The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Almost every Axis broadcast–Berlin, Rome, Tokyo–directly quotes
Americans who, by speech or in the press, make damnable
misstatements such as these.

The American people realize that in many cases details of military
operations cannot be disclosed until we are absolutely certain that
the announcement will not give to the enemy military information
which he does not already possess.

Your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear
the worst, without flinching or losing heart. You must, in turn,
have complete confidence that your government is keeping nothing
from you except information that will help the enemy in his attempt
to destroy us. In a democracy there is always a solemn pact of
truth between government and the people, but there must also always
be a full use of discretion, and that word “discretion” applies to
the critics of government as well.

This is war. The American people want to know, and will be told,
the general trend of how the war is going. But they do not wish to
help the enemy any more than our fighting forces do, and they will
pay little attention to the rumor-mongers and the poison peddlers
in our midst.

To pass from the realm of rumor and poison to the field of facts:
the number of our officers and men killed in the attack on Pearl
Harbor on December seventh was 2,340, and the number wounded was
940. Of all of the combatant ships based on Pearl Harbor–
battleships, heavy cruisers, light cruisers, aircraft carriers,
destroyers and submarines–only three are permanently put out of
commission.

Very many of the ships of the Pacific Fleet were not even in Pearl
Harbor. Some of those that were there were hit very slightly, and
others that were damaged have either rejoined the fleet by now or
are still undergoing repairs. And when those repairs are completed,
the ships will be more efficient fighting machines than they were
before.

The report that we lost more than a thousand planes at Pearl Harbor
is as baseless as the other weird rumors. The Japanese do not know
just how many planes they destroyed that day, and I am not going to
tell them. But I can say that to date–and including Pearl Harbor–
we have destroyed considerably more Japanese planes than they have
destroyed of ours.

We have most certainly suffered losses–from Hitler’s U-Boats in
the Atlantic as well as from the Japanese in the Pacific–and we
shall suffer more of them before the turn of the tide. But,
speaking for the United States of America, let me say once and for
all to the people of the world: We Americans have been compelled to
yield ground, but we will regain it. We and the other United
Nations are committed to the destruction of the militarism of Japan
and Germany. We are daily increasing our strength. Soon, we and not
our enemies, will have the offensive; we, not they, will win the
final battles; and we, not they, will make the final peace.

Conquered nations in Europe know what the yoke of the Nazis is
like. And the people of Korea and of Manchuria know in their flesh
the harsh despotism of Japan. All of the people of Asia know that
if there is to be an honorable and decent future for any of them or
any of us, that future depends on victory by the United Nations
over the forces of Axis enslavement.

If a just and durable peace is to be attained, or even if all of us
are merely to save our own skins, there is one thought for us here
at home to keep uppermost–the fulfillment of our special task of
production.

Germany, Italy and Japan are very close to their maximum output of
planes, guns, tanks and ships. The United Nations are not–
especially the United States of America.

Our first job then is to build up production–uninterrupted
production–so that the United Nations can maintain control of the
seas and attain control of the air–not merely a slight
superiority, but an overwhelming superiority.

On January 6th of this year, I set certain definite goals of
production for airplanes, tanks, guns and ships. The Axis
propagandists called them fantastic. Tonight, nearly two months
later, and after a careful survey of progress by Donald Nelson and
others charged with responsibility for our production, I can tell
you that those goals will be attained.

In every part of the country, experts in production and the men and
women at work in the plants are giving loyal service. With few
exceptions, labor, capital and farming realize that this is no time
either to make undue profits or to gain special advantages, one
over the other.

We are calling for new plants and additions–additions to old
plants. We are calling for plant conversion to war needs. We are
seeking more men and more women to run them. We are working longer
hours. We are coming to realize that one extra plane or extra tank
or extra gun or extra ship completed tomorrow may, in a few months,
turn the tide on some distant battlefield; it may make the
difference between life and death for some of our own fighting men.
We know now that if we lose this war it will be generations or even
centuries before our conception of democracy can live again. And we
can lose this war only if use slow up our effort or if we waste our
ammunition sniping at each other.

Here are three high purposes for every American:

1. We shall not stop work for a single day. If any dispute arises
we shall keep on working while the dispute is solved by mediation,
or conciliation or arbitration–until the war is won.

2. We shall not demand special gains or special privileges or
special advantages for any one group or occupation.

3. We shall give up conveniences and modify the routine of our
lives if our country asks us to do so. We will do it cheerfully,
remembering that the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and
every freedom in every part of our land.

This generation of Americans has come to realize, with a present
and personal realization, that there is something larger and more
important than the life of any individual or of any individual
group–something for which a man will sacrifice, and gladly
sacrifice, not only his pleasures, not only his goods, not only his
associations with those he loves, but his life itself. In time of
crisis when the future is in the balance, we come to understand,
with full recognition and devotion, what this nation is and what we
owe to it.

The Axis propagandists have tried in various evil ways to destroy
our determination and our morale. Failing in that, they are now
trying to destroy our confidence in our own allies. They say that
the British are finished–that the Russians and the Chinese are
about to quit. Patriotic and sensible Americans will reject these
absurdities. And instead of listening to any of this crude
propaganda, they will recall some of the things that Nazis and
Japanese have said and are still saying about us.

Ever since this nation became the arsenal of democracy–ever since
enactment of Lend-Lease–there has been one persistent theme
through all Axis propaganda.

This theme has been that Americans are admittedly rich, that
Americans have considerable industrial power–but that Americans
are soft and decadent, that they cannot and will not unite and work
and fight.

From Berlin, Rome and Tokyo we have been described as a nation of
weaklings–“playboys”–who would hire British soldiers, or Russian
soldiers, or Chinese soldiers to do our fighting for us.

Let them repeat that now!

Let them tell that to General MacArthur and his men.

Let them tell that to the sailors who today are hitting hard in the
far waters of the Pacific.

Let them tell that to the boys in the Flying Fortresses.

Let them tell that to the Marines!

The United Nations constitute an association of independent peoples
of equal dignity and equal importance. The United Nations are
dedicated to a common cause. We share equally and with equal zeal
the anguish and the awful sacrifices of war. In the partnership of
our common enterprise, we must share in a unified plan in which all
of us must play our several parts, each of us being equally
indispensable and dependent one on the other.

We have unified command and cooperation and comradeship.

We Americans will contribute unified production and unified
acceptance of sacrifice and of effort. That means a national unity
that can know no limitations of race or creed or selfish politics.
The American people expect that much from themselves. And the
American people will find ways and means of expressing their
determination to their enemies, including the Japanese Admiral who
has said that he will dictate the terms of peace here in the White
House.

We of the United Nations are agreed on certain broad principles in
the kind of peace we seek. The Atlantic Charter applies not only to
the parts of the world that border the Atlantic but to the whole
world; disarmament of aggressors, self-determination of nations and
peoples, and the four freedoms–freedom of speech, freedom of
religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The British and the Russian people have known the full fury of Nazi
onslaught. There have been times when the fate of London and Moscow
was in serious doubt. But there was never the slightest question
that either the British or the Russians would yield. And today all
the United Nations salute the superb Russian Army as it celebrates
the twenty-fourth anniversary of its first assembly.

Though their homeland was overrun, the Dutch people are still
fighting stubbornly and powerfully overseas.

The great Chinese people have suffered grievous losses; Chungking
has been almost wiped out of existence–yet it remains the capital
of an unbeatable China.

That is the conquering spirit which prevails throughout the United
Nations in this war.

The task that we Americans now face will test us to the uttermost.
Never before have we been called upon for such a prodigious effort.
Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much.

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Tom Paine wrote those
words on a drumhead, by the light of a campfire. That was when
Washington’s little army of ragged, rugged men was retreating
across New Jersey, having tasted nothing but defeat.

And General Washington ordered that these great words written by
Tom Paine be read to the men of every regiment in the Continental
Army, and this was the assurance given to the first American armed
forces:

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis,
shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it
now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like
hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with
us, that the harder the sacrifice, the more glorious the triumph.”

So spoke Americans in the year 1776.

So speak Americans today!

April 28, 1942.

My Fellow Americans:

It is nearly five months since we were attacked at Pearl Harbor.
For the two years prior to that attack this country had been
gearing itself up to a high level of production of munitions. And
yet our war efforts had done little to dislocate the normal lives
of most of us.

Since then we have dispatched strong forces of our Army and Navy,
several hundred thousand of them, to bases and battlefronts
thousands of miles from home. We have stepped up our war production
on a scale that is testing our industrial power, our engineering
genius and our economic structure to the utmost. We have had no
illusions about the fact that this is a tough job–and a long one.

American warships are now in combat in the North and South
Atlantic, in the Arctic, in the Mediterranean, in the Indian Ocean,
and in the North and South Pacific. American troops have taken
stations in South America, Greenland, Iceland, the British Isles,
the Near East, the Middle East and the Far East, the continent of
Australia, and many islands of the Pacific. American war planes,
manned by Americans, are flying in actual combat over all the
continents and all the oceans.

On the European front the most important development of the past
year has been without question the crushing counteroffensive on the
part of the great armies of Russia against the powerful German
army. These Russian forces have destroyed and are destroying more
armed power of our enemies–troops, planes, tanks and guns–than
all the other United Nations put together.

In the Mediterranean area, matters remain on the surface much as
they were. But the situation there is receiving very careful
attention.

Recently we received news of a change in government in what we used
to know as the Republic of France–a name dear to the hearts of all
lovers of liberty–a name and an institution which we hope will
soon be restored to full dignity.

Throughout the Nazi occupation of France, we have hoped for the
maintenance of a French government which would strive to regain
independence, to reestablish the principles of “Liberty, Equality
and Fraternity,” and to restore the historic culture of France. Our
policy has been consistent from the very beginning. However, we are
now greatly concerned lest those who have recently come to power
may seek to force the brave French people into submission to Nazi
despotism.

The United Nations will take measures, if necessary, to prevent the
use of French territory in any part of the world for military
purposes by the Axis powers. The good people of France will readily
understand that such action is essential for the United Nations to
prevent assistance to the armies or navies or air forces of
Germany, or Italy or Japan. The overwhelming majority of the French
people understand that the fight of the United Nations is
fundamentally their fight, that our victory means the restoration
of a free and independent France–and the saving of France from the
slavery which would be imposed upon her by her external enemies and
by her internal traitors.

We know how the French people really feel. We know that a deep-
seated determination to obstruct every step in the Axis plan
extends from occupied France through Vichy France all the way to
the people of their colonies in every ocean and on every continent.

Our planes are helping in the defense of French colonies today, and
soon American Flying Fortresses will be fighting for the liberation
of the darkened continent of Europe itself.

In all the occupied countries there are men and women, and even
little children who have never stopped fighting, never stopped
resisting, never stopped proving to the Nazis that their so-called
“New Order” will never be enforced upon free peoples.

In the German and Italian peoples themselves there is a growing
conviction that the cause of Nazism and Fascism is hopeless–that
their political and military leaders have led them along the bitter
road which leads not to world conquest but to final defeat. They
cannot fail to contrast the present frantic speeches of these
leaders with their arrogant boastings of a year ago, and two years
ago.

On the other side of the world, in the Far East, we have passed
through a phase of serious losses.

We have inevitably lost control of a large portion of the
Philippine Islands. But this whole nation pays tribute to the
Filipino and American officers and men who held out so long on
Bataan Peninsula, to those grim and gallant fighters who still hold
Corregidor, where the flag flies, and to the forces that are still
striking effectively at the enemy on Mindanao and other islands.

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