King George VI
First War Time Radio Address
delivered 3 September 1939, London
"In this grave hour,
perhaps the most fateful in our history, I send to every household
of my peoples, both at home and overseas, this message, spoken with
the same depth of feeling for each one of you as if I
were able to cross your threshold and speak to you myself. For the second time in
the lives of most of us we are at war."
"Over and over again we have
tried to find a peaceful way out of the differences between
ourselves and those who are now our enemies. But it has been in
vain. We have been forced into a conflict. For we are called, with
our allies, to meet the challenge of a principle which, if it were
to prevail, would be fatal to any civilized order in the world."
"It is the principle which permits a state, in the selfish pursuit of
power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges; which
sanctions the use of force, or threat of force, against the
sovereignty and independence of other states."
"Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere
primitive doctrine that "might is right"; and if this principle were
established throughout the world, the freedom of our own country and
of the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations would be in
danger. But far more than this -- the peoples of the world would be
kept in the bondage of fear, and all hopes of settled peace and of
the security of justice and liberty among nations would be ended."
"This is the ultimate issue which confronts us. For the sake of all
that we ourselves hold dear, and of the world order and peace, it is
unthinkable that we should refuse to meet the challenge."
Text and Audio of Address