- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 28 Nov 1968, p. 86-98
- Drew, Hon. George, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The situation in the U.S.S.R. with Brezhnev's declaration that "every Communist state must adhere and submit to the policies and doctrines of the Kremlin or be subjected to the same military discipline as Czechoslovakia experienced last August." The speaker's warning of the significance of this event to world history, in the face of the seriousness of the threat, and the little attention it has attracted. What makes this event so serious and threatening to the free world. Some reminders from history. The situation in East Germany. Evidence of Russia's intentions and methods. The attitude of the Russian people and the immense importance of that attitude. The speaker's belief that the Russian people will in time be allies of the West. Brezhnev's threats. The international situation as it really is from the Canadian point of view. Canada's role in NATO and the continuing importance of that role, and that organization. Withstanding the Soviet threat. The Price of peace for Canadians and all free nations.
- Date of Original
- 28 Nov 1968
- Language of Item
- Copyright Statement
- The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
- Empire Club of CanadaEmail
Agency street/mail address
Fairmont Royal York Hotel
100 Front Street West, Floor H
Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3
- Full Text
NOVEMBER 28, 1968
The Price of Peace
AN ADDRESS BY Hon. George Drew, P.C., C.C., C.D., Q.C., LL.D., PAST PRESIDENT OF THE EMPIRE CLUB OF CANADA
CHAIRMAN The President, Edward B. Jolliffe, Q.C.
In its history of three score years and five, since November 18,1903, The Empire Club of Canada has had 65 Presidents. Time has taken its toll; the majority are no longer with us, but they are not forgotten.
Apart from those I have already introduced, we heartily welcome to our meeting today a number of those who have given great service in the past, and I would ask them each to rise and take a bow.
Our honoured guest today, the Senior Past President of the Club, is a most distinguished Canadian. His name has been a household word since the early 20s when he began to publish fascinating accounts of the fabulous exploits of Canadian fliers in the First World War. He had served as an artillery officer in that war and was wounded in France.
It would take a long time to recite the services he subsequently performed and the offices he held. I shall mention only a few.
He was Mayor of Guelph, Chairman of the Ontario Securities Commission, Master of the Supreme Court of Ontario, member of the Ontario Legislature, Leader of the Opposition at Queen's Park, 1939 to 1943, Prime Minister of Ontario from 1943 to 1948, National Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party from 1948 to 1956.
In 1957 he was appointed Canadian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, where he served this country with great distinction. When a new Government took office in 1963 he was asked to continue representing Canada in London and he did so for some time.
As we all know, Col. Drew's career has been marked by many other achievements, as a vigorous writer and speaker, as a soldier with a great interest in military affairs, as a Governor of the University of Toronto, Chancellor of the University of Guelph, as a world traveller and business man.
He has spoken to this Club on 15 occasions since 1933, and he was our President in 1932-33. Gentlemen, you will now hear from our Senior Past President, Col. the Hon. George A. Drew.
We meet today during one of the most critical periods of the world's history. Let no one who cherishes his own freedom ignore the dreadful truth before our eyes.
Within the past two weeks an equally arrogant dictator has adopted Hitler's methods. With all the military power of the Russian Empire behind him, Brezhnev has made the dramatic but very simple declaration that every Communist state must adhere and submit to the policies and doctrines of the Kremlin or be subjected to the same military discipline as Czechoslovakia experienced last August.
Never before at any time has the head of any state--not even Hitler--declared without reservation that all nations associated with his must submit to whatever course of action may be dictated by the master state.
What with the strident verbal conflict about Vietnam, student riots, and the Grey Cup Game next Saturday, this threat, with its world-wide implications, seems to have attracted comparatively little attention. And yet the whole future of the free world is at stake. Even the madman of Berchtesgaden never openly proclaimed such an abject form of national slavery.
Never at any time since 1945 has the need for collective action by the free nations, by every means within their power, to avert another world war been so apparent. The whole of mankind desires peace, particularly with the dreadful possibilities of nuclear war.
When Russia invaded Czechoslovakia on August 21st last, the events of the days that followed bore a sickening similarity to the German invasion of Czechoslovakia thirty years ago, and of Belgium in 1914. Germany tore up every solemn covenant they had signed when they invaded the country which, of all the parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, was giving the finest example of real democracy. Hitler explained that this was not an invasion but that they were restoring the people of Czechoslovakia to the land of which they had been a part for a thousand years. They had, of course, never been a part of Germany. The Czechs and the Slovaks who were working together in peace and harmony with such remarkable success both had traditions of freedom, culture and selfgovernment which went back for centuries before Germany was anything but a group of warring tribes. But that bare-faced lie was nothing compared with the explanation given by Brezhnev when Russia and four of her slave states invaded Czechoslovakia with hundreds of thousands of heavily-armed troops last August. He told the people of that country, with its great traditions of freedom, that the invaders had come to protect them from imperialist designs.
As a liar Hitler was an amateur compared with Brezhnev. Perhaps that should only be expected by a head of a state which has adopted lying as a well-established feature of its official foreign policy. As an example, only yesterday Jacob Malik, the Russian representative at the United Nations, shouted angrily at the United States representative, Stuart Symington, "We rescued the American people from enslavement by the Nazis. We paid a high price for this the flower of our youth." What outrageous nonsense. Hitler felt free to start the last war only when he and Stalin had signed a mutual non-aggression pact on August 26th, 1939, under which Russia and Germany declared their everlasting mutual friendship and pledged a policy of non-aggression between their countries.
When Germany attacked Russia without warning on June 22nd, 1941 -and it is certain the Russians would never have been in the war at all if this had not happened it was the British and Canadians who saved Russia by the bombing of key production centres and the supply of essential equipment of all kinds by ships which ran the gauntlet of German submarines in the Atlantic and the narrow waters of the Baltic.
A major part of the vitally important equipment sent to Russia through the Baltic and the Mediterranean was produced in the United States and shipped from Canada. Without this equipment and the British and Canadian bombing of the synthetic oil plants in Germany, which supplied the fuel for the German tanks and aircraft, Germany would have broken through to the Baku oilfields, and the war would have been over for Russia. That military equipment was carried by Canadian and British ships from our eastern ports, with the loss of many gallant young Canadians in the ships that were sunk in carrying out this task. I also well remember seeing Russian pilots at Prestwick in large numbers, waiting to pick up aircraft made in the United States which were flown across the Atlantic by Canadians and then turned over to the Russians at that point.
When Malik tells the United Nations, and through the press the whole world, that they saved the American people from enslavement, many of our young people naturally do not know that this is an unqualified lie, and that Stalingrad could not have been defended, the Baku oilfields saved, and Russia kept in the war, if it had not been for Britain, Canada, and the United States.
Russia did pay a high price. They paid the price of their own treachery when they signed the friendship pact with Germany in August 1939, at a time when they were discussing military arrangements with Britain and with France.
This bare-faced lie of Malik's before the United Nations also reminds us that young Canadians should be told of the supremely gallant service of young Canadians during the last war, in the air and at sea, who paid a very high price, in so many cases the highest price of all, to save Russia from defeat.
We were told that the Russians had been joined in the worthy cause of invading Czechoslovakia by the hard-line supporters of true Communism. Let us just recall for a moment who these so-called supporters were. The largest was Poland. In that country it is hard to find any Pole who does not hate the Russians. They have not forgotten the Katyn murders, nor have they forgotten the almost unparalleled betrayal of the people of Warsaw by the Russian Army. Poland would separate from Russia tomorrow if it were not for the vastly superior armed might of Russian imperial power.
Then let us look at East Germany. Their people love Communism and Russia so much that a thousand refugees a day were crossing from East to West Germany until the Berlin Wall was built a few years ago, not to keep West Germans out of East Germany but to prevent the East Germans escaping from the scourge of Communism. Certainly one of the most imaginative examples of the kind of lying which is an established part of Russian foreign policy was the charge that West Germany was showing signs of militarism which Russia could not ignore.
The truth is that if you want to see real militarism in Europe today, the place to go is East Berlin. Last summer I saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the Unter den Linden. It brought back chilling memories of troops of the Wehrmacht that I had seen at the very same place in the years before the last war. Helmeted troops in dull green uniforms did the famous goose-step with all the exaggerated movements of the men who served under Hitler. As their feet slammed down on the stone pavement, old memories of German militarism reminded me vividly of the days when the offices of Hitler, Goering, Ribbentrop, Goebbels and all that crew of murderers were only a few hundred yards away. Now you see the same militarism encouraged by the occupying Russian forces with the approval of the new Hitler in the Kremlin.
I do wish to emphasize that this was in East Berlin, not in the West. I would also emphasize that at least 90% of all the Germans in East Germany are anti-Communist, but must obey the orders which are enforced by some twenty divisions of Russian troops.
Another of the states we are told supported Russia in the invasion of Czechoslovakia is Hungary. Need I say more? There is no moderately informed person in the whole world who is not aware of the deep and abiding hatred of the Hungarians for the Russians who shot them down in cold blood when they also sought to assert some measure of freedom twelve years ago.
Now we are informed that Russia does not propose to allow any of the associated Communist states to depart from their understanding of true Communism. These are the people who talk about imperialism. The only real imperialists today, in the sense in which they use that word, are the Russians themselves who are setting up a form of imperialism not known elsewhere for centuries. They have the sublime effrontery to claim that they and their puppet states invaded Czechoslovakia to protect them from imperialist interference. Now in this past week, Russia is politely asked to give their explanation to the United Nations of their legal right to enter Czechoslovakia. If the whole situation were not so deadly serious, this would be the best joke of the year. It is comparable to a request to Al Capone to give a legal justification for the Valentine Day murders in Chicago.
It was cold, murderous suppression of the modest measure of freedom which Czechoslovakia had established under Dubcek. But after all we must remember that it is freedom which the Russians fear most of all. They fear freedom for a reason which we should never for a moment forget. There has been a tremendous change in Russia in the past ten years. The Russian people are increasingly friendly toward the West. Their contacts with the West have been extended greatly, and their friendship shows itself in many ways. You find them most anxious to talk about life in the democracies. There are few gifts which they cherish more than books printed in the West which may be given to them by visitors.
I saw one very striking example of how their attitude toward the West has changed. I was in Moscow when President Kennedy made his famous speech demanding the Russian withdrawal of the rocket bases from Cuba. His words were heard clearly over the radio. And yet there was no sign of animosity toward those like myself who certainly would not be taken for Russians. Any sign of crisis was in London, not in Moscow. That morning when I visited the Kremlin, I found no sign of anything but friendliness and courtesy.
I mention this because the attitude of the Russian people themselves is of immense importance. I believe that they will in time be our strongest allies, along with the people of Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany and of all the other slave states.
The recent meeting of Communist Parties in Budapest was one of the strangest episodes in the history of that party. Only three months ago Communists all over the world expressed their outrage and dismay when the Soviet imperialists invaded Czechoslovakia. Representatives of Communist states which attended that meeting knew that the Soviet Army had moved in, not to save Communists from any outside influences, but rather to impose the monolithic form of Soviet imperialism as an example to any other Communist state which might show some signs of a return to freedom. Leonid Brezhnev proclaimed his new and historic doctrine that Soviet armed force will intervene to prevent any Communist state from disregarding the political doctrines of the Kremlin. In effect he declared that no government in any Communist state had any right to reach its own decisions in regard to the social, economic and political life of its people. In that speech he wiped out any pretence of national freedom within the Communist Empire.
Brezhnev's threat of military force against any heretical Communist state does create a massive power bloc which may appear to give the Soviet empire dominating power over the rest of the world. But Brezhnev himself has demonstrated that this apparent power is in truth an illusion. Communist Parties all over the world were outraged by the brute force employed in Czechoslovakia.
Now let us examine from the Canadian point of view the international situation as it really is. We are told that only the balance of nuclear terror saves us from another world war, and that for this reason such organizations as NATO, SEATO and NORAD are no longer effective.
No more dangerous doctrine could be preached by supposedly responsible men. Those of us who have lived through two world wars remember that if there was one lesson which it was universally agreed those wars had taught, it was the vital necessity for free nations to stand together in effective readiness to defend their freedom against an aggressor.
When the First War ended, fifty years ago this month, there was general agreement that if the Kaiser and his military advisers had known in advance that the free nations of the world would stand together to prevent the dream of Deutschland uber Alles ever coming true, there would have been no war. It was in that belief that the League of Nations was formed in 1919. Its dominating purpose was to preserve peace by collective action. That ideal was never achieved. Hitler began the Second World War in 1939 because of his belief that the free nations would not act together to preserve their freedom. Again it was only after the most deadly and costly war in all history that the free nations again asserted their belief in the power of united action to restrain an aggressor, and the United Nations was organized with that principle as its keystone.
When that war ended, it was accepted as an undisputed fact that it would never have started if Hitler had known in advance that he would be facing the combined power of all the nations which in the end were ranged against him.
If all those millions who died to preserve freedom could send a message to us, I am sure it would be never to forget that only by unity of purpose and action, declared in advance supported by adequate preparations and equipment to meet the threat of aggression, can an aggressor be restrained and freedom preserved.
In the face of naked aggression such as we have seen in the last few months, surely this is no time for anyone with any knowledge of history and sense of responsibility to be advocating a reduction of NATO or other similar forces by ourselves or any of those free nations with which we are associated.
Unhappily we know only too well that there will be no collective enforcement of peace by the United Nations. Quite apart from any other consideration, there are too many puppet states of the Soviet empire who are members of the United Nations whose vote has the same power as if they were in fact free, sovereign states. Any illusion about this tragic farce was shattered by Brezhnev's unqualified statement two weeks ago that every Communist state must follow the Kremlin line under the threat of military force.
There is too much tendency for people to say, "Well, there is nothing we can do about it." There is a great deal that each one of us can do. Thank God we are still a democracy and can express our own opinions. What we do will have its impact elsewhere. Evidence of our firm purpose to follow the principles accepted without question as the one hope of preserving peace will encourage others to accept that principle, whether already in NATO, SEATO or any other collective body organized for that purpose. It might well lead to the creation of a wider organization embracing all free nations, and at last carrying into international effect the primary purpose of the League of Nations and later the United Nations. Collective action along these lines is the only hope of preventing another holocaust which could destroy everything as we know it today.
Any uncertainty on our part or on the part of other members of NATO will encourage the dreams of brute imperialism so openly declared by those barbarians in the Kremlin who we should always remember are not truly representative of the Russian people.
First of all we must, of course, deal with our own position here in Canada. There are those who argue that ours is a minor contribution to the combined force of NATO. That is not only untrue, but it is an insult to the men who have served Canada so well in our NATO forces in Europe. Our contribution has in fact been of the greatest importance. During the seven years that I was in London I was in constant contact with our units in different parts of Europe. As a Canadian I was immensely proud of the impression they made on those with whom they came in contact. Year after year in the Air Division the units of the Royal Canadian Air Force won the annual competitions in aerobatics and firing at the NATO ranges in Sardinia. Our Army Brigade was also regarded as one of the best-trained and effective units among all of the NATO forces. On several occasions it won first place in the annual competitions in which units from NATO countries engaged in North Germany. Our naval contribution to the exercises in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean was very highly regarded by the other members of NATO. From frequent personal contacts over several years I know that no military units in Europe were held in higher regard than the Canadian units of the different branches of our service by both the military and civilian groups with whom they are in contact. It would have a serious effect on the morale of NATO as a whole if those splendid units were withdrawn or even reduced. But above all is the effect it would have on the principle of collective security which is the only promise of our survival as a free nation.
There are those who say that with nuclear power conventional units are no longer of vital importance. Unfortunately there are many wars going on at present where the necessity for those conventional forces is being demonstrated day by day.
What of the argument that short of the use of nuclear power there would be no hope of withstanding the Soviet threat? That is simply not true.
The combined population of the free nations of the world exceeds that of the Soviet Union. And from the point of view of the ability to defend ourselves, there are vitally important factors we should bear in mind if we are prepared to work together. The most important component of military equipment and weapons is steel. Bearing that in mind, it is important to remember that in 1967 the steel production of the recognized steel-making nations of the free world was 313,900,000 tons, whereas the total steel production of the Soviet empire was 102,200,000 tons. Our position in regard to other minerals as well as oil is equally or even more favourable. Given real unity of action and purpose and free nations are in a position to prevent war by demonstrating their ability to defend themselves by their superior power in men and material, if they make their purpose clear and leave no uncertainty.
One of the illusions which has affected some people's thinking about our part in NATO is the cost of maintaining our military units in Europe. It is used to suggest that we would save this amount if they were returned to Canada. That is not true. The air and army units are part of our permanent establishment which there is no thought of reducing. The saving by bringing these units back to Canada would be negligible. The administrative and pay costs would be the same. The maintenance is no higher, perhaps less, and the movement to and from Canada is merely part of our air transport exercise which would be carried out in any event.
Another illusion is that any strengthening of NATO would invite the possibility of military action. The truth is that the one thing above all else which might encourage aggression is the belief that we are not all prepared to take our part in clearly defined collective action.
Behind these figures of material strength there is, of course, the supremely important consideration of the spirit of the free nations.
We know that the Soviet Empire can be held together only by the threat of force, stated in such unqualified terms by Brezhnev two weeks ago.
That brings us to an examination of the spirit of our own people and its supreme importance in considering our part in the collective action required to preserve peace. There has never been any uncertainty about the spirit of our own people in the past. In peace and war they have demonstrated their initiative, energy and courage. Part of the price of the freedom we all so greatly cherish is that measure of self-discipline, decency, and co-operation which will give to any national undertaking the full strength of a dedicated people. At a time when we undoubtedly face one of the most dangerous situations with which we have ever been confronted, the united spirit of all our people will be the decisive factor.
For that reason, I do believe that Canadians should no longer ignore the organized attempts to destroy the educational structure upon which the strength of our country so largely depends, and in that way weaken the authority of the state and the unity of our people.
Of one thing let us be perfectly sure. If it should appear that the free democracies are not united for the purpose of collective security, or that the moral fibre of the free nations would not support the test of collective defence, then we would only be inviting the most disastrous war of all time by our apparent unwillingness to do those things which are necessary to give collective security real meaning. For each of us in our own way, that is the most important task which lies ahead.
The Price of Peace for ourselves and all free nations is our complete spiritual, physical and material dedication to the defence of peace and freedom in an effective organization for collective security.
Thanks of the meeting were expressed by Mr. E. A. Royce.