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Winston Churchill's "War Speech"



(BRUSSELS2) Great idea that Tallandier editions (Texto collection) had to republish Winston Churchill's speeches, in a bilingual edition (English – French), please. With a short introduction, very useful each time, written by Guillaume Piketty. The bilingual edition is delicious. Because Churchill uses his mother tongue simply, with precise and clear words. The tone sometimes seems more direct or abrupt than in French. And some of the sentences spoken can take on their full meaning, on this 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. Thus this speech delivered in the House of Commons on September 2, 3, during the declaration of war. “It’s not about fighting for Danzig or fighting for Poland. We are fighting to protect the whole world from the plague of Nazi tyranny and to defend what is most sacred to man. This is not a war for domination, for empire aggrandizement, or for material gain; This is not a war that would deprive a nation of its light or keep it from progress. It is essentially a war intended to establish and restore the dignity of man. »

Blood, tears. The Tory Churchill, supporter of a policy of firmness against Germany, has just agreed to join the government of Neville Chamberlain, to whom everything opposes him. However, he suggested that he return to the post of First Lord of the Admiralty – which he had occupied between 1911 and 1915. And the new minister had this sentence, which remained in history, and was subsequently taken up by others: “Winston is back“. Or this speech from May 13, 1940 when he had just been appointed Prime Minister: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat».

The battle is lost.
A few days later, on May 19, when the army corps of German General Guderian had just pushed the French forces on the Meuse, and the “battle rages in France and Flanders“, he has this sentence “ Our task is not only to win this battle but to win the war” – words taken up in another turn by De Gaulle a month later. But these speeches are not just sentences. It is also the story that we sometimes tend to forget like these words: “I have received from the leaders of the French Republic (…) the sacred assurance that, whatever happens, they will fight until the end, whether bitter or glorious. » This word will not be completely kept... But he maintains confidence in the French.

May God protect France.
In a rather pessimistic speech delivered on July 14, 1940, he made a real ode to France: “Some of us will live to see a Bastille Day when liberated France will once again rejoice in its greatness and glory, and will once again stand as the champion of freedom and human rights. When this dawn rises, because it will rise, the soul of France will turn with understanding and gratitude towards these French men and women, wherever they are, who, in the darkest hour, have not desperate for the Republic. » He will develop the Francophile fiber which animates him on October 21, 1940 in a “God protect France” vibrating with these words “ French people, come to your senses before it's too late! ».

Tragic moments before the denouement. But on August 20, 1940, there was a wild count of losses: “ 92 killed, wounded, prisoners and missing, including civilians”… Enough to thrill. And the story unfolds throughout the speeches: the Alliance with Russia, the disastrous times of 1941 and 1942, with its key word “ never give up “, then the period 1943-1944, happier, but which remains terrible. " Blood Price for Liberation “, he recalls on September 28, 1944, “There is no word to express the horror » on April 19, 1945 after the discovery of the extent of the concentration camps. Going through the key moments: D-Day, June 6, 1944, la
Yalta conference and the question of Poland, in February 1945 or capitulation and peace, May 8, 1945… Absolutely worth reading and rereading.

(Editions Taillandier, Texto collection, 410 p., 12 euros)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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