It is said in defense [sic] of the Fascist State that the people are enjoying the liberty of feeling themselves members, part and parcel of a powerful organic state which is ruled for the welfare of everybody and not in the interests of a chosen few, a state which has social justice within, and international prestige without its borders.
Such a conception is entirely alien to the tradition of political liberty as freedom of thought and expression, of education, of worship, of assembly, and the right to change the party in power by means of elections – which Great Britain has enjoyed right up to the war.
Two of our slogans are “Lend to defend the right to be free” [National Savings Movement] and “Freedom is in peril, defend it with your might” and to defend it we have censorship in Great Britain today but only when war forced it on us.
As early as 1934 an Associated Press report from Germany reads “Five persons were sentenced to prison today for listening to Soviet broadcasts of German news from the Moscow radio, sentences of one and two years being imposed.”
The world is concerned in this war because it recognises not only the enormous resultant wastage of human life and economic wealth, but also the disastrous effect of such a war upon the democratic ideal. Because democracies have freedom of thought, the strict censorship of print, speech and thought must be imposed on the people in time of war, when the entire energies of the nation must be harnessed to prosecute it to a successful conclusion.
The first dramatic suspension of Civil Rights in a democracy during war is the censorship of newspapers. In this country at once there was a stringent censorship of all foreign news – the news we have in our papers we can rely on – but how about Germany? Is she as fortunate as we are in this respect?
Today the Nazis having rejected the liberalistic civilization of the Western World, have a censorship which is not only the strictest but also the most obvious. Censorship and propaganda are open and avowed. Walter Funk of the Propaganda Ministry has stated the government position in declaring the German Press – “is no longer a barrel organ out of which everybody is permitted to squeeze whatever melodies he likes, but a highly sensitive orchestra, on and with which only those shall play who know how, and in whose hands the Fuhrer himself has placed the conductor’s baton.”
Freedom of thought and opinion in Germany before the war were so restricted that the newspapers were uniform, dull, and their sales low. The cloud of the Concentration Camp hung over their writers. Perhaps the only news the Nazis have now is when our R.A.F. drop bombs.
Freedom of speech
In Great Britain we allowed anyone to get on a soap box and speak – the music hall jokes which we sometimes enjoy about the powers in the government would be severely punished in Nazi Germany.
We are willingly putting up with restrictions on the right of free speech we would not tolerate in peace time. But once war with all its attendant horrors is with us, intolerance for spoken or written criticism of the country is greater among our people themselves than in the government.
Every Britisher realizes that freedom of speech is the cornerstone of democracy and free government, that suppression bottles up discontent and leads to violence, that censorship is a blight, necessary in wartime only. That is why we fight today, that we and other nations may be free.
Jim’s notes for a Speech on Women’s Roles in the war
Let me outline briefly a little of the work of the women in Britain today. To begin with you must remember that the men and women in our country are conscripted in order that the government may command every ounce of power that we have to win this war.
An OBE was awarded last week to a 45-year-old farmer’s wife for capturing a German aviator who parachuted from a disabled bomber.
Much of the lovely golf course which runs down to the Dee is ploughed up and by a woman of about 60 – I saw her do it.
Women Territorials – in Khaki uniform and stockings do the work that frees the men for front line fighting. They get 1s/3d a day working up as they reach higher rank.
Telephonists, cooks, orderlies, transport clerks, stores (issuing).
WAAFS – Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – similar duties including that of special work with morse code to which they are sworn secrecy.
WRENS Navy – their quarters like a ship. Discipline strict, traditions high, many left well-paid jobs to serve their country. Some of these women killed on active service have been given a military funeral.
Nurses – voluntary
VADs Serve and learn
ARP – vast organisation day and night. Daytime – either voluntary or paid (£2 an 8-hour day, one day off per week).
First Aid – decontamination, telephone, ambulance drivers, ready night and day.
Air Wardens – Older men and women patrol roads and streets for lights. Very many are voluntary. Some already have lost their lives. Dug-outs. Gasmasks. Warning – first they warn the public.
Land Girls – Poultry, agricultural, dairy work, trained at Agricultural College – probationary period.
Others – just carry on their jobs – munitions workers, public offices, shops, schools.
Women in the home – gardens, children, have given up holidays, save paper, tins, bottles, food for poultry and pigs.
There is no need to go into the question with thinking people of what American Women are doing to help but what they can do is much more to help us in our fight for the freedom of the world.
- Realise the gravity of the situation and help other people to realize it so that the American government organise a vast expansion of plant and personnel for making armaments. At the same time you will be organising your own defence.
- We need ambulances, medicines, warm clothing, blankets, surgical requisitions for the wounded, thousands of knitted comforts.
- Join one of the American organisations collecting war relief, many of them need organisers, typists.
- If you can give shoes or comforts, send them to the Red Cross in New York.
We cannot wait; sympathy is good but we want ARMAMENTS AND MONEY. Use your own organisations and convert your gifts of time and money into lives saved. Help us to win not a great military victory but a just peace for all nations.
In another speech to her American audience, Jim clearly had a message to tell. The ESU had warned against their scholars indulging in propaganda but she wanted to convey how the countryside had changed with the advent of war.
Britain’s Home Front her Battle Front
Local Defence Units [later to be renamed The Home Guard] have been organised to patrol the countryside – signposts ripped down, buildings and landmarks camouflaged. Farmers leave machinery lying about (to put off potential invasion from the air?) and after a cricket match trucks and other obstacles are moved onto the ground.
Gunrooms of country houses and shooting galleries have been emptied of their contents, the owners loaning their guns to the government; volunteers have regular practices and prepare their positions in hedgerows. Troops are held in mobile reserves ready to be rushed to any point.
On the coast, government controls everything that floats in an effort to protect all coastal waters and harbours. Machine guns and one-pounders are kept hidden. The beaches are protected so that invaders can be destroyed before the arrival of land forces.
Every home has received a circular showing how to recognise large transport planes.
Concrete gun and mortar emplacements have been installed at all critical places.
The War has now entered its final phase and because fundamentally it threatens the control of British sea-power, it has become a broader struggle than the last war was.
Britain’s sea-power is still the stumbling-block. Until she is crushed in Europe, Britain’s sea-power still controls the exits from the Baltic and the Mediterranean in addition to the passages to the Channel ports and the coasts of Scandinavia.
Fishermen have either joined the Navy or work on mine-sweeping. Church towers are manned by parashots. Stately homes have their lawns ploughed up in order to grow vegetables.
You can still walk along the banks of the Dee and see the sun dipping and forget there was a war on, if every now and then a bomber didn’t come roaring down the estuary as the sea-birds rise with shrill cries. You look back and see the great grey balloon barrage floating in the sky and then you realise that at any moment may descend swift death, maiming and destruction.