The Fireside Chats of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

We did discuss international relationships from the point of view
of big, broad objectives, rather than details. But on the basis of
what we did discuss, I can say even today that I do not think any
insoluble differences will arise among Russia, Great Britain and
the United States.

In these conferences we were concerned with basic principles–
principles which involve the security and the welfare and the
standard of living or human beings in countries large and small.

To use an American and somewhat ungrammatical colloquialism, I may
say that I “got along fine” with Marshal Stalin. He is a man who
combines a tremendous, relentless determination with a stalwart
good humor. I believe he is truly representative of the heart and
soul of Russia; and I believe that we are going to get along very
well with him and the Russian people–very well indeed.

Britain, Russia, China and the United States and their Allies
represent more than three-quarters of the total population of the
earth. As long as these four nations with great military power
stick together in determination to keep the peace there will be no
possibility of an aggressor nation arising to start another world
war.

But those four powers must be united with and cooperate with all
the freedom-loving peoples of Europe, and Asia, and Africa and the
Americas. The rights of every nation, large or small, must be
respected and guarded as jealously as are the rights of every
individual within our own republic.

The doctrine that the strong shall dominate the weak is the
doctrine of our enemies–and we reject it.

But, at the same time, we are agreed that if force is necessary to
keep international peace, international force will be applied–for
as long as it may be necessary.

It has been our steady policy–and it is certainly a common sense
policy–that the right of each nation to freedom must be measured
by the willingness of that nation to fight for freedom. And today
we salute our unseen Allies in occupied countries–the underground
resistance groups and the armies of liberation. They will provide
potent forces against our enemies, when the day of the counter-
invasion comes.

Through the development of science the world has become so much
smaller that we have had to discard the geographical yardsticks of
the past. For instance, through our early history the Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans were believed to be walls of safety for the United
States. Time and distance made it physically possible, for example,
for us and for the other American Republics to obtain and maintain
our independence against infinitely stronger powers. Until recently
very few people, even military experts, thought that the day would
ever come when we might have to defend our Pacific Coast against
Japanese threats of invasion.

At the outbreak of the first World War relatively few people
thought that our ships and shipping would be menaced by German
submarines on the high seas or that the German militarists would
ever attempt to dominate any nation outside of central Europe.

After the Armistice in 1918, we thought and hoped that the
militaristic philosophy of Germany had been crushed; and being full
of the milk of human kindness we spent the next twenty years
disarming, while the Germans whined so pathetically that the other
nations permitted them–and even helped them–to rearm.

For too many years we lived on pious hopes that aggressor and
warlike nations would learn and understand and carry out the
doctrine of purely voluntary peace.

The well-intentioned but ill-fated experiments of former years did
not work. It is my hope that we will not try them again. No–that
is putting it too weakly–it is my intention to do all that I
humanly can as President and Commander-in-Chief to see to it that
these tragic mistakes shall not be made again.

There have always been cheerful idiots in this country who believed
that there would be no more war for us, if everybody in America
would only return into their homes and lock their front doors
behind them. Assuming that their motives were of the highest,
events have shown how unwilling they were to face the facts.

The overwhelming majority of all the people in the world want
peace. Most of them are fighting for the attainment of peace–not
just a truce, not just an armistice–but peace that is as strongly
enforced and as durable as mortal man can make it. If we are
willing to fight for peace now, is it not good logic that we should
use force if necessary, in the future, to keep the peace?

I believe, and I think I can say, that the other three great
nations who are fighting so magnificently to gain peace are in
complete agreement that we must be prepared to keep the peace by
force. If the people of Germany and Japan are made to realize
thoroughly that the world is not going to let them break out again,
it is possible, and, I hope, probable, that they will abandon the
philosophy of aggression–the belief that they can gain the whole
world even at the risk of losing their own souls.

I shall have more to say about the Cairo and Teheran conferences
when I make my report to the Congress in about two weeks’ time.
And, on that occasion, I shall also have a great deal to say about
certain conditions here at home.

But today I wish to say that in all my travels, at home and abroad,
it is the sight of our soldiers and sailors and their magnificent
achievements which have given me the greatest inspiration and the
greatest encouragement for the future.

To the members of our armed forces, to their wives, mothers and
fathers, I want to affirm the great faith and confidence that we
have in General Marshall and in Admiral King who direct all of our
armed might throughout the world. Upon them falls the great
responsibility of planning the strategy of determining where and
when we shall fight. Both of these men have already gained high
places in American history, places which will record in that
history many evidences of their military genius that cannot be
published today.

Some of our men overseas are now spending their third Christmas far
from home. To them and to all others overseas or soon to go
overseas, I can give assurance that it is the purpose of their
government to win this war and to bring them home at the earliest
possible time.

We here in the United States had better be sure that when our
soldiers and sailors do come home they will find an America in
which they are given full opportunities for education, and
rehabilitation, social security, and employment and business
enterprise under the free American system–and that they will find
a government which, by their votes as American citizens, they have
had a full share in electing.

The American people have had every reason to know that this is a
tough and destructive war. On my trip abroad, I talked with many
military men who had faced our enemies in the field. These hard-
headed realists testify to the strength and skill and
resourcefulness of the enemy generals and men whom we must beat
before final victory is won. The war is now reaching the stage
where we shall all have to look forward to large casualty lists–
dead, wounded and missing.

War entails just that. There is no easy road to victory. And the
end is not yet in sight.

I have been back only for a week. It is fair that I should tell you
my impression. I think I see a tendency in some of our people here
to assume a quick ending of the war–that we have already gained
the victory. And, perhaps as a result of this false reasoning, I
think I discern an effort to resume or even encourage an outbreak
of partisan thinking and talking. I hope I am wrong. For, surely,
our first and most foremost tasks are all concerned with winning
the war and winning a just peace that will last for generations.

The massive offensives which are in the making both in Europe and
the Far East–will require every ounce of energy and fortitude that
we and our Allies can summon on the fighting fronts and in all the
workshops at home. As I have said before, you cannot order up a
great attack on a Monday and demand that it be delivered on
Saturday.

Less than a month ago I flew in a big Army transport plane over the
little town of Bethlehem, in Palestine.

Tonight, on Christmas Eve, all men and women everywhere who love
Christmas are thinking of that ancient town and of the star of
faith that shone there more than nineteen centuries ago.

American boys are fighting today in snow-covered mountains, in
malarial jungles, on blazing deserts; they are fighting on the far
stretches of the sea and above the clouds, and fighting for the
thing for which they struggle. I think it is best symbolized by the
message that came out of Bethlehem.

On behalf of the American people–your own people–I send this
Christmas message to you, to you who are in our armed forces:

In our hearts are prayers for you and for all your comrades in arms
who fight to rid the world of evil.

We ask God’s blessing upon you–upon your fathers, mothers, wives
and children–all your loved ones at home.

We ask that the comfort of God’s grace shall be granted to those
who are sick and wounded, and to those who are prisoners of war in
the hands of the enemy, waiting for the day when they will again be
free.

And we ask that God receive and cherish those who have given their
lives, and that He keep them in honor and in the grateful memory of
their countrymen forever.

God bless all of you who fight our battles on this Christmas Eve.

God bless us all. Keep us strong in our faith that we fight for a
better day for humankind–here and everywhere.

June 5, 1944.

My Friends:

Yesterday, on June fourth, 1944, Rome fell to American and Allied
troops. The first of the Axis capitals is now in our hands. One up
and two to go!

It is perhaps significant that the first of these capitals to fall
should have the longest history of all of them. The story of Rome
goes back to the time of the foundations of our civilization. We
can still see there monuments of the time when Rome and the Romans
controlled the whole of the then known world. That, too, is
significant, for the United Nations are determined that in the
future no one city and no one race will be able to control the
whole of the world.

In addition to the monuments of the older times, we also see in
Rome the great symbol of Christianity, which has reached into
almost every part of the world. There are other shrines and other
churches in many places, but the churches and shrines of Rome are
visible symbols of the faith and determination of the early saints
and martyrs that Christianity should live and become universal. And
tonight it will be a source of deep satisfaction that the freedom
of the Pope and the Vatican City is assured by the armies of the
United Nations.

It is also significant that Rome has been liberated by the armed
forces of many nations. The American and British armies–who bore
the chief burdens of battle–found at their sides our own North
American neighbors, the gallant Canadians. The fighting New
Zealanders from the far South Pacific, the courageous French and
the French Moroccans, the South Africans, the Poles and the East
Indians–all of them fought with us on the bloody approaches to the
city of Rome.

The Italians, too, forswearing a partnership in the Axis which they
never desired, have sent their troops to join us in our battles
against the German trespassers on their soil.

The prospect of the liberation of Rome meant enough to Hitler and
his generals to induce them to fight desperately at great cost of
men and materials and with great sacrifice to their crumbling
Eastern line and to their Western front. No thanks are due to them
if Rome was spared the devastation which the Germans wreaked on
Naples and other Italian cities. The Allied general maneuvered so
skillfully that the Nazis could only have stayed long enough to
damage Rome at the risk of losing their armies.

But Rome is of course more than a military objective.

Ever since before the days of the Caesars, Rome has stood as a
symbol of authority. Rome was the Republic. Rome was the Empire.
Rome was and is in a sense the Catholic Church, and Rome was the
capital of a United Italy. Later, unfortunately, a quarter of a
century ago, Rome became the seat of Fascism–one of the three
capitals of the Axis.

For this quarter century the Italian people were enslaved. They
were degraded by the rule of Mussolini from Rome. They will mark
its liberation with deep emotion. In the north of Italy, the people
are still dominated and threatened by the Nazi overlords and their
Fascist puppets.

Our victory comes at an excellent time, while our Allied forces are
poised for another strike at western Europe–and while the armies
of other Nazi soldiers nervously await our assault. And in the
meantime our gallant Russian Allies continue to make their power
felt more and more.

From a strictly military standpoint, we had long ago accomplished
certain of the main objectives of our Italian campaign–the control
of the islands–the major islands–the control of the sea lanes of
the Mediterranean to shorten our combat and supply lines, and the
capture of the airports, such as the great airports of Foggia,
south of Rome, from which we have struck telling blows on the
continent–the whole of the continent all the way up to the Russian
front.

It would be unwise to inflate in our own minds the military
importance of the capture of Rome. We shall have to push through a
long period of greater effort and fiercer fighting before we get
into Germany itself. The Germans have retreated thousands of miles,
all the way from the gates of Cairo, through Libya and Tunisia and
Sicily and Southern Italy. They have suffered heavy losses, but not
great enough yet to cause collapse.

Germany has not yet been driven to surrender. Germany has not yet
been driven to the point where she will be unable to recommence
world conquest a generation hence.

Therefore, the victory still lies some distance ahead. That
distance will be covered in due time–have no fear of that. But it
will be tough and it will be costly, as I have told you many, many
times.

In Italy the people had lived so long under the corrupt rule of
Mussolini that, in spite of the tinsel at the top–you have seen
the pictures of him–their economic condition had grown steadily
worse. Our troops have found starvation, malnutrition, disease, a
deteriorating education and lowered public health–all by-products
of the Fascist misrule.

The task of the Allies in occupation has been stupendous. We have
had to start at the very bottom, assisting local governments to
reform on democratic lines. We have had to give them bread to
replace that which was stolen out of their mouths by the Germans.
We have had to make it possible for the Italians to raise and use
their own local crops. We have to help them cleanse their schools
of Fascist trappings.

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