The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

1. The Russian front. Here the Germans are still unable to gain the
smashing victory which, almost a year ago, Hitler announced he had
already achieved. Germany has been able to capture important
Russian territory. Nevertheless, Hitler has been unable to destroy
a single Russian Army; and this, you may be sure, has been, and
still is, his main objective. Millions of German troops seem doomed
to spend another cruel and bitter winter on the Russian front. Yes,
the Russians are killing more Nazis, and destroying more airplanes
and tanks than are being smashed on any other front. They are
fighting not only bravely but brilliantly. In spite of any setbacks
Russia will hold out, and with the help of her Allies will
ultimately drive every Nazi from her soil.

2. The Pacific Ocean Area. This area must be grouped together as a
whole–every part of it, land and sea. We have stopped one major
Japanese offensive; and we have inflicted heavy losses on their
fleet. But they still possess great strength; they seek to keep the
initiative; and they will undoubtedly strike hard again. We must
not overrate the importance of our successes in the Solomon
Islands, though we may be proud of the skill with which these local
operations were conducted. At the same time, we need not underrate
the significance of our victory at Midway. There we stopped the
major Japanese offensive.

3. In the Mediterranean and the Middle East area the British,
together with the South Africans, Australians, New Zealanders,
Indian troops and others of the United Nations, including
ourselves, are fighting a desperate battle with the Germans and
Italians. The Axis powers are fighting to gain control of that
area, dominate the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, and gain
contact with the Japanese Navy. The battle in the Middle East is
now joined. We are well aware of our danger, but we are hopeful of
the outcome.

4. The European area. Here the aim is an offensive against Germany.
There are at least a dozen different points at which attacks can be
launched. You, of course, do not expect me to give details of
future plans, but you can rest assured that preparations are being
made here and in Britain toward this purpose. The power of Germany
must be broken on the battlefields of Europe.

Various people urge that we concentrate our forces on one or
another of these four areas, although no one suggests that any one
of the four areas should be abandoned. Certainly, it could not be
seriously urged that we abandon aid to Russia, or that we surrender
all of the Pacific to Japan, or the Mediterranean and Middle East
to Germany, or give up an offensive against Germany. The American
people may be sure that we shall neglect none of the four great
theaters of war.

Certain vital military decisions have been made. In due time you
will know what these decisions are–and so will our enemies. I can
say now that all of these decisions are directed toward taking the
offensive.

Today, exactly nine months after Pearl Harbor, we have sent
overseas three times more men than we transported to France in the
first nine months of the first World War. We have done this in
spite of greater danger and fewer ships. And every week sees a gain
in the actual number of American men and weapons in the fighting
areas. These reinforcements in men and munitions are continuing,
and will continue to go forward.

This war will finally be won by the coordination of all the armies,
navies and air forces of all of the United Nations operating in
unison against our enemies.

This will require vast assemblies of weapons and men at all the
vital points of attack. We and our allies have worked for years to
achieve superiority in weapons. We have no doubts about the
superiority of our men. We glory in the individual exploits of our
soldiers, our sailors, our marines, our merchant seamen. Lieutenant
John James Powers was one of these–and there are thousands of
others in the forces of the United Nations.

Several thousand Americans have met death in battle. Other
thousands will lose their lives. But many millions stand ready to
step into their places–to engage in a struggle to the very death.
For they know that the enemy is determined to destroy us, our homes
and our institutions–that in this war it is kill or be killed.

Battles are not won by soldiers or sailors who think first of their
own personal safety. And wars are not won by people who are
concerned primarily with their own comfort, their own convenience,
their own pocketbooks.

We Americans of today bear the gravest of responsibilities. And all
of the United Nations share them.

All of us here at home are being tested–for our fortitude, for our
selfless devotion to our country and to our cause.

This is the toughest war of all time. We need not leave it to
historians of the future to answer the question whether we are
tough enough to meet this unprecedented challenge. We can give that
answer now. The answer is “Yes.”

October 12, 1942.

My Fellow Americans:

As you know, I have recently come back from a trip of inspection of
camps and training stations and war factories.

The main thing that I observed on this trip is not exactly news. It
is the plain fact that the American people are united as never
before in their determination to do a job and to do it well.

This whole nation of 130,000,000 free men, women and children is
becoming one great fighting force. Some of us are soldiers or
sailors, some of us are civilians. Some of us are fighting the war
in airplanes five miles above the continent of Europe or the
islands of the Pacific–and some of us are fighting it in mines
deep down in the earth of Pennsylvania or Montana. A few of us are
decorated with medals for heroic achievement, but all of us can
have that deep and permanent inner satisfaction that comes from
doing the best we know how–each of us playing an honorable part in
the great struggle to save our democratic civilization.

Whatever our individual circumstances or opportunities–we are all
in it, and our spirit is good, and we Americans and our allies are
going to win–and do not let anyone tell you anything different.

That is the main thing that I saw on my trip around the country–
unbeatable spirit. If the leaders of Germany and Japan could have
come along with me, and had seen what I saw, they would agree with
my conclusions. Unfortunately, they were unable to make the trip
with me. And that is one reason why we are carrying our war effort
overseas–to them.

With every passing week the war increases in scope and intensity.
That is true in Europe, in Africa, in Asia, and on all the seas.

The strength of the United Nations is on the upgrade in this war.
The Axis leaders, on the other hand, know by now that they have
already reached their full strength, and that their steadily
mounting losses in men and material cannot be fully replaced.
Germany and Japan are already realizing what the inevitable result
will be when the total strength of the United Nations hits them–at
additional places on the earth’s surface.

One of the principal weapons of our enemies in the past has been
their use of what is called “The War of Nerves.” They have spread
falsehood and terror; they have started Fifth Columns everywhere;
they have duped the innocent; they have fomented suspicion and hate
between neighbors; they have aided and abetted those people in
other nations–including our own–whose words and deeds are
advertised from Berlin and from Tokyo as proof of our disunity.

The greatest defense against all such propaganda, of course, is the
common sense of the common people–and that defense is prevailing.

The “War of Nerves” against the United Nations is now turning into
a boomerang. For the first time, the Nazi propaganda machine is on
the defensive. They begin to apologize to their own people for the
repulse of their vast forces at Stalingrad, and for the enormous
casualties they are suffering. They are compelled to beg their
overworked people to rally their weakened production. They even
publicly admit, for the first time, that Germany can be fed only at
the cost of stealing food from the rest of Europe.

They are proclaiming that a second front is impossible; but, at the
same time, they are desperately rushing troops in all directions,
and stringing barbed wire all the way from the coasts of Finland
and Norway to the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, they are driven to increase the fury of their
atrocities.

The United Nations have decided to establish the identity of those
Nazi leaders who are responsible for the innumerable acts of
savagery. As each of these criminal deeds is committed, it is being
carefully investigated; and the evidence is being relentlessly
piled up for the future purposes of justice.

We have made it entirely clear that the United Nations seek no mass
reprisals against the populations of Germany or Italy or Japan. But
the ring leaders and their brutal henchmen must be named, and
apprehended, and tried in accordance with the judicial processes of
criminal law.

There are now millions of Americans in army camps, in naval
stations, in factories and in shipyards.

Who are these millions upon whom the life of our country depends?
What are they thinking? What are their doubts? What are their
hopes? And how is the work progressing?

The Commander-in-Chief cannot learn all of the answers to these
questions in Washington. And that is why I made the trip I did.

It is very easy to say, as some have said, that when the President
travels through the country he should go with a blare of trumpets,
with crowds on the sidewalks, with batteries of reporters and
photographers–talking and posing with all of the politicians of
the land.

But having had some experience in this war and in the last war, I
can tell you very simply that the kind of trip I took permitted me
to concentrate on the work I had to do without expending time,
meeting all the demands of publicity. And–I might add–it was a
particular pleasure to make a tour of the country without having to
give a single thought to politics.

I expect to make other trips for similar purposes, and I shall make
them in the same way.

In the last war, I had seen great factories; but until I saw some
of the new present-day plants, I had not thoroughly visualized our
American war effort. Of course, I saw only a small portion of all
our plants, but that portion was a good cross-section, and it was
deeply impressive.

The United States has been at war for only ten months, and is
engaged in the enormous task of multiplying its armed forces many
times. We are by no means at full production level yet. But I could
not help asking myself on the trip, where would we be today if the
government of the United States had not begun to build many of its
factories for this huge increase more than two years ago, more than
a year before war was forced upon us at Pearl Harbor?

We have also had to face the problem of shipping. Ships in every
part of the world continue to be sunk by enemy action. But the
total tonnage of ships coming out of American, Canadian and British
shipyards, day by day, has increased so fast that we are getting
ahead of our enemies in the bitter battle of transportation.

In expanding our shipping, we have had to enlist many thousands of
men for our Merchant Marine. These men are serving magnificently.
They are risking their lives every hour so that guns and tanks and
planes and ammunition and food may be carried to the heroic
defenders of Stalingrad and to all the United Nations’ forces all
over the world.

A few days ago I awarded the first Maritime Distinguished Service
Medal to a young man–Edward F. Cheney of Yeadon, Pennsylvania–who
had shown great gallantry in rescuing his comrades from the oily
waters of the sea after their ship had been torpedoed. There will
be many more such acts of bravery.

In one sense my recent trip was a hurried one, out through the
Middle West, to the Northwest, down the length of the Pacific Coast
and back through the Southwest and the South. In another sense,
however, it was a leisurely trip, because I had the opportunity to
talk to the people who are actually doing the work–management and
labor alike–on their own home grounds. And it gave me a fine
chance to do some thinking about the major problems of our war
effort on the basis of first things first.

As I told the three press association representatives who
accompanied me, I was impressed by the large proportion of women
employed–doing skilled manual labor running machines. As time goes
on, and many more of our men enter the armed forces, this
proportion of women will increase. Within less than a year from
now, I think, there will probably be as many women as men working
in our war production plants.

I had some enlightening experiences relating to the old saying of
us men that curiosity–inquisitiveness–is stronger among woman. I
noticed, frequently, that when we drove unannounced down the middle
aisle of a great plant full of workers and machines, the first
people to look up from their work were the men–and not the women.
It was chiefly the men who were arguing as to whether that fellow
in the straw hat was really the President or not.

So having seen the quality of the work and of the workers on our
production lines–and coupling these firsthand observations with
the reports of actual performance of our weapons on the fighting
fronts–I can say to you that we are getting ahead of our enemies
in the battle of production.

And of great importance to our future production was the effective
and rapid manner in which the Congress met the serious problem of
the rising cost of living. It was a splendid example of the
operation of democratic processes in wartime.

The machinery to carry out this act of the Congress was put into
effect within twelve hours after the bill was signed. The
legislation will help the cost-of-living problems of every worker
in every factory and on every farm in the land.

In order to keep stepping up our production, we have had to add
millions of workers to the total labor force of the nation. And as
new factories came into operation, we must find additional millions
of workers.

This presents a formidable problem in the mobilization of manpower.

It is not that we do not have enough people in this country to do
the job. The problem is to have the right numbers of the right
people in the right places at the right time.

We are learning to ration materials, and we must now learn to
ration manpower. The major objectives of a sound manpower policy
are:

First, to select and train men of the highest fighting efficiency
needed for our armed forces in the achievement of victory over our
enemies in combat.

Second, to man our war industries and farms with the workers needed
to produce the arms and munitions and food required by ourselves
and by our fighting allies to win this war.

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