TracesOfWar needs your help! Every euro, pound or dollar you contribute greatly supports the continuation of this website. Go to and donate!

Words That History Will Remember

The War Illustrated, Volume 1, No. 1, Page 28, September 16, 1939.

A Record of the Vital Declarations and Solemn Statements of the World's Leaders.

Wednesday, Aug. 23, 1939

King Leopold of the Belgians:

Broadcasting in the name of the King of Denmark, the President of Finland, the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg, the King of Norway, the Queen of Holland, and the King of Sweden he said:

“The world is living in such a period of tension that there is a risk that all international cooperation should become. ... Lack, of confidence reigns everywhere. But there is no people which wants to send its children to their deaths. ...”

“We want peace with respect for the rights of all nations. It is our wish that the differences between nations should be submitted to conciliation in a spirit of goodwill. ... Let those in whose hand rest the destiny of the peoples apply themselves to settle peacefully the differences which separate them.”

After the announcement of the German-Soviet Pact the British Cabinet announced that “such an event would in no way affect their obligation to Poland which they repeatedly stated in public and which they determined to fulfil.”

Thursday, Aug. 24

Mr. Chamberlain in House of Commons:

“The international position has steadily deterioriated, until today we find ourselves confronted with the imminent peril of war. ... Nothing that we have done, or that we propose to do, menaces the legitimate interests of Germany. It is no act of menace to prepare to help friends to defend themselves against force. ...”

“War between our two countries, admitted on all sides to be the greatest calamity that could occur, is not desired either by our own people or the German people. We do not think of asking Germany to sacrifice her national interests, but we cannot agree that national interests can only be secured by the shedding of blood or the destruction of the independence of other states. ...”

“We want to see established an international order based upon mutual understanding and mutual confidence and we cannot build such an order unless it conforms to certain principles which are essential to the establishment of confidence and trust. These principles must include the observance of international undertakings when they have once been entered into, and the renunciation of force in the settlement of differences. ...”

“If, despite all our efforts to find the way of peace, we find ourselves forced to embark upon a struggle which is bound to be fraught with suffering and misery for all mankind and the end of which no man can foresee, if that should happen, we shall not be fighting for the political future of a far-away city in an foreign land; we shall be fighting for the preservation of those principles of which I spoken, the destruction of which would involve the destruction of all possibility of peace and security for the peoples of the world. ..”

The Rt. Hon. Arthur Greenwood in House of Commons:

“... The peril of war comes not from us. No democratic country will make war, but Britain, with others, will defend their own liberties and the liberties of those who are threatened by force, realizing that a threat to liberty of one is a threat to liberty of all. The aggressor must know that in our view liberty, like peace, is indivisible. ... “

Friday, Aug 25

President Roosevelt's appeal to Hitler:

“To the message which I sent you last April I have received no reply, but because my confident belief that the cause of world peace—which is the cause of humanity itself—rises above all other considerations, I am again addressing myself to you, with the hope that the war which impends and the consequent disaster to all peoples may yet be averted. ...”

“The people of the United States are as one in their opposition to policies of military conquest and domination. They are as one in rejecting the thesis that any ruler or any people posses the right to achieve their ends or objectives through taking of action which will plunge countless millions into war, and which will bring distress and suffering to every nation of the world, belligerent and neutral, when such ends and objectives, so far as they are just and reasonable, can be satisfied through the processes of peaceful negotiation or by resort to judicial arbitration. ...”

Saturday, Aug 26

President Roosevelt's second appeal to Hitler:

“Countless human lives can yet be saved, and hope may still be restored that the nations of the modern world may even now construct the foundation for a peaceful and happier relationship if you and the Government of the German Reich will agree to the pacific means of settlement accepted by the Government of Poland.”

M. Daladier's Letter to Herr Hitler:

“... up to the present there has been nothing which could prevent a peaceful solution of the international crisis with honour and dignity for all people if there is an equal will to peace on both sides. ...”

Herr Hitler's Letter to M. Daladier:

“Danzig and the Corridor must return to Germany. The Macedonian conditions at our Eastern frontier must be removed. I see no way of being able to persuade Poland, which shields itself from attack under protection of its guarantees, to accept a peaceful solution. But I would despair of an honourable future for my people if, in such circumstances, we were not determined to solve the question in one way or an another.”

Tuesday, Aug. 29

Mr. Chamberlain in the Commons:

“The British people are said sometimes to be slow to make up their minds, but having made them up they do not readily let go”

Friday, Sept. 1

Mr. Chamberlain in the Commons:

“No one, I think, can say that the Government could have done more to try and keep open the way for an honourable and equitable settlement of the dispute between Germany and Poland. Nor have we neglected any means of making it crystal clear to the German Government that if they insisted on using force again in the manner in which they had used it in the past we were resolved to oppose them by force. Now that all the relevant documents are being made public we shall stand at the bar of history knowing that the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe lies on the shoulders of one man. The German Chancellor has not hesitated to plunge the world into misery in order to serve his own senseless ambition. ...”

“It appears to the Governments of the United Kingdom and France that by their action the German Government have created conditions—namely, an aggressive act of force against Polish territory which threatens the independence of Poland—calling for the implementation by the Governments of the United Kingdom and France of the undertaking given to Poland.”

“Unless the German Government are prepared to give his Majesty's Government satisfactory assurances that the German Government have suspended all aggressive action against Poland, and are prepared promptly to withdraw their forces from Polish territory, his Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom will without hesitation, fulfil their obligation to Poland. ...”

"We have no quarrel with the German people except that they allow themselves to be governed by a Nazi government. As long as that government exists and pursues the methods it has so persistently followed during the last two years there will be no peace in Europe. ...”

The Rt. Hon. Arthur Greenwood in the House of Commons:

“... I now reaffirm for the third time in this House during the present crisis that British labour stands by its pledged word. At whatever cost, in the interests of liberty of the world in the future we are to use all our resources to defend ourselves and others against aggression. ...”

“Herr Hitler has put himself grievously in the wrong. He has become the arch-enemy of mankind. He has been guilty, not merely of the basest and gravest treachery to this Government and this people, but he has been guilty of the basest treachery of all peoples to whom in the past he has given promises.”

“I never thought that I should quote from a document of which Herr Hitler was the author, with approval, but in the proclamation to the army which he issued at six o'clock this morning, he said: 'In order to put an end to this lunacy I have no other choice than to meet force with force from now om. ..'”

“I was glad when the Prime Minister used words which I have used in our official declaration—'We have no quarrel with the German people,' but while we have no passion against the people we shall enter this struggle with a grim determination to overthrow and destroy that system of government which has trampled on freedom, crucified men and women, and which has bought the world back to the jack-boot of the old Prussian régime.”

[Further Declarations and Statements appear in later pages.]


Previous article

And These Are They Who Sought Peace


And These Are They Who Sought Peace

Neville Chamberlain, Britain's Prime Minister, comes first among those who made a noble stand for peace. Queen Wilhelmina of Holland joined in the appeal of King Albert and the Oslo Powers to Hitle

Read more

Next article

Words That History Will Remember


Words That History Will Remember

A Record of the Declarations and Solemn Statements of the World's Leaders. (Continued from page 28) Friday, Sept. 1 Hitler in a speech to the Reichstag: “I am determined to solve (1) the Dan

Read more