Why We Fight: Prelude to War

Why We Fight: Prelude to War


♪ [music] ♪ – [Narrator 1] Causes and events leading up
to our entry into the war. Well, what are the causes? Why are we Americans on the march? Is it because of… [explosions] …Pearl Harbor? [explosions] Is that why we are fighting? Or is it because of… [explosions] Britain? [explosions] France? ♪ [music] ♪ [explosions] China? [sound of airplanes] ♪ [music] ♪ [explosions] Czechoslovakia? ♪ [music] ♪ [explosions] Norway? [sound of airplane] [explosions] Poland? [explosions] [explosions] Holland? [sound of airplanes] [explosions] Greece? [sound of airplanes] [explosions] Belgium? [explosions] Albania? [explosions] Yugoslavia? [explosions] Or Russia? ♪ [music] ♪ [foreign language] ♪ [music] ♪ [sound of airplane] ♪ [music] ♪ Just what was it made us change our way of
living overnight? What turned our resources, our machines, our
whole nation into one vast arsenal, producing more and more weapons of war instead of the
old materials of peace? ♪ [music] ♪ What put us into uniform, ready to engage
the enemy on every continent and every ocean? ♪ [music] ♪ What are these two worlds of which Mr. Wallace
spoke? The free and the slave. Let’s take the free world first, our world. How did it become free? Only through a long and unceasing struggle
inspired by men of vision. Moses. [singing: Peace, on Earth, goodwill to men…] Muhammad. [singing: …all gracious King… ] Confucius. [singing: …The world, in solemn stillness lay] Christ. [singing: …to hear the angels sing.] All believed that in the sight of God, all
men were created equal. And from that there developed a spirit among
men and nations, which is best expressed in our own declaration of freedom. “We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal.” It is the cornerstone upon which our nation
was built and the ideal of all the great liberators. Washington, Jefferson, Garibaldi, Lafayette,
Kościuszko, Bolívar, Lincoln. [singing: Battle Hymn of the Republic] Lighthouses, lighting up a dark and foggy
world. – [Narrator 2] “That government of the people,
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Fighting, living, dying, for what? For freedom. That for which men have fought since time
began. To be free! [bell tolling] – [Narrator 3] Is life so dear, or peace so
sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but
as for me, give me liberty Or give me death. ♪ [music] ♪ – But what of this other world? Here men insisted that progress lay in killing
freedom. Here they were putting out the lighthouses,
one by one. Here the march of history was reversing itself. In Italy it began when an ambitious rabble-rouser
set his followers marching on Rome. ♪ [music] ♪ The country, like every other country after
the last war, was torn by political unrest, hard times, unemployment. ♪ [music] ♪ Two courses were available to the Italian
people. They could solve their problems in a free,
democratic way, or they could let someone else do the solving for them. They made the tragic mistake of choosing the
second course. They put their trust and faith in this one
man. They believed he represented them. Actually he planned to betray them for the
selfish interest of himself and the group backing him. Just as he had earlier betrayed those who
first supported him. In Germany another even more forceful demagogue sent his followers marching from the Munich
beer hall. He too had the sinister opportunity to take
advantage of post-war chaos. ♪ [music] ♪ But he also had certain distinctive German
characteristics to play on. To start with, the Germans have an inborn
national love of regimentation and a harsh discipline. He could give them that. ♪ [music] ♪ The German army, and through them, the people
had never acknowledged German defeat in the last war, and were anxious for revenge. That, too, he promised them. The wealthy and powerful industrialists were
fearful of losing any of their wealth and power, and were ready to back anyone who would
retain it for them. He promised to take care of them, too. [cheering] This man cunningly played all these ends against
the middle, and ruthlessly set out to murder the newborn German republic. In Japan you expect things to be done a little
differently. They were. Here, not one man, but a gang, disguised their
little schemes as the will of the Emperor, and to the Japanese people, the Emperor is
God. Taking advantage of their fanatical worship
of the God-Emperor, it was no great trick to take away what little freedom they had
ever known. Yes, in these lands the people surrendered
their liberties and threw away their human dignity. [foreign language] They gave up their rights as individual human
beings… [foreign language] …became a part of a mass, a human herd. [crowd chanting] Although these countries were far apart and
different in custom and in language, the same poison made them much alike, each got a new
uniform. In Italy, the new bosses wore black shirts. In Germany, the shirts were brown. In Japan, they hid behind the uniform of the
Army, but really, they belonged to a sinister secret society. Their symbol was a black dragon. The other fellows had to have a symbol, too. Germany, a swastika. In Italy, the old Roman symbol of the fasces. In Germany they called the new order “national
socialism,” or Nazism. ♪ [music] ♪ In Italy, they had a shorter word, fascism. ♪ [music] ♪ In Japan, they had lots of names for it. The New Era of Enlightenment, the New Order
in Asia, the Co-Prosperity Sphere. But no matter how you slice it, it was just
plain old-fashioned militaristic imperialism. The Japs would get the “Prosperity,” and the
others would get the “Co.” They say trouble always comes in threes. Take a good, close look at this trio, remember
these faces. Remember them well. If you ever meet them, don’t hesitate. – [Hitler] [foreign language] – “Stop thinking and follow me!,” cried Hitler. “I will make you masters of the world!” And the people answered, “Heil!” [crowd chanting] – [Mussoloni] [foreign language] – “Stop thinking and believe in me!,” bellowed
Mussolini. “Now we’ll restore the glory that was Rome!” And the people answered: “Duce! Duce!” [crowd chanting] – [Warlord] [foreign language] – “Stop thinking and follow your God-Emperor!,”
cried the Japanese warlords. “And Japan will rule the world!” And the people answered, “Banzai! Banzai!” [crowd chanting] Each system was alike in that the constitutional
lawmaking bodies gave up their power. The Reichstag in Berlin, the House of Deputies
in Rome, the Diet in Tokyo. And these elected representatives became collections
of stooges, rubber stamp organizations. [crowd chanting] Applauding on cue the words of the leaders. [applause] Each system did away with free speech and
free assembly. Each system did away with a free press, and
substituted a press controlled by the Party. Through their ministries of propaganda, each
took complete control of the theater, the movies, the radio. Every cultural activity and every channel
of information was controlled by the most important members of the Party. Each did away with free courts and trial by
jury, and substituted courts and judges run by the Party. Each abolished labor unions and the rights
of bargaining for wages. [sharp whistle] – [Foreman] [foreign language] – [Overseer] [foreign language] – [Laborers] Heil Hitler! – [foreign language] – And under the pretext of patriotism established
a system of forced labor. Each enforced its decrees by an army of secret
police who held the power of life and death over every individual. And for the few who still believed in freedom
and said so, there was a ready answer. ♪ [music] ♪ – [Fascist] [foreign language] – “The greatest intellect in the world can
be silenced with this.” That is an exact translation of the words
these black-shirts cheer so lustily. – [Nazi] [foreign language] – “Whenever I hear anyone mention the word
‘culture,’ the first thing I do is reach for my gun.” Yes, they have the answer, the blackjack,
and the gun. [gunshots] ♪ [music] ♪ [gunshots] ♪ [music] ♪ [gunshots] ♪ [music] ♪ In Italy, they did it different. ♪ [music] ♪ [gunshots] ♪ [music] ♪ While in Japan… ♪ [music] ♪ [gunfire] To their names can be added those of hundreds
and thousands of others who stood in the way of the New Order. Finally there was only one obstacle left. [bells ringing] [choir singing] The word of God and the word of fuhrers cannot
be reconciled. Then God must go! [glass shattering] ♪ [music] ♪ – [Translator] I am absolutely clear in my
own mind and I think I can speak for the Fuhrer as well, that both the Catholic and Protestant
churches must vanish from the life of our people. – Thus spoke Doctor Alfred Rosenberg, and
if you have any doubt that he spoke for his Fuhrer, here’s what happened. ♪ [music] ♪ ♪ O come, all ye faithful, ♪ ♪ Joyful and triumphant, ♪
♪ O come ye, ♪ ♪ O come ye to Bethlehem. ♪ Come and… ♪ Thousands of other men of God–Protestant,
Catholic, Jewish–were persecuted, arrested, confined in concentration camps. – [Dr. Goebbels] Our Fuhrer is the intermediary
between his people and the throne of God. Everything the Fuhrer utters is religion in
the highest sense. It is only on one or two exceptional points
that Christ and Hitler stand comparison, for Hitler is far too big a man to be compared
with one so petty. – Every day in all German classrooms… [singing in German] – Yes, take children from the faith of their
fathers and teach them the State as the only church. And the head of the State is the voice of God. [children chanting] ♪ [music] ♪ That was the way of life, or better, the way
of death, in that other world. Now what of our world, the democratic world? What did we want? What did we do about it? First of all we wanted peace and security. And to prove our sincerity, in 1921, we initiated
the Washington Disarmament Conference. This resulted in two vitally important treaties. One to reduce the size of the British, Japanese,
French, Italian and American fleets. And the other, The Nine-Power Treaty, which
guaranteed the integrity of China, and incidentally, one of the powers signing this was Japan. Later on in 1929, we signed the Kellogg-Briand
Pact, which was supposed to abolish war as a means of settling international disputes. This pact was signed by 47 nations, including
Germany and Japan. – [Henry] Mr. President, I have the honor
of handing you the London Naval Treaty. – Faithful to our treaty obligations… [explosion] …we scrapped more than 60% of our naval
tonnage. And our army was reduced to a standing force
of 136,000 men. Smaller than that maintained by the little
state of Romania. We let our hopes for peace become so strong
that they grew into a determination not to fight unless directly attacked. We let ourselves be influenced by those who
said that we could find security through isolation. The confusion in our way of thinking is apparent
in the slice of public opinion as it appeared in Pathe News in 1939. ♪ [music] ♪ – [Man 1] Another war, not for me. This time America should keep out and I know
I will. – [Man 2] If war breaks out in Europe, I think
that this country should heed the advice of its first president, and avoid all foreign
entanglements. – [Woman 1] I haven’t the slightest idea of
European affairs. – [Man 3] In the event of war in Europe, I
think we should stay out of it entirely. – [Man 4] And all our efforts should be made
to keep out of the fight. – [Man 5] Let Europe fight her own battles. They mean nothing to us. – [Man 6] We should mind our own business! – [Man 7] By all means, no. – [Man 8] Yes, fight! – [Man 9] No. – [Man 10] No. – [Man 11] Yes. – [Man 12] If my country calls, yes. – [Woman 2] No! – We simply did not want to understand that
our individual and national problems were, and always will be, dependent
upon the problems of the whole world. And we had individual and national problems
to worry about. Plenty of them. Just as Germany, Italy and Japan had. But we faced them in a democratic way. We passed laws to give working men a chance
to improve their lot. We established an insurance program for those
without jobs. ♪ [music] ♪ We began to give old folks protection against
want and hunger. We organized the CCC to provide our young
men with healthy and useful employment. [ax and saw blade noises] A federal works program came into being and
changed the face of our nation with new roads, bridges, schools. ♪ [music] ♪ They built great new dams which brought the
miracle of electricity to millions of our people. These were some of our accomplishments, but
there were others not so creditable. We turned our backs on the League of Nations. We passed The Tariff Act to set a higher wall
of isolation around us. We encouraged lawlessness with The Farce of
Prohibition. But in spite of these mistakes, we never had
a thought of losing our free institutions. John Q. Public still ran the country. He had his choice of voting for Dewey, Willkie,
Roosevelt or anybody else. In Germany they had the choice of voting for
Hitler, Hitler, or Hitler. ♪ [music] ♪ Over here, John Q. still read what he pleased. And although he heard of books being burned
in other countries, he would’ve laughed if anyone had told him his books would ever be
burned. ♪ [music] ♪ [bells ringing] On Sunday, if he felt like it, John Q. went
to any church he pleased. [choir singing] Most of all, he got a kick out of seeing his
kids grow up. [children’s voices] [children cheering] ♪ [music] ♪ [bell ringing] – [Child] C’mon, Gary! ♪ [music] ♪ [whistle blowing] ♪ [music] ♪ – The average American was quite unconscious
of the fact that some people had this in mind for the little John Qs. [foreign language] ♪ [music] ♪ Yes, while their children were being trained
to kill, John Q’s kids were giving their pennies to help them have life. ♪ [music] ♪ And when we saw these men on the newsreels,
quite often, we laughed. To us, they looked like characters in a musical
comedy. [beat of a drum] ♪ [music] ♪ [beat of a drum] But they weren’t comic. They weren’t funny. They were deadly serious. They were out for world conquest. And what made it deadly serious was, that
there were 70 million Japanese, 45 million Italians, and 80 million Germans. All hopped up with the same idea. – [foreign language] – Their leaders told them that they were supermen,
“Herrenvolk” the Nazis called it. The master race, destined to rule all other
peoples on Earth. [crowd chanting] – Take a good look at these humorless men. These were to be the rulers of the ruling race. – [Ernst Rohm] [foreign language] – “Obey us blindly and you will attain your
rightful place in the world. All other people will be your slaves.” That’s what they promised them. That Americans, Chinese, Russian,
South Americans, all free peoples would work for them and make them rich. And how they ate it up. [crowd chanting] – “We shall restore the glory that was Rome.” [crowd chanting] “Today we rule Germany, tomorrow the world. [crowd cheering] “The Pacific is ours.” [crowd chanting] It was inevitable that these countries should
gang up on us. The little fella is our pal Kurusu, who smiled
his way into our hearts in December 1941. Here he and his friends are busy carving up
the world in advance, staking out their claims. Take a good look at these claims. Here was the Italy that Mussolini took over
in 1922. And almost his first act was to tell the Italians
they were the rightful owners of Corsica, Nice, Savoie, Albania, Tunisia,
Ethiopia and a land corridor linking it with Libya. Later on he had an even bigger dream. The old Roman Empire as it existed nearly
2000 years ago, to dominate all the lands adjoining the Mediterranean. “Mare Nostrum,” our sea, they called it, just
as the ancient Romans did. As for the Japanese, they had some ambitions
too. By 1920 they had grabbed off Formosa, Korea
and the southern half of the island of Sakhalin. Then Baron Giichi Tanaka, the Prime Minister,
carefully set down Japanese aims in a document called The Tanaka Memorial. It was presented to the Emperor July 25th,
1927. ♪ [music] ♪ Here was their dream, Manchuria for raw materials. China for manpower. Then a triumphant march through Indochina,
Siam, Burma, India, the East Indies and on through Australia and New Zealand. And in the north all they claimed was that
part of Russia east of Lake Baikal. That was to be the new order in Asia. Then the Japs would move eastward to crush the United States and really start their Co-Prosperity Sphere. Now take a look at the bite the Nazis reserved
for themselves. Here is the Germany Hitler walked into. And here is what he wanted. First Europe under his complete political
or economic control, leaving Mussolini a share of the loot if he behaved himself. ♪ [music] ♪ Then the drive to the east. Through the rich oil-lands of Iran and Iraq
into India. Another push south through Africa. ♪ [music] ♪ Then from Dakar, jump off to meet the honorary
Aryans, who were to move in on South America through the Pacific. At the same time, start across from the Scandinavian
countries to hook up with his bucktooth pals coming over from Siberia, to join in the conquest
of the United States. There it is, gents. All they left us was Shangri-La. And they’d claim that too, if they knew where
it was. And did they think they had a chance? – Listen. [foreign language] – “When war comes between Japan and the United
States, I shall not be content merely to occupy Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii and San Francisco,
I look forward to dictating the peace to the United States in the White House at Washington.” Yamamoto wrote those words on January of 1941. Yes, the conquering Jap army down Pennsylvania
Avenue. That was the final goal. You will see what they did to the men and
women of Nanking, Hong Kong and Manila. Imagine the field day they’d enjoy if they’d
marched through the streets of Washington. But before striking, a preliminary step was
necessary. From Berlin, from Rome, from Tokyo, the campaign
started. Propaganda, to confuse, divide, soften up
their intended victim. Put them on the defensive. Scream you’re abused, shout you’re oppressed. The world’s wrong, you are right! If you shriek it loud enough and often enough,
they’ll believe you. Above all, use their free press and their
free speech to destroy them. – [Radioman] [foreign language] – “Lebensraum,” they demanded, living room. ♪ [music] ♪ “Our lands are overcrowded.” But at the same time they gave prizes to mothers
who bore the most sons. [crowd cheering] They brought together large groups of young
men and young girls for human breeding. ♪ [music] ♪ Read what one of their leaders wrote. ♪ [music] ♪ [babies crying] Of course the children from this assembly
line belonged to the State, to be scientifically trained for conquest. [babies crying] Another howl was the lack of raw material. They claimed they were the have-nots and we
were the haves. But out of this supposed lack they built up
the greatest war machines the world has ever known. These are the published figures from the German
military budget. ♪ [music] ♪ Actually between 1933 and 1939, Hitler’s program
of rearmament cost more than $80 billion! The Nazis alone assembled a striking
force of 30 panzer divisions, 70 motorized divisions, 140 infantry divisions, plus the
Luftwaffe, the world’s largest air force. And they had no raw materials. Think of the bread, the automobiles, the good
things of life that the German, Italian, Japanese leaders might have given their people if they
had spent this money for peace, instead of war. You know what billions we are now spending to match their military force. No, no these arguments were all smokescreens. When war came, the democracies proved to be
the have-nots, and our enemies the haves. And when war came, where did it come? [beat of a drum] [explosion] [lightning strike] Remember that date. September 18th, 1931. A date we should remember as well as December
7, 1941. For on that date in 1931, the war we are now
fighting began. The place was Manchuria, the northernmost
province of China. Six thousand miles from San Francisco. Manchuria, the first objective in the Tanaka
plan. By September 18th the Japanese,
who by treaty patrolled the Southern Manchurian Railway, had secretly and illegally increased
their garrisons. On the Korean-Manchurian border an entire
Japanese army was assembled. Conveniently equipped for a winter campaign. All they needed was an excuse; they made their
own. At 10:30 that night, just after The Mukden
Express had passed by, a section of track was dynamited, causing damage to one
rail and two fishplates. ♪ [music] ♪ Japan’s honor had been violated. [explosions] Within half an hour, the Japanese railroad
garrison launched a coordinated attack on the barracks of the sleeping Chinese army
at Mukden. The slaughter was appalling. [sound of hoofbeats] By midnight, the conveniently placed Japanese
army poured across the Korean border, and the first open act of aggression, the invasion
of Manchuria was on. In four days they had occupied the whole of
southern Manchuria, and shortly after, the whole country. Manchuria became Manchukuo, a puppet state
with an obedient stooge on the throne, Henry Pu Yi. A weakling whom the Japanese had prepared
for the job with seven years of women and song. [beat of drums] In Washington, Henry L. Stimson, then Secretary
of State, now Secretary of War, sent out a blistering denunciation of the attack. The League of Nations sent a committee of
five headed by Lord Lytton and including our own General Frank McCoy to Manchuria to investigate. In October of 1932, the committee issued its
report. – [Victor] We found that the Japanese occupation
of this large part of China was not justified on the ground of self-defense, and that the
new state which had been set up, was a Japanese protectorate rather than a
genuine case of Manchurian self-determination. – Shortly after, the League condemned Japan
as an aggressor nation. – [Translator] I call on His Excellency, Mr.
Matsuoka, delegate of Japan. [inaudible chatter] – [Yosuke] It is a matter of common knowledge
that Japan’s policy is fundamentally inspired by a genuine desire to guarantee peace in
the Far East and to contribute to the maintenance of peace throughout the world. Japan, however, find it impossible to accept
the report adopted by the assembly. – In answer the Japanese delegates, knowing
there were no guns behind this condemnation, smiled, took up their briefcases, and marched
out of the League. Northern Manchuria was dead. Collective security was dead. The green light had been given to the aggressors. We and the rest of the world knew that these
aggressors should be stopped and punished, but we were unwilling to make the necessary
sacrifices to back up that opinion. It was impossible to convince a farm boy in
Iowa, or a driver of a London bus, or a waiter in a Paris cafe, that he should go to war
because of a mud hut in Manchuria. [explosion] [artillery fire] – Yet the subsequent course of history makes
it clear that that incident, so many miles away, is one of the main reasons that you
and millions of others are in uniform today. The Japs had Manchuria. Phase number one of the Tanaka plan was completed. Phase number two, the conquest of China. In 1932, without warning, the Japs attacked
the Chinese city of Shanghai. [explosions] [explosions] [airplane engine noise] [explosions] [bombs falling and exploding] [gunfire] [explosions] [airplane engine] [explosions] [bombs falling and exploding]
[woman crying] [explosions] [airplane] [explosions] [woman crying] [explosion] [gunfire] [airplane sounds] [explosion] [airplane sounds] [woman crying] [gunfire] [sirens] [gunfire] Here they met such stubborn resistance, they
had to pour more than 75,000 troops into the local battle before capturing the city. This resistance made them decide to shift
their campaign to the north, and in 1933, they added the province of Jehol to Manchuria. Yes, the Japs launched the second phase of
the Tanaka plan. But they had yet to finish it. A united nation stands against them. Under the inspired leadership of General Chiang
Kai-shek, the Chinese people fought, and still fight on. ♪ [music] ♪ Meantime, what of Japan’s partners? What helpless people were they planning to
bomb, slaughter, drive into slavery? Hitler was not yet ready, but Mussolini was. Mussolini had to be. His people were growing restless. Fascism hadn’t produced the heaven on Earth
that he had promised them. So he pulled the old trick of launching a
foreign war to divert attention from troubles at home. So Mussolini beat his chest like Tarzan and
looked around for a worthy foe. He found one, Ethiopia. [beat of drums] A good country for the beginning of a glorious
empire. Its army had no machine guns. Its army had no tanks. Its army did have an air force, exactly one
old aeroplane. One aeroplane against a nation which had developed
a new theory of total air war. Of the blitz which would wipe out cities,
destroy civilians, man, woman and child. In October of 1935, following the Japanese
example, an incident was provoked at the little settlement of Welwel near the
border of Ethiopia and Italian Somaliland. Italy’s honor had been violated. Refusing any arbitration, Mussolini moved
the whole might of his army through the Suez Canal to overrun the undefended country. Ethiopia’s Emperor Haile Selassie appeared
before the League of Nations. [foreign language] – “I must still fight on until my tardy allies
appear, and if they never come, I say to you without bitterness, the West will perish.” [inaudible chatter] Members of the League half-heartedly stopped
trading with Italy, but refused the only thing that will stop any aggressor, force. [heavy drum] Ethiopia was left to herself. Native leaders came to pledge their allegiance. [foreign language] – The people of Ethiopia, with their spears
and bare hands, faced the guns and the tanks of the invaders, fighting desperately and
gallantly to save their country from conquest. [explosions] [airplane engine noises] [whistle of bombs dropping] [explosions] They fought, and they died. But in the end, there could be but one result. Might triumphed. Italy conquered Ethiopia. Many of our elected leaders warned us of danger. – [Franklin] Without a declaration of war
and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of
women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air. – But we were still hypnotized by the fact
that two broad oceans stood between us and the rest of the world. We didn’t realize that the time when months
were needed to span these oceans was ended. That the steam ship had cut these months to
days, and that now the whole Earth’s surface could be covered in the space of hours. Yes, we were a nation that wanted peace. But we hadn’t yet learned that peace for us
depends on peace for all. Nobody would run the risk of war because of
some mud huts and barren plains in Ethiopia, anymore than we would run the risk for some
similar huts and plains in Manchuria. Correctly interpreting our attitude, the aggressors
were all but sure that they could get what they wanted. Japan had started on her march of conquest. Italy had begun her new empire. And now the third gangster, what about him? We take him up in our next film, and show
how he joined his partners and put in his bid. For this is what we are fighting, freedom’s
oldest enemy, the passion of the few to rule the many. This isn’t just a war. This is a common man’s life-and-death struggle
against those who would put him back into slavery. We lose it, and we lose everything. Our homes, the jobs we want to go back to,
the books we read, the very food we eat, the hopes we have for our kids, the kids themselves. They won’t be ours anymore. That’s what’s at stake. It’s us or them. The chips are down. Two worlds stand against each other. One must die. One must live. One hundred and seventy years of freedom decrees
our answer. [singing] [music]

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