It was a dark time. October, 1940.
The French colossus of Napoleon and the proud juggernaut of the Great War had succumbed to the Nazi Blitzkrieg in June of 1940. Now, four months later, the fiery-hearted, passionate French chafed under the humiliating yoke of the Nazis in the rump state of Vichy France. The terrible words of the former French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud echoed in the ears of the citizens.
“[If HItler won the war] it would be the Middle Ages again, but not illuminated by the mercy of Christ”.
Across the English Channel, the British fared little better. In their fourth month of the Battle of Britain, Hitler’s Luftwaffe had changed their approach from strategic bombing to terror bombing lighting up congested cities with relentless bombing night after night. Hitler had no mercy especially to the defiant.
And the British were defiant.
Having rallied his nation to furious resistance, Prime Minster Winston Churchill bucked his security detail, climbed to the tallest roof outside his bunker in order to witness the melee in the ski between the valiant Royal Air Force and the malevolent Luftwaffe. And then, he gritted his teeth, clenched his fists and went inside to broadcast this message of hope… to France.
God Protect France.
Frenchmen! For more than 30 years in peace and war I have marched with you. I am marching still along the same road. Tonight I speak to you at your firesides, wherever you may be, or whatever your fortunes are: I repeat the prayer around the louis d’or [French coin], “Dieu protege la France”. Here at home in England, under the the fire of the Bosche we do not forget the ties and links that unite us to France…
Here in London, which Herr Hitler says he will reduce to ashes, and which his aeroplanes are now bombarding, our people are bearing up unflinchingly. Our Air Force has more than held its own. We are waiting for the long promised invasion. So are the fishes…
Herr Hitler is not thinking only of stealing other people’s territories, or flinging gobbets of them to his little confederate [Mussolini]. I tell you truly what you must believe when I say this evil man, this monstrous abortion of hatred and defeat, is resolved on nothing less than the complete wiping out of the French nation, and the disintegration of its whole life and future. By all kinds of sly and savage means, he is plotting and working to quench forever the fountain of characteristic French culture and of French inspiration to the world. All Europe, if he has his way, will be reduced to one uniform Boche-land, to be exploited, pillaged, and bullied by his Nazi gangsters. You will excuse my speaking frankly because this is not a time to mince words. It is not defeat that France will now be made to suffer at German hands, but the doom of complete obliteration. Army, Navy, Air Force, religion, law, language, culture, institutions, literature, history, tradition – all are to be effaced by the brute strength of a triumphant Army and the scientific low cunning of a ruthless Police Force.Frenchmen – rearm your spirits before it is too late…Never will I believe that the soul of France is dead. Never will I believe that her place amongst the greatest nations of the world has been lost for ever! All these schemes and crimes of Herr Hitler’s are bringing upon him and upon all who belong to his system a retribution which many of us will live to see. The story is not yet finished, but it will not be so long. We are on his track, and so are our friends across the Atlantic Ocean, and your friends across the Atlantic Ocean. If he cannot destroy us, we will surely destroy him and all his gang, and all their works. Therefore, have hope and faith, for all will come right…
Remember that we shall never stop, never weary, and never give in, and that our whole people and Empire have vowed themselves to the task of cleansing Europe from the Nazi pestilence and saving the world from the new Dark Ages…We seek to beat the life and soul out of Hitler and Hitlerism. That alone – that all the time – that to the end…
Good night then: Sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come. Brightly it will shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.
Vive la France!
It is a dark time now. In France and in the world.
It is time to call this menace for what it is, treat it for what it is, and confront it for what it is: a ruthless ideological movement set on eradicating any and all who stand in its way. It is time to recognize this movement’s intent which is cultural obliteration and draconian enforcement of its worldview. It is time for courageous leadership. It is time for articulating strategy in tandem with sorrow. It is time to stand up.
Irishman Edmund Burke once firmly observed,
“When bad men combine, the good must associate, else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”
Winston Churchill knew loss. And he keenly withstood the terror and ruthlessness of his enemy. But he was resolute. And defiant.
Never stop, never weary, never give in.
Have hope and faith, for all will come right.
The story is not yet finished.
God Protect France