On the historic date of July 23, 1942, while in London the Americans and British leaders at combined staff Headquarters had finally decided to launch the North African campaign. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, in Washington, broadcast over all national radio networks his momentous address on "The War and Human Freedom." The following extracts sum up the causes of war and show clearly the cause of the United States' participation in the North African landings:

"From Berlin and Tokyo the assault on human freedom has spread in ever-widening circles.... In all cases the invaders, before armed attack, set into motion every conceivable device of deceit, subversion, treachery, and corruption within the borders of the intended victim.

"As country after country, in Europe and in Asia, was attacked in this way, it became clear that no nation anywhere was immune, that for none was safety to be found in mere desire for peace, in avoidance of provocation, in neutrality, or in distance from the centers of assault....

"Today twenty-eight United Nations are fighting against the would-be conquerors and enslavers of the human race. We know what is at stake. By the barbarian invaders of today nothing is spared - neither life, nor morals, nor honor, nor virtue, nor pledges, nor the customs, the national institutions, even the religion of any people. Their aim is to sweep away every vestige of individual and national rights; to substitute, the world over, their unspeakable tyranny for the ways of life developed each for itself by the various nations; to make all mankind subservient to their will; to convert the two billions of the earth's inhabitants into abject victims and tools of their insatiable lust for power and dominion.

"We have seen their work in the countries they have invaded - murder of defenseless men, women, and children; rape, torture, and pillage, mass terrorization; the black system of hostages; starvation and deprivations that beggar description; the most thorough-going bondage the world has ever seen.

"This is the so-called "New Order" of Hitler and the Japanese war lords - an order as old as slavery - new only in the calculated thoroughness of its cruelty; in the depth of the degradation to which it subjects its victims; in the degree to which it has revived the worst practices of the darkest ages in history....

"In the plans of the new tyrants of the East and of the West, there is no freedom or hope for anyone. If there be some people who believe that they can expect from Hitler or the Japanese war lords greater measure of freedom than they now possess, they need only look at the firing squads in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Norway, France, Yugoslavia, at the concentration camps in Germany and Austria. They need only see the degradation of the


forced laborers torn from every occupied country. They can learn the fraudulent quality of that brand of "freedom" from the Chinese in Nanking, from the Filipinos in Manila, from the inhabitants of the East Indies.

"There is no chance for liberty for any people anywhere save through the victory of the free peoples. Never did a plainer duty to fight against its foes devolve upon all peoples who prize liberty and all who aspire it....

"We Americans are fighting today because we have been attacked. We are fighting, as I have said, to preserve our very existence.... We are forced to fight because we ignored the simple but fundamental fact that the price of peace and of the preservation of right and freedom among nations is the acceptance of international responsibilities.... (War began in 1931 when Japan invaded China....)

"Our enemies confront us with armed might in every part of the globe. We cannot win this war by standing at our borders and limiting ourselves to beating off attacks. Air, submarine, and other forms of assault can be effectively defeated only if those attacked seek out and destroy the sources of attack. We shall send all the aid that we can to our gallant allies. And we shall seek out our enemies and attack them at any and every point of the globe at which the destruction of the Axis forces can be accomplished most effectively, most speedily, and most certainly.

"We know the magnitude of the task before us. We know that its accomplishment will exact unlimited effort and unfaltering courage. However long the road we shall press on to the final victory....

"International desperadoes like individual bandits will not abandon outlawry voluntarily. They will only be stopped by force....

"A bitter armed attack on human freedom has aroused mankind to new heights of courage, determination, and moral strength. It has evoked a spirit of work, sacrifice, and cooperative effort. With that strength and with that spirit we shall win."

July 25, 1942


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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Rick Pitz, HyperWar Foundation