September 3, 2010
Britain and France Declare War on Germany
Britain's Declaration of War Speech (00:02:43m)
September 3, 1939
The time limit set by Britain and France expired this morning. Hitler ignored ultimatums calling for Germany's withdrawal from Polish territory. Britain and France have declared war. For the past several years Britain has pursued a policy of appeasement in the face of growing arms buildup by Nazi Germany. The agreement reached between Chamberlain and Hitler at the Munich Conference last year guaranteeing "peace with honour" resulted in the disastrous loss of Czechoslovakia to Germany's ever growing expansionism.
Today, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty and a member of the War Cabinet. Last October in a scathing parliamentary debate, Churchill condemned the British policy of appeasement, saying, "We do not want to be led upon the high road to becoming a satellite of the German Nazi system of European domination. In a very few years, perhaps in a very few months, we shall be confronted with demands with which we shall no doubt be invited to comply. Those demands may affect the surrender of territory or the surrender of liberty. I foresee and fortell that the policy of submission will carry with it restrictions upon the freedom of speech and debate in Parliament, on public platforms, and discussions in the Press, for it will be said - for indeed I hear it said sometimes now, that we cannot allow the Nazi system of dictatorship to be criticized by ordinary, common English politicians. Then with a Press under control, in part direct but more potently indirect with every organ of public opinion doped and chloroformed into acquiescence, we shall be conducted along further stages of our journey." Churchill has been a fierce critic of Chamberlain's policy of appeasement and has warned the British government since 1932 of the dangers of Germany's rearmament.
A massive 3-day evacuation of over 1.5 million British civilians to the countryside has been completed. But the passengers of the British liner SS Athenia were not fortunate. The liner was torpedoed off the north-west coast of Ireland by a U-30 German submarine and sank. The Germans claimed to have mistaken the liner for an auxiliary naval cruiser. Of the 1400 passengers, 112 are dead including 28 Americans.
Germany captured the city of Czestochowa located in the south of Poland. The town is famous for the Pauline monastery which houses the painting of the Black Madonna. Millions of visitors have made the pilgrimage every year to the sacred shrine. The Germans have renamed the town Tschenstochau and have incorporated it into the General Government.
Stukas sink the Polish destroyer Wicha at Hela. And as Britain announces that it will enforce a naval blockade on Germany, the first wave of German U-boats begin to prowl the North Atlantic. Of the 58 U-boats, 39 have already been dispatched at sea.
King Leopold III of Belgium continues to affirm his country's neutrality.
(more videos to follow)