British Pathé – War (1939)

Adolf Hitler rejects repeated calls for peace and invades Poland leading to an ineivtable war as Britain, Holland, and France prepare for oncoming battles.

The responsibility lies on the shoulders of one man. By his latest act of naked aggression, Hitlers has committed a crime – not only against Poland – but against the whole human race. Against the mothers and children leaving the cities of Britain under the great evacuation scheme with a smoothness and speed that avoids a single accident or delay.

As they set out on what to them is a great adventure, already German troops, guns, and planes have crossed the Polish border to kill and destroy. So Britain prepares to fight and never in our history have we been so united in knowing that our cause is just.

We have no material interest in the quarrel between Germany and Poland but we shall be fighting for something that is vital to our life and to the life of all civilised people. For, in a world where the rights of the weak and the honour of the said word can be overruled by the high hand of military power, there is no tolerable life for nations or for people. So, in spite of our hatred of war, we must meet force with force and as our children move from the crowded cities, to the kind care of new-found friends in safer places, what a tragic contrast to the preparation for the horrible struggle that may lie ahead.

Terrible is the responsibility of the leader of the German Nazis for a catastrophe that will cause untold suffering and may set back civilisation perhaps for centuries.

He has rejected every appeal for a peaceful settlement from the Pope whose followers regard him as the vicar of Christ on earth, from the king of the Belgians who’s youth was shaped by the tragic years of the last war, from the President of the United States – ardent fighter for peace and from the Queen of the Netherlands.

All have been rebuffed by the will of that one man in his his senseless criminal greed for power. The German bombers hoop over Polish land. Polish cities and harbours are attacked. Even the capital of Warsaw itself itself is bombed. But Britain is ready. To quote the Prime Minister, the time for words is over. The time for action has come.

The silence of preparation falls on London. Ministers assemble for another fateful cabinet meeting even as Germany goes through the last diplomatic twists and turns in a final effort to justify the aggressive policy which it is determined to pursue.

Poland’s ambassador for Britain calls at No. 10 Downing Street to report that Warsaw has been bombed. A little later, the German charges affair comes to deny the bombing and he hardly seems to know which way to turn. But the denial was unnecessary for later still comes an official confirmation of the raid. The king visits the Prime Minister in Downing Street for His Majesty decided that Mr. Chamberlain was too busy to be called to Buckingham Palace. And the few hundreds who cheer the king in Downing Street are a symbol of the millions who stand behind him all over the world.

As Mrs. Chamberlain and the Prime Minister drive to the Commons, the house assembles for a fateful last debate before Britain declares war, not on the German people but on the leaders of the Nazi regime. In this hour, there is not one act of disunity between all parties. All are determined that the aggressors should not escape the penalty for the monstrous crime that has been committed.

All over Europe, peace loving peoples await the dread news; in Holland which remained neutral last time but may find it harder to do so again. Holland prepares her supplies of food, calls out her reserves to defend her frontiers for Holland knows that since Hitler has chosen war, in spite of all the chances given him to avoid it, war there must be. And Holland builds new battleships for her further protection if needs be.

And as the neutral nations prepare, how much more does the responsibility to do so lie upon us and our Allies who are facing the hardest task in our history. The Polish army is already engaging the invader and Poland is ready.

France has made every preparation on the chance that the inhuman ambition of the ruler of Nazi Germany would rush blindly to catastrophe and France is ready too.

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