A few comparisons between Winston Churchill's "Their Finest Hour"
speech in the House of Commons, June 18, 1940 and some wisdom
C: What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over.
I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.
G: ...it cannot be doubted that when Denethor saw great forces
arrayed against him in Mordor, and more still being gathered,
he saw that which truly is.
C: The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us
G: Hardly has our strength sufficed to beat off the first great
assault. The next will be greater.
C: Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose
G: Now Sauron knows all this, and he knows that this precious thing
which he lost has been found again
C: If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life
of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
G: If it is destroyed, then he will fall; and his fall will be so low
that none can foresee his arising ever again... And so a great evil
of this world will be removed.
C: But if we fail, then the whole world... will sink into the abyss
of a new Dark Age
G: If he regains it, your valour is vain, and his victory will
be swift and complete: so complete that none can foresee the end
of it while this world lasts.
C: During the first four years of the last war the Allies experienced
nothing but disaster and disappointment. That was our constant fear:
one blow after another, terrible losses, frightful dangers.
Everything miscarried. And yet at the end of those four years
the morale of the Allies was higher than that of the Germans,
who had moved from one aggressive triumph to another, and who
stood everywhere triumphant invaders of the lands into which
they had broken. During that war we repeatedly asked ourselves
the question: How are we going to win? and no one was able ever
to answer it with much precision, until at the end, quite suddenly,
quite unexpectedly, our terrible foe collapsed before us, and we
were so glutted with victory that in our folly we threw it away.
G: His doubt will be growing, even as we speak here. His Eye
is now straining towards us, blind almost to all else that is moving.
So we must keep it. Therein lies all our hope. This, then,
is my counsel. We have not the Ring. In wisdom or great folly
it has been sent away to be destroyed, lest it destroy us.
C: We may now ask ourselves: In what way has our position worsened
since the beginning of the war? It has worsened by the fact that
the Germans have conquered a large part of the coast line
of Western Europe, and many small countries have been overrun
If Hitler can bring under his despotic control the industries
of the countries he has conquered, this will add greatly to his
already vast armament output. On the other hand, this will not
happen immediately, and we are now assured of immense, continuous
and increasing support in supplies and munitions of all kinds
from the United States; and especially of aeroplanes and pilots
from the Dominions and across the oceans coming from regions
which are beyond the reach of enemy bombers.
I do not see how any of these factors can operate to our detriment
on balance before the winter comes; and the winter will impose
a strain upon the Nazi regime, with almost all Europe writhing
and starving under its cruel heel, which, for all their ruthlessness,
will run them very hard... In the meanwhile, however, we have
enormously improved our methods of defense, and we have learned
what we had no right to assume at the beginning, namely, that
the individual aircraft and the individual British pilot have
a sure and definite superiority. Therefore, in casting up this
dread balance sheet and contemplating our dangers with
a disillusioned eye, I see great reason for intense vigilance
and exertion, but none whatever for panic or despair.
G: listen to the words of the Steward of Gondor before he died:
_You may triumph on the fields of the Pelennor for a day,
but against the Power that has now arisen there is no victory_.
I do not bid you despair, as he did, but to ponder the truth
in these words.
C: I am not reciting these facts for the purpose of recrimination.
That I judge to be utterly futile and even harmful. We cannot
afford it. I recite them in order to explain why it was we did not
have, as we could have had, between twelve and fourteen British
divisions fighting in the line in this great battle instead of
only three. Now I put all this aside. I put it on the shelf,
from which the historians, when they have time, will select their
documents to tell their stories. We have to think of the future
and not of the past. This also applies in a small way to our own
affairs at home. There are many who would hold an inquest in
the House of Commons on the conduct of the Governments - and of
Parliaments, for they are in it, too - during the years which
led up to this catastrophe. They seek to indict those who were
responsible for the guidance of our affairs. This also would be
a foolish and pernicious process. There are too many in it.
Let each man search his conscience and search his speeches.
I frequently search mine.
Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between
the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost
D: 'If I had! If you had!' he said. 'Such words and ifs are vain.
It has gone into the Shadow, and only time will show what doom
awaits it and us. The time will not be long. In what is left,
let all who fight the Enemy in their fashion be at one, and keep
hope while they may, and after hope still the hardihood to die free.'