tv Reel America Winston Churchill Iron Curtain Speech - 1946 CSPAN April 1, 2021 8:32am-9:27am EDT
to the british commonwealth and empire. this agreement is more effective than many of those which have often been made under formal alliances. this principle should be extended to all the british commonwealths with full reciprocity. thus, whatever happens, and thus only shall we be secure ourselves and able to work together for what is dear to us
and bode no ill toward any. eventually, eventually there may come. i feel eventually, that will come, the principle of common citizenry. but that we may be content to leave to destiny without stretched arms, many of us can already see. >> there is an important question we must ask ourselves. would a special relationship between the united states and the british commonwealth be inconsistent with our overriding loyalties to the world organization? probably the only means by which that organization will achieve its full stature and strength, there are already the special united states relations with
canada, which i just mentioned. and there are the relations between the united states and the south america republics. we have also -- we british have also our 20 years of collaboration and mutual resistance with soviet russia. i agree with the foreign secretary of great britain. that it might well be 50 years treaty so far as we are concerned. we aim at nothing but mutual assistance and collaboration. the british have an alliance with portugal unbroken since 1384, and which produced fruitful results at critical moments in the late war. none of these clash with the general interest of a world agreement, or a world
organization. on the contrary, they help it. “in my father's house are many mansions.” special associations between members of the united nations which have no aggressive point against any other country, which harbor no design incompatible with the charter of the united nations, far from being harmful, are beneficial and, as i believe, indispensable. i spoke earlier of the temple of peace. workmen from all countries must build that temple. if two of the workmen know each other particularly well and are old friends, if their families are inter-mingled, and if they have “faith in each other's purpose, hope in each other's future and charity towards each
other's shortcomings” to quote some good words i read here the other day, why cannot they work together at the common task as friends and partners? why cannot they share their tools and thus increase each other's working powers? indeed they must do so or else the temple may not be built, or, being built, it may collapse, and we shall all be proved again unteachable and have to go and try to learn again for a third time in a school of war, incomparably more rigorous than that from which we have just been released. the dark ages may return, the stone age may return on the gleaming wings of science, and what might now shower immeasurable material blessings upon mankind, may even bring about its total destruction.
beware, i say; time may be short. do not let us take the course of allowing events to drift along until it is too late. if there is to be a fraternal association of the kind i have described, with all the extra strength and security which both our countries can derive from it, let us make sure that that great fact is known to the world, and that it plays its part in steadying and stabilizing the foundations of peace. there is the path of wisdom. prevention is better than cure. a shadow has fallen upon the scenes so lately lighted by the allied victory. nobody knows what soviet russia
and its communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their expansive and proselytizing tendencies. i have a strong admiration and regard for the valiant russian people and for my wartime comrade, marshal stalin. there is deep sympathy and goodwill in britain -- and i doubt not here also -- towards the peoples of all the russias and a resolve to persevere through many differences and rebuffs in establishing lasting friendships. we understand the russian need to be secure on her western
frontiers by the removal of all possibility of german aggression. we welcome russia to her rightful place among the leading nations of the world. we welcome her flag upon the seas. above all, we welcome constant, frequent and growing contacts between the russian people and our own people on both sides of the atlantic. it is my duty however, for i am sure you would not wish me to state the facts as i see them to you, to place before you certain facts about the present position in europe. from stettin in the baltic to trieste in the adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.
behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of central and eastern europe. warsaw, berlin, prague, vienna, budapest, belgrade, bucharest and sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what i must call the soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from moscow. athens alone -- greece with its immortal glories -- is free to
decide its future at an election under british, american and french observation. the russian-dominated polish government has been encouraged to make enormous and wrongful inroads upon germany, and mass expulsions of millions of germans on a scale grievous and undreamed of are now taking place. the communist parties, which were very small in all these eastern states of europe, have been raised to pre-eminence and power far beyond their numbers and are seeking everywhere to obtain totalitarian control. police governments are prevailing in nearly every case, and so far, except in czechoslovakia, there is no true democracy. turkey and persia are both profoundly alarmed and disturbed at the claims which are being made upon them and at the
pressure being exerted by the moscow government. an attempt is being made by the russians in berlin to build up a quasi-communist party in their zone of occupied germany by showing special favors to groups of left-wing german leaders. at the end of the fighting last june, the american and british armies withdrew westward, in accordance with an earlier agreement, to a depth at some points of 150 miles upon a front of nearly 400 miles in order to allow our russian allies to occupy this vast expanse of territory which the western democracies had conquered. if now the soviet government tries, by separate action, to build up a pro-communist germany in their areas, this will cause
new serious difficulties in the american and british zones, and will give the defeated germans the power of putting themselves up to auction between the soviets and the western democracies. whatever conclusions may be drawn from these facts -- and facts they are -- this is certainly not the liberated europe we fought to build up. nor is it one which contains the essentials of permanent peace. the safety of the world requires a new unity in europe, from which no nation should be permanently outcast. it is from the quarrels of the strong parent races in europe that the world wars we have witnessed, or which occurred in former times, have sprung. twice in our own lifetime we
have seen the united states, against their wishes and their traditions, against arguments, the force of which it is impossible not to comprehend, twice we have seen them drawn by irresistible forces, into these wars in time to secure the victory of the good cause, but only after frightful slaughter and devastation have occurred. twice the united states has had to send several millions of its young men across the atlantic to find the war. but now war can find any nation, wherever it may dwell between dusk and dawn. surely we should work with conscious purpose for a grand pacification of europe, within the structure of the united
nations and in accordance with our charter. that i feel is an open cause of policy of very great importance. in front of the iron curtain which lies across europe are other causes for anxiety. in italy the communist party is seriously hampered by having to support the communist-trained marshal tito's claims to former italian territory at the head of the adriatic. nevertheless the future of italy hangs in the balance. again one cannot imagine a regenerated europe without a strong france. all my public life i have worked for a strong france and i never lost faith in her destiny, even in the darkest hours. i will not lose faith now.
[ applause ] however, in a great number of countries, far from the russian frontiers and throughout the world, communist fifth columns are established and work in complete unity and absolute obedience to the directions they receive from the communist center. except in the british commonwealth and in the united states where communism is in its infancy, the communist parties or fifth columns constitute a growing challenge and peril to christian civilization. these are sombre facts for anyone to have to recite on the morrow of a victory gained by so much splendid comradeship in
arms and in the cause of freedom and democracy. but we should be most unwise not to face them squarely while time remains. the outlook is also anxious in the far east and especially in manchuria. the agreement which was made at yalta, to which i was a party, was extremely favorable to soviet russia, but it was made at a time when no one could say that the german war might not extend all through the summer and autumn of 1945 and when the japanese war was expected to last for a further 18 months from the end of the german war. in this country you are all so
well-informed about the far east, and such devoted friends of china, that i do not need to expatiate on the situation there. i have felt bound to portray the shadow which, alike in the west and in the east, falls upon the world. i was a high minister at the time of the versailles treaty and a close friend of mr. lloyd-george, who was the head of the british delegation at versailles. i did not myself agree with many things that were done, but i have a very strong impression in my mind of that situation, and i find it painful to contrast it with that which prevails now. in those days there were high hopes and unbounded confidence that the wars were over, and that the league of nations would become all-powerful.
i do not see or feel that same confidence or even the same hopes in the haggard world at the present time. on the other hand i repulse the idea that a new war is inevitable, still more that it is imminent. it is because i am sure that our fortunes are still in our own hands and that we hold the power to save the future, that i feel the duty to speak out now that i have the occasion and the opportunity to do so. [ applause ] i do not believe that soviet russia desires war. what they desire is the fruits
of war and the indefinite expansion of their power and doctrines. but what we have to consider here today while time remains, is the permanent prevention of war and the establishment of conditions of freedom and democracy as rapidly as possible in all countries. our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them. they will not be removed by mere waiting to see what happens nor will they be removed by a policy of appeasement. what is needed is a settlement, and the longer this is delayed, the more difficult it will be and the greater our dangers will become. from what i have seen of our russian friends and allies during the war, i am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they
have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness. for that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. we cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength. if the western democracies stand together in strict adherence to the principles of the united nations charter, their influence for furthering those principles will be immense and no one is likely to molest them. if however they become divided or falter in their duty and if these all-important years are allowed to slip away then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all. last time i saw it all coming and cried aloud to my own
fellow countrymen and to the world, but no one paid attention. up until the year 1933 or even 1935, germany might have been saved from the awful fate which has overtaken her and we might all have been spared the miseries hitler let loose upon mankind. there never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely action than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. it could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot, and germany might be powerful, prosperous and honored today. but no one would listen and one by one we were all sucked into the awful whirlpool. we surely must not let that happen again. [ applause ]
this can only be achieved by reaching now, in 1946, a good understanding on all points with russia under the general authority of the united nations organization and by the maintenance of that good understanding through many peaceful years, by the world instrument, supported by the whole strength of the english-speaking world and all its connections. there is the solution which i respectfully offer to you in this address to which i have given the title “the sinews of peace.” let no man underrate the abiding power of the british empire and commonwealth.
[ applause ] because you see the 46 millions in our island harassed about their food supply, of which they only grow one half, even in war-time, or because we have difficulty in restarting our industries and export trade after six years of passionate war effort, do not suppose that we shall not come through these dark years of privation as we have come through the glorious years of agony. [ applause ] do not suppose that half a century from now you will not see 70 or 80 million of britons
spread about the world and united in defence of our traditions, our way of life, and of the world causes which you and we espouse. [ applause ] if the population of the english-speaking commonwealths be added to that of the united states with all that such cooperation implies in the air, on the sea, all over the globe and in science and in industry, and in moral force, there will be no quivering, precarious balance of power to offer its temptation to ambition or adventure. on the contrary, there will be an overwhelming assurance of security. [ applause ]
if we adhere faithfully to the charter of the united nations and walk forward in sedate and sober strength seeking no one's land or treasure, seeking to lay no arbitrary control upon the thoughts of men. if all british moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear. not only for us, but for all. not only for our time, but for a century to come. [ applause ]
[ applause ] weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. tonight, h.w. brands talks about humor in the white house. from george washington to donald trump, he considers how funny our chief executives have been or not. and whether they've used humor to their advantage. the gerald h. ford presidential foundation and library and museum co-hosted the event. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern. and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3.
communist imperialism is a 1962 pepperdine college cold war film that documents soviet territorial expansion and warns viewers of the threat of international communism. primarily focused on the post-world war ii increase in soviet global influence, it details how countries were influenced by leaders in moscow. ♪♪