under Colonel Zervas, who commands the undivided support of the civilian population in his area and has always shown the strictest compliance with orders sent him from [Allied] general headquarters in the Middle East, under whom all these forces have been placed.
Conferees Reached Unity
Thus it seemed to be a question of all against all and no one but the Germans rejoicing. Now after prolonged discussions, complete unity was reached at the Lebanon conference and all parties will be represented in a new government.
It will devote itself to what is, after all, the only purpose worthy of consideration—namely, the forming of a national army in which all guerrilla bands will be incorporated and the driving with this army of the enemy from the country or, better still, destroying the enemy where he stands.
On Monday there was published in newspapers a very agreeable letter which I received from the leaders of the Communists—which is more than I received from the honorable gentleman [William Gailaeher] who represents the party here. I received a very agreeable letter from the leaders of the Communists and Extreme kft parties, and today there have also been published in the papers a letter I have received from M. Papandreou and another to the Foreign Secretary, expressing the hopes which he has for the future of his Government and thanks for the assistance we have given in getting around these troubles which I call diseases of defeat in Greece, which she now has a chance of shaking off.
The present situation—I hope and pray this may be so—indicates that a new and fair start will come to Greece in her struggle to cleanse her soil from the foreign invader.
And I have also to report to the House that a very marked and beneficial change has occurred in the situation in Greece that I could not give when I last spoke on this subject.
There was trouble with a destroyer we were giving Greece here, and matters remained so uncertain we were not able to hand it over, but I hope that as part of this reconstructed government and this new start which has been made this ship will soon be manned and will go to strengthen the Greek Navy as it returns to discipline and duty.
I gave some lengthy accounts last autumn of the position in Yugoslavia and our relations with the different jurisdictions there. The difficulty and magnitude of this business are very great. It must be remembered that not only three strongly marked races—Serbs, Croats and Slovenes—are involved, but farther south Albanians in the area also are making a bold bid from German rule. They, too, at present are split into several competing and even antagonistic groups.
Avoids Taking Sides
Nothing is easier than to espouse any one of the various causes in these different countries with all their claims and counter-claims, and one could find complete satisfaction in telling the tale from that particular standpoint. It is possibly the easiest kind of speech to make, to take a particular case and run it home on a single track mind without any consideration for anything else, but we have to think of policy as well as oratory.
We have time to think of the problem as a whole and also to relate our action to the main purpose which I proclaimed at the beginning of my speech, namely to beat the enemy as soon as possible and to gather all forces together for that purpose in priority to any other purposes. I can only tell you today the further positions which have been reached in Yugoslavia as a result of unremitting exertions of our foreign policy. They are, in my opinion, far more satisfactory than they were.
I have received a message from King Peter that he has accepted the resignation of Mr. Puritch and his Cabinet and is in the process of forming a new and smaller Cabinet with the purpose of assisting active resistance in Yugoslavia and of uniting as far as possible all fighting elements in that country.
I understand that the process of forming a new Government involves the severance from the Royal Yugoslav Government of General Mikhailovitch in bis capacity as Minister of War, and I understand also that the Ban of Croatia is an important factor in the political arrangement around whom or at the side of whom certain other elements may group themselves for the purpose of beating the enemy by a united Yugoslavia.
This, or course, has the support of the British Government. We do not know what will happen in the Serbian parts of Yugoslavia. The reason why we have ceased to supply General Mikhailovitch with arms and support is a simple one. He has not been fighting the enemy and, moreover, some of his subordinates have made accommodations with the enemy from which have arisen armed conflicts with the forces of Marshal Tito, accompanied by many charges and counter-charges and the loss of patriot lives to the German advantage.
Position Still Powerful
Mikhailovitch certainly holds a powerful position locally as the Commander in Chief, and it does not mean that his ceasing to be Minister of War will rob him of his local influence. We cannot predict what he will do or what will happen.
We have proclaimed ourselves strong supporters of Marshal Tito because of his heroic and passive struggle against the German armies. We are sending and planning to send the largest possible supplies of weapons to him and to makethe closest possible contacts with him.
I had the advantage of having long conversations with General Velebit, who has been over here on a military mission from Marshal Tito, and it has been arranged among other things that Marshal Tito shall send here a personal military representative in order that we may be kept in the closest touch with all that is being done and with the effect of it in Yugoslavia. This is, of course, additional to the contacts established with Marshal Tito and General Wilson's headquarters in the Middle East and in Algiers, and will, of Course, be coordinated therewith.
It must, however, be remembered that this question doesnot turn on General Mikhaiiovitch alone. There is also a very large body, amounting perhaps to 200,000 Serbian peasant property owners, who are anti-German but strongly Serbian and who naturally hold the view of the peasant ownership community in regard to property. They are not as enthusiastic in regard to communism as some of those in Croatia and Slovenia.
Marshal Tito has largely sunk his communistic aspect in s character as a Yugoslav patriotic leader. He has repeatedly proclaimed that he has no intention of reversing the property and social systems which prevail in Serbia, but these facts are not accepted yet by the other side.
The Serbians are a race with a historic past. It was from Serbia that there came the spark which fired the explosion of the first World War. We remember the heroic retreat over mountains, and a very large number of Serbians are fighting with Marshal Tito's forces.
Our object is that all forces in Yugoslavia and the whole united strength of Serbia may be made to work together under the military direction of Marshal Tito for a united dependent Yugoslavia which will expel from native soil the Hitlerite murderers and invaders until not one remains.
Cites Epic of Resistance
The cruelty and atrocities of the Germans in Greece and Yugoslavia exceed anything of which we have heard, and we heard of terrible things. But the resistance of these heroic mountaineers has been one of the most splendid features of the war, and they will long be honored in history. I am sure that children will read the romance of these struggles and will have imprinted in their minds that love of freedom, that readiness to cast away life and comfort and all there is around one, in order to gain the right to live unmolested in your native home.
All I can say is that we must be given a little reasonable latitude to work together for this union. It would be quite easy to take whole-heartedly one side or the other. I have made it very plain where my sympathies lie, but nothing would give greater pleasure to the Germans than to see all these hardy mountaineers engaged in internecine strife gainst one another.
We cannot afford at this crisis to neglect anything which will obstruct real unity throughout the wide regions where, at the present time, upward of twelve German division are ripped in Yugoslavia alone and twenty in all—that is, another ten in the Balkans and the Aegean Islands.
All eyes must be turned on the common foe. Perhaps we have had some success in this direction in Greece. At any rate, it sums up our policy toward Yugoslavia, and the House will know that all questions of monarchy or republic or leftism or rightism are strictly subordinate to the main purpose we have in mind.
In one place we support a King, in another a Communist, There is no attempt by us to enforce particular ideologies. We only want to beat the enemy, and then, in happy and serene peace, let the best expression be given by the will the people.
For a long time past the Foreign Secretary and I have labored with all our strength to try to bring about a resumption of relations between the Soviet Government and the Polish Government which we recognised, and have always recognized, since the days of General Sikorski.
Refuses to Shirk Task
We were conscious of the difficulties of our task, and some may say that we should have been wiser not to attempt it. We cannot accept that view. We are an ally of both governments. We went to war because Germany made an unprovoked attack upon our ally, Poland. We have signed a twenty years' treaty with our ally, the Soviet Union, and this treaty is the foundation of our policy.
Polish forces are fighting with our armies and have recently distinguished themselves remarkably in Italy. Polish forces under Russian guidance are also fighting with the Soviet armies against the common enemy. Our efforts to bring about a renewal of relations between the Polish Government in London and the Soviet have not succeeded. We deeply regret that fact, and we must take care to say nothing that would make an agreement more difficult in the future. I must repeat that an essential part of any arrangement is the regulation of the Polish eastern frontier, and that in return for any withdrawals made by Poland in that quarter she should receive other territories at the expense of Germany which will give her an ample seaboard and a good, adequate and reasonable homeland in which the Polish (nation can safely dwell.
We must stress that we are all engaged in the struggle with the common foe and that nothing can surpass the bravery of our Polish allies in Italy, on the sea and in the air, and in the heroic resistance of the underground movement to the Germans.
I have seen over here men who came only a few days before from Poland and have told how they are under orders of the present Polish Government in London. I am most anxious that this underground movement shall not clash with the advancing Russian armies, but should help.
Orders have been sent by the Polish Government in London that the underground movement is to help the Russian armies in every way possible. There are many ways possible whereby guerrillas can be of assistance, and we must trust that statesmanship will find some way through.
I have an impression that things are not so bad as they may appear on the surface between Russia and Poland- I need not say that we, and I think I might add, the United States, would welcome any arrangement between Russia and Poland, however brought about; whether directly between the Powers concerned, or with the help of His Majesty's Government or any other Government.
No Question of Price
There is no question of price on our part, but only sincere goodwill to both, and an earnest and anxious aspiration for the solution of a problem fraught with grave consequences to Europe and the harmony of the Grand Alliance.
Meantime our relations with the Soviet and Polish Governments remain as stated and regulated by public statements which have been repeated from this bench during the course of the present war.
I leave this question, and I trust that if it is dealt with in debate, those who deal with it will always consider what we wanted, namely, a united action of all Poles with all Russians against all Germans.
We have all rejoiced at the skillful and brilliant Fighting French, Moroccan and Algerian divisions brilliantly led, as they have been, by their officers in the heart-shaking battle to which I have referred and which is now at its climax.
The French Committee of National Liberation in Algiers have the credit of having prepared these troops, which were armed and equipped by the Unified States under President Roosevelt's personal decision. The French Committee have also placed at the full service of the Allies its powerful navy, including the Richelieu, one of the finest battleships in the world.
They guide and govern a vast empire, all of the strategic points of which are freely placed at the disposal of the United Nations. They have a powerful underground army
in France, sometimes called the Maquis and sometimes the Underground Army of the Interior, which may be called upon to play an important part before the end of the war.
There is no doubt that this political entity, the French National Committee of Liberation, provides and directs forces at the present time which, in the struggle against Hitler, give it fourth place in the Grand Alliance.
The reason why the United States and Great Britain have not been able to recognize it as the government of France or even as the provisional government of France is because we are not sure it represents the French nation in the same way as the Governments of Britain, the United States and Soviet Russia represent the whole body of their people.
The Committee will, of course, exercise leadership in the matter of law and order in the liberated area of France I under supervision, while the military exigencies last, of the Supreme Allied Commander in Chief.
Wants More Information
But we do not wish to commit ourselves at this stage to imposing a government on any part of France which might fall under our control without more knowledge than we now possess of the situation in the interior of France. At the same tube, I must make it clear that we must have no dealings with the Vichy Government or with anyone tainted with that organization, because they have decided to follow the path of collaboration with our enemies and many of them have definitely desired and worked for German victory.
In Norway and the Low Countries it is different, for there we shall rind mat the community of lawful government is maintained by Governments which we recognize and with whom we are in intimate relations.
The Governments of King Haakon and Queen Wilhelmina are lawfully founded Governments with perfect and unbroken continuity and should our liberating armies enter those countries we feel that we should deal with them and also with the Belgian and Danish Governments as far as possible, although their sovereigns are prisoners.
On the other hand, we are not able to take the decision, at this time, to treat the French Committee of National Liberation, or the French Provisional Government, as it has been called, as the full, final and lawful embodiment of the French Republic. It may be that the Committee itself will be able to aid us in the solution of these riddles. And I think their decree governing their future action constitutes the most forceful and helpful step in that direction.
With the full approval of the President of the United States, I have invited General de Gaulle to pay us a visit over here in the near future.
I have just received a telegram from Mr. Duff Cooper [British Minister] in Algiers saying he will be very glad to come. There is nothing like talking things over and seeing where we can get to. I hope that he will bring some members of his Government with him so that the whole matter can be reviewed.
As this war has progressed it has become less ideological in its character, in my opinion. The Fascist power in Italy has been overthrown and will, in a reasonable period of time, be completely expunged, mainly by the Italian democracy themselves. If there is anything left over after that, we will look after it.
Changes in Soviet Russia
Profound changes have taken place in Soviet Russia. The Trotskyite form of communism has been completely wiped out.
The victories of the Russian armies have been attended by a great rise in strength of the Russian state and a remarkable broadening of its views. The religious side of Russian life has had a wonderful rebirth. The discipline and military etiquette of the Russian armies are unsurpassed.
There is a new national anthem, the music of which Marshal Stalin sent me and which I have asked the BBC to play on the frequent occasions when there are great Russian victories to celebrate.
The terms offered by Russia to Rumania make no suggestion of altering the standards of society in that country and were in many respects, if not all, remarkably generous. Russia has been very patient with Finland. The Comintern has been abolished—that is sometimes forgotten.
Quite recently some of our representatives from the Ministry of Information were allowed to make a considerable tour in Russia and found opportunities of seeing for themselves what they liked. They found an atmosphere of candid friendliness and keen desire to see British films and hear of our country and what it is doing in the war. Children in schools were being informed about the war on the seas and of its difficulties and perils and how the northern convoys got through to Russia. There seemed a great desire among the people that Britain and Russia should be friends.
These are marked departures from conceptions which were held some years ago for reasons we can all understand.
Affirms Unity With Russia
We have no need to look back to the past and to add up a tale and tally of recriminations. Many terrible things have happened, but we began thirty years ago marching forward with the Russians in battle against the German tyranny of the Kaiser then. We are now marching with them, and I trust we shall until all forms of German tyranny have been extirpated.
As to nazism, the other ideology, we intend to wipe that out utterly, however drastic may be the methods required. I We are all agreed on that in this House, I think, whatever our political views or doctrines may be. Throughout the whole of the British Dominions and the United States and all the United Nations there is only one opinion about that.
For the rest, whatever may be said of former days, there is nothing which has occurred which should in any way make us regret the twenty years' treaty we have signed with the Russians and which will be a dominating factor in the relations which we shall have with them.
I see in some quarters that I am expected today to lay out quite plainly and decisively the future plan of world organization and also to set the Atlantic Charter in its exact and true relation to subsequent declarations and current events. It is easier to ask such questions than to answer them.
We are working with thirty-three united nations, and in particular, with two great allies, who, in some forms of power, far exceed the British Empire. Taking everything into consideration, including men and money, in the war effort and expanse of territory we can claim to be the equal of these great powers but not, in my view, superior.
As the head of the British Government or, I may add, as speaking to this House, as a most respected institution in the Grand Alliance, it would be a great mistake for me or the House to take it on ourselves to lay down the law for all these countries, including two great powers with whom we have to work if the world is to be brought back into a good condition.
Britain's Post-War Role
This small island with this marvelous structure of states and dependencies which it has gathered around it will, if we all hold together, occupy a worthy place in the vanguard
of nations, and it is idle to suppose that we are the only people who are to prescribe what all the other countries for their own good are to do.
Many other ideas and forces come into play, and nothing could be more unwise than for the meeting of Prime Ministers, for instance, to prescribe the way that all countries should have to go.
Consultations always are proceeding between the three at powers and others and every effort is being made to explore the future to resolve difficulties and to obtain the greatest measure of common agreement. A few things have already become quite clear and were very prominent at the conference just concluded.
The first is that we must fight on all together until Germany is forced to capitulate and until Nazidom is extirpated and the Nazi party is stripped of all continuing power of doing evil.
Next is that the Atlantic Charter remains the guiding signpost, expressing the vast body of opinion among all the powers now fighting together against tyranny.
The third point is that the Atlantic Charter in no way binds us about the future of Germany. It has no quality of a bargain or contract with our enemy. It was no offer to the Germans to surrender. If it had been an offer, that offer would have been rejected.
But the principle of unconditional surrender which has also been promulgated will be adhered to as far as Nazi Germany and Japan are concerned, and that principle itself wipes away all idea of anything like Mr. Wilson's Fourteen Points being brought up by the Germans after their defeat, claiming they surrendered in consideration of those Fourteen Points.
I have repeatedly said that unconditional surrender gives the enemy no rights, but it relieves us from no duty. Justice will have to be done and retribution will fall upon the wicked and cruel. Miscreants who set out to subjugate first Europe and then the world must be punished. So must their agents who in so many countries have perpetrated horrible crimes. They must be brought to face the judgment of the populations they have outraged, to the very scenes of their atrocities.
No Guarantee to Reich
here is no question of Germany enjoying any guarantee of any kind that she will not undergo territorial changes if it should seem that the making of such changes would render more secure and more lasting the peace of Europe.
Scarred and armed with experience, we intend to take better measures this time than could previously have been conceived to prevent a renewal in the life-time of our children or our grandchildren of the horrible destruction of human values which has marked the last and present World Wars.
We intend to set up a world order and an organization equipped with all necessary attributes of power in order to prevent future wars or the planning of them in advance by restless and ambitious nations. For this purpose of preventing wars there must be a world-controlling council. I am not talking about our purposes, but for the purpose of preventing wars there must be a world council comprising the greatest states which emerge victorious from this war who will be obligated to keep within certain minimum standards of armaments for the purpose of preserving peace.
There must also be a world assembly of powers whose relations to the world executive or controlling power for the purpose of maintaining peace I am in no position to define. If I did I should be stepping outside the bounds which are proper to us and our allies.
The relations of these bodies and their relations with each other can only be settled after the formidable foes we are now facing have been beaten and reduced to complete submission. It would be presumption for any one power to try to prescribe in precise detail exactly what solution we found. The mere attempt for us to do so and to put forward what is a majority view on this and that might prejudice us in gaining consideration for our arguments when the time comes, and I shall not even attempt to parade the many questions and difficulties which will arise and which are at present in all our minds.
Anyone can write down on paper at least a dozen large questions of this kind: Should there be united forces of nations or should there be a world police, and so on? There are other matters of highly interesting character which should be discussed, but it would be stepping out of our place in the forward march for us to go beyond the gradual formulation of opinion and ideas which are continuously going on inside the British Commonwealth and in contact with our principal allies.
We must not suppose, however, that these questions cannot be answered and that these difficulties cannot be overcome, and that complete victory will not be a powerful aid to the solution of all problems and that good-will and practical common sense which exists in the majority of men and the majority of nations will not find its full expression in that new structure which must regulate the forces of every people as far as they may clash with another people. The future toward which we are marching across bloody fields and frightful manifestations of destruction must surely be based upon broad and simple virtues and upon the nobility of mankind. It must be based upon a rule of law which upholds the principle of justice and fair play, which protects the weak against the strong when the weak have justice on their side.
There must be an end to the predatory exploitation of nationalistic ambitions. This does not mean that nations should not be entitles to rejoice in their traditions, in all the splendor of their achievements, but they will not be allowed by armed forces to gratify appetites of aggrandizement at the expense of other countries just because they are smaller and weaker or less well prepared; and measures will be taken to have ample armies, fleets and air forces available to prevent anything of that kind coming about. We must undoubtedly in our world structure embody a great deal of all we have gained for the world by the structure and form of the League of Nations. We must arm our world organization and make sure within the limits assigned to it that it has overwhelming military power.
We must remember we shall all be hard put to it to gain a living, to repair the devastation which has been wrought and to give all the wider life and more comfortable life which is so deeply desired.
We must strive to preserve the reasonable rights and liberties of the individual.
We must respect the rights and opinions of others while holding firmly to our own faith and conviction. There must be room in this great new structure of the world for the happiness and prosperity of all, and in the end it must be capable of giving happiness and prosperity even to the guilty and vanquished nations.
There must be room within this great world organization for an organism like the British Empire and Commonwealth, as we now call it, and I trust there will be room also for a fraternal association of the British Commonwealth and the United States.
We are bound by our twenty years* treaty with Russia, and besides this—for my part, I hope to have deserved to be called a good European—we should try to raise the glorious Continent of Europe, parent of so many powerful states, from its present miserable condition as a kind of volcano of strife and turmoil, to its old glory as the family of nations and as the vital expression of Christendom.
I am sure these great entities I have mentioned will in no way disturb the general purpose of a world organization. The British Empire, the conception of a Europe truly united, a fraternal association with the United States—they will in no way disturb the general purpose of a world organization.
In fact, they may help powerfully to make us run smoothly. I hope and pray all this may be established and that we may be led to exert ourselves to secure those permanent and glorious achievements which alone can make amends to mankind for all the miseries and toils which have been their lot and for all the heroism and sacrifices which are their glory.