October 16, 1938 – Winston Churchill: An Address To The American People – combined networks – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
On October 16, 1938, Member of Parliament Winston Churchill broadcast directly to the United States. The speech is an impassioned appeal for greater American involvement in Europe in the wake of the Munich Crisis and the issue of appeasement to Adolf Hitler for peace in the region.
Winston Churchill: “All the world wishes for peace and security. Have we gained it by the sacrifice of the Czechoslovak Republic. Here was the model democratic State of Central Europe, a country where minorities were treated better than anywhere else. It has been deserted, destroyed and devoured. It is now being digested. The question which is of interest to a lot of ordinary people, common people, is whether this destruction of the Czechoslovak Republic will bring upon the world a blessing or a curse.
We must all hope it will bring a blessing; that after we have averted our gaze for a while from the process of subjugation and liquidation, everyone will breathe more freely; that a load will be taken off our chests; we shall be able to say to ourselves: “Well, that’s out of the way, anyhow. Now let’s get on with our regular daily life.” But are these hopes well founded or are we merely making the best of what we had not the force and virtue to stop? That is the question that the English-speaking peoples in all their lands must ask themselves today. Is this the end, or is there more to come?
There is another question which arises out of this. Can peace, goodwill, and confidence be built upon submission to wrong-doing backed by force?
One may put this question in the largest form. Has any benefit or progress ever been achieved by the human race by submission to organised and calculated violence? As we look back over the long story of the nations we must see that, on the contrary, their glory has been founded upon the spirit of resistance to tyranny and injustice, especially when these evils seemed to be backed by heavier force. Since the dawn of the Christian era a certain way of life has slowly been shaping itself among the Western peoples, and certain standards of conduct and government have come to be esteemed. After many miseries and prolonged confusion, there arose into the broad light of day the conception of the right of the individual; his right to be consulted in the government of his country; his right to invoke the law even against the State itself. Independent Courts of Justice were created to affirm and inforce this hard-won custom. Thus was assured throughout the English-speaking world, and in France by the stern lessons of the Revolution, what Kipling called, “Leave to live by no man’s leave underneath the law.” Now in this resides all that makes existence precious to man, and all that confers honour and health upon the State.”
Here is the complete address, as it was broadcast to the U.S. and carried by all the American radio networks on October 16, 1938.