- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Nov 1939, p. 150-164
- Drew, Lieutenant-Colonel George A., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Understanding the nature of the victory that we hope to win. Being clear on our ideas as to why we are fighting and what it is we hope to accomplish. The victory of common sense and reason over the evil forces which Hitler has turned loose upon the world. A victory to be won not by arms alone, buy by courageous thinking and a clear vision of that international understanding which offers the only hope of lasting peace. Some words from Mr. Chamberlain and Monsieur Daladier. Peace, not armistice as the desired goal. War not with the German people, but against an evil system whose destruction will be as much a victory for the German people as for ourselves. The argument that there is some innate brutality in the German mind which has found its most recent expression in the torpedoing of the Athenia, the bombing of open cities and the callous disregard of international law and human decency shown in the last few days as they have placed mines in the paths of neutral ships. The speaker's response to this argument. The difficulty of over-simplification raised by this subject. Previous division of thought over this issue. An examination of some of the really remarkable parallels to the present situation which can be found from earlier records. Wellington at Waterloo as an analogy, substituting "German" for "French" and "Hitler" for "Bonaparte." Answering demands for punitive action. The result of the negotiated peace Wellington insisted upon, and the lesson it shows us. Looking forward, after this war, to a lasting friendship with Germany when Hitler and his adherents have been destroyed. The importance of making this position clear to the German people. Also making it clear to the German people that we are fighting against Communism as well and as equally as against Naziism. The hope that the German people themselves will remove Hitler from power and set up a government which will be prepared to lay the foundation for a lasting peace. Stalin's purpose. The crowning genius of British culture that even the most savage tribes have been treated as friends. The British way.
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- 23 Nov 1939
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THE ROAD TO VICTORY
AN ADDRESS BY
LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GEORGE A. DREW, K. C., M. P. P.
Chairman: The President, Dr. F. A. Gaby
Thursday, November 23, 1939
THE PRESIDENT: Distinguished Guests, Gentlemen: We are most fortunate in having with us today as our guest-speaker, Lieutenant-Colonel George A. Drew, a native son, and a distinguished citizen. Colonel Drew, in October 1935, addressed this Club, and the subject of his address had a prophetic import when he spoke on "Germany Prepares for Conquest".
I became acquainted with Colonel Drew seventeen years ago when he was an active member of the City Council of Guelph, from 1922 to 1924, and when he was honoured by being elected Mayor of that city in 1925. When I say "active", I mean it in every respect, from my experience. Shortly afterward he came to Toronto to enter larger fields of service.
Colonel Drew's excellent military career throughout the last war and since, in command of the Artillery Brigade of Guelph, is well known to the citizens of Canada. This, along with his keen interest in all matters of public affairs has led him to choose a life of public service.
Colonel Drew has also distinguished himself in the journalistic field and on many occasions has championed the interests of the public. He has written a number of interesting books on Canada's part in the Great War, and he has been a contributor to various Canadian publications of timely, searching articles. He has been a real crusader in this respect. I have, therefore, much pleasure in introducing to you today, Colonel Drew, whose subject will be "The Road to Victory". (Applause)
LIEUT.-COLONEL GEORGE A. DREW, K.C., M.P.P.: Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen: When I last spoke to the Empire Club, in spite of the fact that there was a terrifying threat of war, I believe that, we all hoped then that the madness which had been growing in Europe could be restrained. In that short time all the forces of destruction which had been piling up have been let loose and now we face an issue which, in its implications, is far greater and goes far deeper than any mere question of winning on the field of battle. Today, I am not going to talk about the way in which the war may be won by the impact of armies or of navies or of air forces. I am going to talk about another aspect of the victory toward which we must now look.
It may seem very easy to talk of victory when we in Canada have scarcely started to fight. I believe, however, that we should talk of victory and that we should at the very outset try to understand the nature of the victory that we hope to win. If this is a war of ideas, as we have been told and as I think we believe, then we must get our ideas clear and remember why we are fighting and what it is we hope to accomplish. Only in that way can we chart a safe course on the journey that we have now undertaken.
I think the first thing that we must get clear in our minds is that we are not seeking a victory of domination. We should have before us no visions of triumphal arches and banners flying in the land of a conquered enemy. The victory to which our minds should be directed is the victory of common sense and reason over the evil forces which Hitler has turned loose upon the world. The victory is not to be won by arms alone, but by courageous thinking and a clear vision of that international understanding which offers the only hope of lasting peace. Mr. Chamberlain put it in these words in the House of Commons on October 12th: "We are not aiming only at victory, but rather looking beyond it to the laying of a foundation of a better international system, which will mean that war is not to be the inevitable lot of every succeeding generation." Two days earlier, Monsieur Daladier had condensed the same thought into these words: "We want our victory to create only a Europe freed from all threat of aggression."
In simple terms, that appears to be the victory that all thinking people do wish to achieve. It is a peace which will last, not merely an armistice. Mr. Chamberlain went further, and he said: "The peace which we are determined to secure must be a real and settled peace, not an uneasy truce interrupted by constant alarms and repeated threats. What stands in the way of such a peace? It is the German Government and the German Government alone." Those were the words of Mr. Chamberlain. "It is the German Government, and the German Government alone, for it is they by repeated acts of aggression who have robbed all Europe of tranquillity and implanted in the hearts of all their neighbours an ever-present sense of insecurity and fear."
Now, Gentlemen, from the very beginning, Mr. Chamberlain and Monsieur Daladier have made it clear that in their opinion it is not the German people as individuals with whom we are at war, but rather with an evil system whose destruction will be as much a victory for the German people as for ourselves. On September 1st, Mr. Chamberlain said in the House of Commons: "We have no quarrel with the German people, except that they allowed themselves to be governed by a Nazi Government." Then, on September 4th, in a broadcast direct to the German people, he said this: "In this war we are not fighting against you, the German people, for whom we have no bitter feeling, but against a tyrannous and foresworn regime which has betrayed not only its own people, but the whole of western civilization and all that you and we hold dear."
Monsieur Daladier echoed this sentiment as have the Prime Mnisters of Canada and the other British Dominions. But there are other opinions, and those opinions cannot be ignored. There are those who say in the utmost sincerity that what has launched this new war upon the world is the mad dream of conquest which has been bred in the German people for more than a century. They argue that there is some innate brutality in the German mind which has found its most recent expression in the torpedoing of the Athenia, the bombing of open cities and the callous disregard of international law and human decency shown in the last few days as they have placed mines in the paths of neutral ships.
Now, Gentlemen, these arguments do seem sound. It does seem reasonably arguable that this unmerciful type of warfare, so similar to that waged by the Germans during the last war, is a national characteristic, and not something for which Hitler and his associates can be alone blamed. There are many who disagree with Mr. Chamberlain and M. Daladier when they say we are not fighting against the German people. They argue, and there are very many who do, that we must destroy this spirit in the German people, and that we must fight this war to the bitter end, so that this doctrine of force, bred into the German people, may be driven out of them forever.
Gentlemen, that argument cannot be ignored. It has reached such proportions that it will not be disposed of by the simple statement that the heads of all the Allied Governments have expressed a contrary view and have made it clear that they do not believe we are fighting the German people-and let us still remember that it has never been suggested in democracies that the heads of governments were infallible. Those holding contrary opinions have a right to express them and, in view of the fact that they are being so extensively expressed, I suggest it is important that we try to come to some conclusion on this subject. If it is considered sufficiently important for those who speak officially for their nations to place such emphasis on the fact that we are fighting Hitler and Naziism rather than the German people, then it is equally important that we consider the wide-spread contention that this statement is not correct and that we are fighting the German people and must continue to do so until their ambitions of conquest have been cured by force of arms forever.
Now, one of the difficulties raised by much of the discussion of this subject has been an obvious tendency to 'over-simplification. It is, of course, obvious that it is the German people we are really fighting in the physical sense. Our armies will be engaged with millions of Germans, all of whom are armed, and all of whom will, for the present, fight. But it was perfectly clear when Mr. Chamberlain said we were not fighting the German people, he meant something more than that. His words make it clear that in his opinion we are not fighting Germans, merely because they are Germans, but that we are fighting the German soldiers, as representatives of the Nazi system, and when that vile system is destroyed we see no reason why we cannot make peace with the German people under some other form of government.
That was the position we took ourselves, right up to the time the war came. If our purpose is to destroy some evil spirit in the German people which has been there for a hundred years, then, Gentlemen, peace was impossible in any event, except by war. That I cannot believe. To accept that doctrine would mean that we must change the hearts and minds of eighty million people and impose our will upon them by force of arms. That was not the purpose for which we went into this war. Our purpose was to join in an attempt to restore freedom and international justice. If they are to be restored they must be restored for Germany as well as for ourselves.
I prefer to accept those words of Mr. Chamberlain as correctly defining the purpose we should keep in mind, "It is no part of our' policy to exclude from her rightful place in Europe a Germany which will live in amity and confidence with other nations. On the contrary, we believe that no effective remedy can be found for the world's ills that does not take account of the just claims and needs of all countries, and whenever the time may come to draw the lines of a new peace settlement, His Majesty's Government would feel that the future would hold little hope unless such a settlement could be reached through the method of negotiation and agreement."
Now, those words, I think, are worth remembering. In them there is no suggestion of a dictated peace which will end for all time the German spirit of military aggression. In these words there is no thought that it is our duty to chastise the whole German nation. On the contrary, there is the simple conviction that if Hitler and what he stands for are destroyed the German people will be ready to join in an effort to preserve European civilization by friendly co-operation.
We are told from many quarters, and no one can question the sincerity of the opinions expressed, that history teaches the folly of placing any trust in German friendship, 'and that we should now finish the job we left unfinished in 1918, and beat Germany so decisively this time that they will not again have any belief in their own strength. I hold a contrary opinion. Quite apart from the fact that this seems to me to be an extremely dangerous undertaking I am convinced that history teaches us the very opposite.
This is not the first time there has been a sharp division of thought on this very subject. One hundred and twenty-four years ago, when Wellington and his Allies defeated Napoleon at Waterloo and were the masters of France, the debate on this very issue reached an intensity and bitterness not yet approached during the present war.
Because of what happened afterwards, and because I think it has so many valuable lessons for us today, I would like to recall some of the really remarkable parallels to the present situation which we can find from the records of those days. Long before the Battle of Waterloo, Wellington conveyed to the French through Marshall Marmont, his conviction that the British army did not believe they were fighting the French people. He used these exact words which might have been uttered today: "Nous sommes les ennemis d'un seul homme, et de ses adherens." September 3, 1939, was not the first time in history that the spokesman for the British nation said, "We are the enemies of a single man, and of his adherents". It was Wellington's opinion that he was fighting Napoleon Bonaparte and Bonapartism, not the French people. He stuck to that opinion until the war was over, although there were many who disagreed with him very vigorously and who argued in words strangely familiar, that the French people who had accepted Bonaparte as their leader for so long could not be absolved from responsibility for his insane ambitions which had devastated Europe. With all the bitterness, so familiar to us today, they argued that a war-like people should be taught a lasting lesson which would end wars of aggression forever.
After Waterloo, Wellington faced strong opposition in this opinion. It was pointed out through the press and by public men in the House and outside, that France and Britain had been hereditary enemies for centuries, and that the French people must be forced to accept the responsibility for the devastation wrought by Napoleon, the man whom they had kept in power.
As the debate grew warm, Wellington submitted a memorandum to the British Prime Minister, stating his case. Let me quote briefly from it, and I suggest that if we substitute the word "German" for "French", and the word "Hitler" for "Bonaparte", it might have been written today and could have been spoken today with the utmost emphasis. Answering the demands that were being made for punitive action against France following their tremendous victory at Waterloo, Wellington said this: "It will defeat the object which the Allies have held out to themselves in the present and preceding wars. That which has been their object has been to put an end to the French Revolution, to obtain peace for themselves and their people, to have the power of reducing their overgrown military establishments, and the leisure to attend to the internal concerns of their several nations, and to improve the situation of their people." Then, mark these words: "The Allies took up arms against Bonaparte because it was certain that the world could not be at peace as long as he should possess, or should be in a situation to attain supreme power in France; and care must be taken in making the arrangements consequent upon our success that we do not leave the world in the same unfortunate situation respecting France that it would have been in if Bonaparte had continued in possession of his power."
These remarkable words were written of a situation parallel to the one we now face, and after a victory as complete as the victory we hope to attain, but the argument didn't end there. It continued for some time and it was an argument strangely familiar to that which we are hearing today. In answer to further demands that the possibility of French aggression be prevented for all time, Wellington forwarded this second memorandum to the Prime Minister:
"If the policy of the united powers of Europe is to weaken France, let them do so in reality. Let them take from that country its population and resources as well as
a few fortresses. If they are not prepared for that decisive measure, if peace and tranquillity for a few years is their object, they must make an arrangement which will suit the interests of all the parties to it, and of which the justice and expediency will be so evident that they will tend to carry it into execution."
Wellington sought at the time of his supreme power in Britain and in Europe, as Chamberlain and Daladier are seeking today, not a dictated peace over an utterly defeated people at that particular time, but a negotiated peace, a peace of which the justice and expediency would be so evident that all nations would tend to carry it into execution.
Wellington, fortunately for us today, won his point. He was sent to France with plenipotentiary power to help in the setting up of a new government which would restore France to prosperity, not hold them in restraint. He played a great part in rebuilding the very nation which under Napoleon had spread devastation throughout Europe, had broken international law, and had embarked on a programme of just such unbridled conquest as Hitler has embarked on during these past two years.
What is the result? Let us remember our history. From 1066 until 1815 France and Britain had been constantly engaging in recurring wars. They had never at any time
been Allies. For 750 years France had appeared to be Britain's hereditary enemy. But in 1815 all that was changed and as a result of what? As a result of the friendly assistance given to a defeated enemy. As a result of that assistance, France and Britain established a lasting friendship which has grown year by year, until at the present time they are sealing it with their blood. It is such a friendship between nations as the world has never before seen. (Applause) If Wellington's contentions had not prevailed, and it should be remembered now that he barely won his point in the long argument, there is little likelihood that one of the most remarkable international friendships of all history would have been established.
I think, Gentlemen, there is a lesson of the most vital importance for us today in that very simple fact. Wellington insisted upon following through to its logical conclusion his contention that the British were fighting a single man and his adherents and not the French people. In spite of excesses by Bonaparte as great as any we are seeing today, he stuck to his point, and because that principle was accepted, nations which had been enemies for centuries became eternal friends. Now, those two nations are fighting a nation which also appears to be an hereditary enemy, just as France appeared to be the hereditary enemy of Britain in 1815, and the leaders of Britain and France are saying today, as Wellington said in 1815, "We are fighting one man and his adherents! We are not fighting the German people."
I believe that if we keep that principle clearly in our minds and make it equally clear to the German people that we believe in that principle and will stick to it, we may look forward after this war to a lasting friendship with Germany when we have destroyed Hitler and his adherents, as Wellington destroyed Bonaparte and his adherents in 1815. (Applause) No one questioned the sincerity of those who opposed Wellington's argument in 1815. No one should question the sincerity of those who do. not agree with Chamberlain, Daladier and the Prime Ministers of the British Dominions today, but I believe that the teaching of history is manifestly clear. I believe it shows without any doubt the course that our thinking should follow.
No matter how strong the temptation may be with the daily record of atrocities at sea and in the air, I do not believe that hatred of the German people is in any way necessary to produce our maximum effort. Hatred is part and parcel of the Nazi system. I do not believe we will help our cause by imitating their methods. I am convinced that our men and women will put forth their best effort if they believe in the rightness of their cause and have the hope, the honest hope, that the victory which they expect to win will bring lasting peace. That can only happen if the justice of that peace is so evident that it will be acceptable, not only to ourselves but to the German people as well.
There is another reason why I think it is extremely important that we should make our position clear to the German people. I am convinced that nothing will so strongly unite the Germans as the belief that the French and British hate the German people as a race. I believe that if the German people can be convinced by quotations from speeches, or statements of leaders in the British and French countries, that we hate the German people and =seek to destroy something of Germany itself, then it seems to me that they have no course but to stand together to the bitter end. I believe that if the German people are convinced that we are ready to make a favourable peace and extend the hand of friendship, as Britain did to France in 1815, then they are very likely to remove Hitler and his adherents and set up a government with which we can make peace.
I believe it is necessary and desirable that we should be equally clear on something else. We were told by Mr. Chamberlain on the day that Britain went to war: "It is evil things that we shall be fighting against--brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution". That, I implicitly believe, is exactly what we are fighting for. We are fighting for freedom as opposed to slavery; we are fighting for civilization as opposed to barbarism; we are fighting for the religious concept of life as opposed to ruthless paganism. If that is so, then there can be no compromise at any time with Hitler and what he stands for. Naziism must be destroyed. But, Gentlemen, if it is evil things that we are fighting against, then I do not see how we can throw into the awful arbitrements of war everything we possess for the purpose of destroying Naziism, unless we are prepared to say with equal force that we will not compromise now or at any other time with that vile thing... known as Communism. (Applause) I believe it is of the utmost importance that we make it abundantly clear to the German people that, while we have no intention of dictating to Russia what form of government must be adopted in Russia, we are determined that Asiatic Barbarism will not sweep westward and overrun the cradle of civilization.
While the original Nazi programme, and Hitler's declaration of policy in "Mein Kampf" set up clear reasons for his claim to power, other than Communism. it should be remembered that all the evidence is clear that Hitler came to power in 1933 almost solely upon the ground that he was going to keep Communism out of Germany and out of Europe. Not only the great industrialists of Europe and the Reich, but the solid, simple, working people throughout the whole of Germany were terrified by the increasing strength of the Communist Party and they were determined to prevent a repetition of the horrors of the Communist Governments which they had seen set up immediately after the Great War in Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony and Wurtemberg. That was why Hitler came to power and we should remember it today.
When we are told by those who have been in Germany recently that they believe the German people are solidly behind Hitler, we should remember that when those people saw Germany last, the German people still implicitly believed that Hitler was going to keep Communism out of Germany, and that he was prepared to fight Communism, not only in Germany but elsewhere in Europe. That was the reason the Germans have been given for the loss of the lives of young Germans in the conquered Division which he sent to Spain. Even if most German people were supporters of Hitler last summer, and personally I do not believe they were, even if they were, the whole situation changed in Germany on August 26th, when the agreement was signed with Russia. For six and a half years all the power of the mighty German propaganda machine had been convincing the German people that Communism was the greatest enemy of mankind. As late as February 28th of this year, Hitler said in the Reichstag amid great cheers
"We have not sought relations with one particular state and do not wish to enter into closer relations with it. This state is Soviet Russia." And in the official record of his speech loud applause is recorded after that statement--loud applause by the Deputies sitting in the Reichstag, only last spring. Then he went on: "More than ever we look on Bolshevism as the incarnation of the human lust of destruction. It is not we who are seeking contact with Bolshevism. We are inexorable enemies."
Inexorable enemies of the people he had described as the scum of the earth. Do you think that the German people are going to forget those statements over night, simply because Herr Hitler now tells them that there is no reason why Communism and Hitlerism should not stand side by side? No matter how low our opinion may be of the will power of a people who submitted to the domination of this man, 'the fact remains that the German people are intelligent, thinking people. Denied any news from the outside world, submitting to the control of radio and the press, they had no way of knowing what was going on, and it is not surprising that even the most intelligent of them in many cases accepted the nonsense that they were being taught, but you cannot remove from the minds of intelligent people the recollection of six and a half years steady teaching that Communism was the greatest enemy of man. They are not going to forget that. They haven't forgotten it. Hitler rose to power because the German people believed that he would protect them from Communism. Now they see Communist armies standing side by side with their own on their eastern frontiers and Communists are being tolerated in Germany once again. If the German people become convinced that the Allies really will protect Germany from Communism, as Hitler promised to do, six and a half years ago, then, Gentlemen, I am convinced they will drive Hitler from power for the very same reason they put him into power in January, 1933.
Now, I would not wish anything I have said to be taken as a suggestion that it is not necessary for us to prepare to fight this war to the very limit of our man power and resources. The mere evidence of our preparedness and our willingness to fight and keep on fighting to the bitter end will, I am sure, have a profound effect in Germany. But I am convinced that whether it be soon or whether it be late, there is a very real hope that the German people themselves will remove Hitler from power and set up a government which will be prepared to lay the foundation for a lasting peace, if we keep our purpose clear and convey that purpose in understanding terms to them.
I am the very last to suggest that we should not strain every effort to build up the most powerful fighting machine that we have ever had, but I think, for the reasons I have stated, that if we make it clear to the Germans that our war is not with them because they are Germans, but against Hitler and his adherents, and also make it equally clear that we are as strongly opposed to Communism as they were when they raised Hitler to power, then I think we will have travelled a very long way along the road to victory.
There has been a wide-spread conviction that another world war would destroy western civilization. That may be nearer than we think. We must remember that no attempt has yet been made to unleash the might machines of destruction against cities which have in their keeping the treasured records of man's upward struggle through the centuries. The dark shadow of Communism spreads westward over Europe. The hungry and enslaved people of Russia are at this moment a menace only to their cruel overlords. But Stalin waits in the hope that Britain and France, Germany and Italy, will pound each other to exhaustion. That was why he precipitated the war by his agreement with Germany. He knows his people are ready for revolution, but he knows also that nothing will so quickly unify a desperate and starving people as the prospect of rich plunder. Stalin waits and hopes that the time will soon come when his Asiatic Barbarism can sweep over the ruins of Christian civilization. That is his dream. That was his purpose when Molotov and Von Ribbentrop signed the agreement in Moscow on August 26th. Before we decide that German arrogance must be crushed forever, it would be wise to pause and consider whether it is not the very thing for which the arch-enemy of God, sitting in the Kremlin, is anxiously waiting and hoping.
We want no Pyrrhic victory. If our own funeral pyre is to blaze in triumph above the ashes of a ruined Germany, it will be small comfort that we have destroyed their dreams of conquest. All our past teaches us something very different. It has been the crowning genius of British culture that even the most savage tribes have been treated as friends. That friendship has brought us friendship in return. Never in the world's long history has there been more dramatic proof of the practical value of this simple Christian principle than that which we recently received from South Africa (Applause), when a man who was once our bitter enemy threw all his powerful support behind the British Empire at the time the British Empire needed that help. We have good reason in Canada to keep in our minds the sublime spirit of that great soldier, General Jan Christian Smuts. That man, once an enemy, stands for all the decent things we wish to preserve.
Gentlemen, we can be quite sure of one thing, amidst all the doubts. We have seen the end of one epoch in human history. I would close by repeating Mr. Chamberlain's words: "We are not aiming only at victory, but rather looking beyond it to the laying of the foundation of a better international system which will mean that war is not to be the inevitable lot of every succeeding generation". We are engaged today in a great spiritual adventure. We must meet that adventure with intellectual as well as physical courage. With all our strength we should strive to overcome our enemy, but with a clear purpose and without hatred. That is the British way and I believe the British way is still the best. (Applause-prolonged)
THE PRESIDENT: Gentlemen, the Honourable Mr. Conant has kindly consented to extend on your behalf, our expression of thanks.
HONOURABLE GORDON CONANT: Mr. President and Gentlemen: When I first every hurriedly glanced at this card and saw the subject of Colonel Drew's address today, it appeared to me unwise and indeed unsafe that I should be present, indicating as it did the plans that were made for some procedure of which I might be one of the victims, one of the vanquished. But I was glad that my first impression was wrong and that it has been my privilege and pleasure to be present and hear this very able address today. On other occasions and at other times, and in a very different setting, I have had occasion to follow Colonel Drew with remarks that perhaps weren't exactly complimentary or agreeable. He might use even more vigorous words in expressing his opinion. You may rest content nothing like that will occur today because on this occasion, having in mind the best interests of the nation and of the British Empire at this time and in this emergency.
Gentlemen, we have listened to a very able address, a thought-provoking address, perhaps a discussion-provoking address, and through the kindness of your very excellent President, as his substitute, perhaps more correctly, I have great pleasure in extending to Colonel Drew the thanks of the Empire Club of Canada. (Applause)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Conant. We are very grateful to you, Colonel Drew, for this fine address, and I extend to you our thanks and appreciation, so ably expressed by Mr. Conant. (Applause)