Prelude to War (1942) Movie Script

Causes and events leading up
to our entry in the war,
Well what are the causes?.
Why are we Americans on the march?.
Is it because of...
..Pearl Harbour?.
Is that why we are fighting?.
Is it because of Britain?.
Just what was it that made us to
change our way of living overnight?.
What turned our resources, our machines,
our whole nation into one vast arsine?.
Producing more and more weapons of war,
instead of the old materials of peace.
What put us into uniform, ready to
engage the enemy on every continent?.
And every ocean?.
This is a fight between a free world and a
slave world" Vice President Henry A. Wallace
What of these two worlds,
or 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.
Thou shall not covet that
which is they neighbours.
"Mankind is one community."
"What you do not want done to
yourself, so not do to others."
The truth shall make you free."
All believe in the sight of God,
all men were created equal.
And from that there developed a
spirit among men and nations,
that 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 corner-stone on which
our nation was built.
And the ideal of all the great liberators.
La Fayette
Lighthouses!. Lighting up a dark
and foggy world.
"Let 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 man
has fought, since time began.
To be free.
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, to be purchased at the price
of chains and slavery?.
Forbid itAlmighty God.
I know not what other course
one may take, but as for me,
..give me liberty or give me death.
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 ltaly it began, when an ambitious
rabble-rouser set his followers marching on Rome.
The country, like every other country
after the last war,
..was torn by political unrest,
hard times, unemployment.
Two courses were available
to the ltalian 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 faith and trust
in this one man.
They believed they represented them.
Actually he planned to betray them,
with the selfish interest of himself,
..and a group back of him.
Just as he had earlier betrayed
those who first supported him.
In Germany another even more
forceful demo go...
..set his marchers following
from the Munich beer halls.
He too had the sinister opportunity.. take advantage of post-war chaos.
But he also had certain distinctive
German characteristics to play on.
To start with, the Germans have an in-born national
love of regimentation and a harsh discipline.
He could give them that.
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.
This man cunningly played all these
ends against the middle.
And ruthlessly set out to murder
the new-born German republic.
Here not one man, but a gang,
disguised their little scheme...
..of the will of the Emperor. And to
the Japanese people, the Emperor is God.
Taking advantage of their worship
of the God-Emperor, was no great trick to take away
what little freedom they had ever known.
Yes in these lands, people surrendered their
liberties and threw away their human dignity
They gave up their right
as individual human beings.
They became a part of a mass,
a human herd.
Although these countries were far apart
and different in custom and language,
..the same poison made them much alike.
Each got a new uniform. In ltaly
the 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 ltaly, the old Roman symbol.
In Germany they called the new
order.. National Socialism,
..or Nazism.
In ltaly, they had a shorter word:
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...
..materialistic imperialism.
The Japs would get the prosperity
and the other would get the "co"-
They say trouble always
comes in three's.
Take a good close look
at this trio.
Remember these faces.
Remember them well. If you ever
meet them, don't hesitate.
Stop thinking and follow me cried Hitler
I will make you masters of the world.
And the people answered, HElL!!
Stop thinking and believe in me, bellowed Mussolini
and I will restore the glory that was ruined.
The people answered ll Duce! Il Duce!
Stop thinking and follow your God-Emperor cried the
Japanese War-Lords and Japan will rule the world.
And the people answered: Banzai! Banzai!
Each system was alike and that the constitutional
law-making 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.
Applauding on cue, the words
of the leaders.
Each system did away with free-speech,
and free-assembly.
Each system did away with free-press and
substituted a press controlled by the party
Through their ministry of propaganda,
each took complete control of theatre,
..the movies, the radio. Every cultural
activity in every channel of information,
..was controlled by the most
important members of the party.
Each did away with free courts,
and trail by jury.
And substituted courts and judges,
run by the party.
Each abolished labour unions, and
the rights of bargaining for wages.
And under the pretext of patriotism,
established the system of forced labour
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.
"Only the application of force used continuously
and ruthlessly can bring about the decision... favour of the side it supports."
"Mein Kampf" -Page 189 German Edition
"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.
"Whenever I hear anyone mention the word culture,
the first thing I do is reach for my gun."
Yes, they had the answers,
the black-jack and the gun.
In ltaly they did it differently.
While in Japan.
To their names, can be added
hundreds of thousands of others
..who stood in the way of the new order
Finally there is only one obstacle left,
I am the Light of the World, he that follow me shall
not walk in darkness, but have the light of hope.
The word of God and the word of purists
can not be reconciled.
"l am absolutely clear in my own mind, and I think l
can speak for the Fhrer as well.
That both the Catholic and Protestant churches
must banish from the life of our people."
Thus spoke Dr. Alfred Rosenberg and if you
had any doubt he spoke for his Fhrer's what happened.
"The Christian cross is to be removed from all
churches and cathedrals and to be replaced... the immortal symbol of Germany
the swastika."
Berlin, 1935 700,000 members of the Protestant
Youth organizations were forced to disband.
Thousands of other men of God,
Protestant, Catholic, Jewish,
..wee persecuted, arrested and
confined in concentration camps.
"Our Fhrer is the intermediary between
his people and the throne of God.
Everything the Fhrer utters, is
religion in the highest sense.
It is only on one or two exceptional points
that Christ and Hitler stand on comparison,
..for Hitler is far too big a man to
be compared with one so petty."
Everyday in all German classrooms,
"Adolf Hitler is our savoir our hero"
"He is the noblest being
in the whole wide world."
"For Hitler we live."
"For Hitler we die."
"Our Hitler is our Lord."
"Who rules a brave new world."
Yes take children from the faith of their fathers,
and teach them that the state is the only church.
And the head of the State,
is the voice of God.
"l want to see again, in the eyes of the youth,
the gleam of the beast of prey" --Hitler
That was the way of life, or better,
the way of death in that other world.
Now what of our 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, ltalian andAmerican 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 1 929, we signed
the Kellog-Briand Pact...
..which was suppose to abolish wars in
a means of settling international disputes.
This pact was signed by 47 nations,
including Germany and Japan.
"Mr. President, I have the honour of
handing you the London NavalTreaty."
Faithful to our treaty obligations,
..we scraped 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 Romania.
We let our hopes for peace become so strong,
that they grew into determination...
..not to fight unless directly attacked.
We let ourselves be influenced by
those who said we could find... through isolation.
The confusion in our way
of thinking is apparent.
In the slice of public opinion, as it
appeared in Athe News in 1939.
"Another war?. Not for me. This time
America should keep out, and I know I will."
"lf war breaks out in Europe, I think this country
should heed the advice of the First President,
..and avoid all foreign entanglements"
I haven't the slightest idea
of European affairs."
In the event of war in Europe, I think
we should stay out of it entirely
And all our efforts should be made
to keep out of the fight.!
Let Europe fight their own battles.
They mean nothing to us."
We should mind out own business.
-By all means, NO."
Yes, fight.... NO.... NO.. Yes"
If my country calls, YES."
We simply did not want to understand that our
individual and national problems were...
..and always will be dependant upon
the problems of the whole world.
And we had individual and national
problems to worry about. Plenty of them.
Just as Germany, ltaly and Japan had,
but we faced it 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.
It began to give old folks protection
against want and hunger
We organized the C.C.C. to provide our
young men with healthy and useful employment.
A Federal works program came into being and
changed the face of our nation with new roads,
..bridges, schools.
It built great new dams that brought
electricity of millions of our people.
These were some of our accomplishments,
but there were others, not so credible.
We turned our backs on the League of Nations.
We passed theTariff 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,
Wilke, Roosevelt or anybody else.
In Germany they had the choice of voting
for Hitler, Hitler, or Hitler.
Over here, John Q. still read
what he pleased.
And although he heard of books
being burned in other countries,
..he would have laughed, if anybody
told him his books would be burned.
And on Sunday, if he felt like it,
John Q. went to any church he pleased.
Most of all, he got a kick out
of seeing his kids grow up.
The average American was quite unconscious
of the fact that some people,
..had this in mind for the little John Q's
"To die for the Emperor is to live forever."
Japanese Army Slogan
"Three cheers for war, noble and beautiful
above all." --Mussolini
Yes, while their children were
being trained to kill,
..John Q. 's kids were giving their
pennies to help them have life.
And when we saw these men on the
news reels, quite often we laughed.
To us they looked like characters
in a musical comedy.
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,
they were 70 million Japanese,
45 million ltalians, and 80 million Germans,
all hopped up with the same idea.
Their leaders told them that
they were supermen.
Herren Folk" the Nazi called it, the Master Race.
Destined to rule all other peoples on earth.
Take a good look at these humourless men.
These were to be the rulers of the ruling race.
Bear us blindly and you will obtain your
rightful place in the world.
All other people will be your slaves.
That's what they promised them.
ThatAmericans, Chinese,
..Russians, SouthAmericans, all free peoples
would work for them and make them rich.
And how they ate it up!
We shall restore the glory
that was Rome.
Today we rule Germany.
Tomorrow the world.
The Pacific is ours!
It was inevitable that these countries
should gang up on us.
The little fellow is our pal,
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 is the ltaly that Mussolini
took over in 1922.
And almost his first act was to tell
the ltalians they were the rightful...
.. owners of Corsica, Nice, Savoien,
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 joining
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 of 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 theTanaka Memorial.
It was presented to the Emperor
on July 25, 1927.
In order to conquer the world,
we must first conquer China.
Here was their dream.
Manchuria for raw materials.
China for manpower. Then a triumphant
March through lndo China...
..Siam, Burma, lndia, the East lndia,
..and on throughAustralia and New Zealand.
In the north, all they claimed was
that part of Russia east of Lake Baikal.
That was to be the new order inAsia.
Then the Japs would move eastward
to crush the United States.
And really start the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Now take a look at the bite
the Nazis reserved for themselves.
Here's the Germany Hitler walked
into and here's what he wanted.
First Europe under his complete
political and economic control.
Leaving Mussolini a share of the loot,
if he behaved himself.
Then a drive to the east, through the rich
oil lands of lran and lraq and into lndia.
Another push south, throughAfrica.
Then from Dakar, jump off to meet
the Honorary Arians...
..who were to move in on SouthAmerica
through the Pacific.
At the same time, start across
the Scandinavian countries.
To hook up with his buck-toothed pals
coming over from Siberia, 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?.
"When war comes between Japan and the
United States, I shall not be content... occupy Guam, The Philippines,
Hawaii and San Francisco."
I look forward to debating the peace to the
United States in the White House in Washington."
Yamamoto wrote those words of January, 1941.
Yes the conquering Jap army down Pennsylvania
That was the final goal. You will see
what they did to the man and women...
..of Mankind, Hong Kong and Manila.
I imagine the field day they would have enjoyed if
they'd marched through the streets of Washington?.
But before striking, a preliminary step
was necessary.
..From Berlin...
..From Rome...
.. From Tokyo, the Champaign started.
Propaganda, to confuse, divide,
soften up their intended victims.
Put them on the defensive.
Put them on the defensive.
Scream your abuse!
Shout you're oppressed!
The World is wrong. You are right!
If you shriek it loud enough and
often enough, they'll believe you.
Above all, use their free speech and
their free press to destroy them.
Lebensraum" they demanded.
Living room!
Our lands are over-crowded and at
the same time, they gave prizes to mothers,
..who bore the most sons.
They brought together large groups of young
men and young girls for human breeding.
Read what one of their leaders wrote:
"Round up a thousand German girls. Isolate them in
a camp. Then let them be joined by a hundred...
..German men. If a hundred such camps were
set up, you would have 100,000 thoroughbred
children in one stroke."
--Dr. Williband Hentschel
Of course the children from this
assembly line, belonged to the state... be scientifically trained for conquest.
Another howl, was lack of raw materials.
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.
Actually between 1933, and 1939
Hitler's program of re-armament cost
more than 80 billion dollars.
The Nazis alone assembled
a striking force of...
..30 Panzer divisions,
70 motorized divisions,
1 40 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 the German, ltalian, 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 smoke screens.
When war came, the democracies proved
to be the "have-nots."
And our enemies the "haves."
And when war came, where did it come?.
Remember that date, September 18, 1941.
A date we should remember as well as
December 7, 1941.
For on that date, in 1 931...
..the war we are now fighting began.
The place was Manchuria, the northern
most Province of China,
..6000 miles from San Francisco.
Manchuria the first objective
in the Tanaka plan.
By September 18th, the Japanese,
who by treaty patrolled...
..the southern Manchuria railway, had secretly
and illegally increased their garrison.
On the Korean/Manchuria 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 passed by,
..a section of track was dynamited, causing
damage to one rail and two fish-plates.
Japan's honour had violated.
In half an hour, the Japanese railroad
garrison launched a co-ordinated attack,
on the barracks for the sleeping Chinese
army at Mukden.
The slaughter was appalling.
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...
..was seven years of women and song.
In Washington, Henry L. Simson,
then Secretary of State.
..was now Secretary of War,
..sent out a blistering denunciation
of the attack.
The League of Nations sent a committee
of five, headed by Lord Litton and...
..including our General Frank McCoy
to investigate.
In October of 1932,
..the Committee issued its report.
"We found that the occupation
of this large part of China,
..was not justified on the grounds
of self-defence,
..and that the new State which
had been set up, is Japanese projected...
..rather than a genuine case of
Manchurian self-determination."
Shortly after, The League condemned
Japan as an aggressor Nation.
It is a matter of common knowledge,
that Japan's policy... fundamentally inspired
by a genuine desire... guarantee peace in the Far East.
And to contribute to the maintenance
of peace throughout the world.
Japan, however finds it
impossible to accept...
..that it fought abducted
by the assembly."
In answer, the Japanese delegates, knowing
there were no guns behind this condemnation,
..smiled, took up their briefcases,
marched out ofThe 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 lowa, 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.
Yet the subsequent course of history
makes it clear that...
..that incident so many miles
away is the reason...
..that you and millions of others
are in uniform today.
The Japs had Manchuria, phase number one
of theTanaka plan was completed.
Phase number 2, the conquest of China.
In 1932, without warning the Japs
attacked the city of Shanghai.
Here they met such stubborn resistance,
that 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 into the north.
And in 1933, they added the
Province of Jerold to Manchuria.
Yes, the Japs launched the
second phase of theTanaka plan.
But they had yet to finish it.
A United Nations stands against them.
Under the inspired leadership of
General Chiang Kai-shek.
The Chinese people fought
and still fight on.
Meantime, what of Japan's partners?.
What helpless people were
they planning to bomb, 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 promised them.
So he pulled the old trick of launching a foreign war
to divert the attention from troubles at home.
So Mussolini beat his chest likeTarzan
and looked around for a worthy foe.
He found one. Ethiopia.
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 the nation which had
developed the theory of total air-war.
Of the blitz that would wipe out cities,
destroy civilians.
Man woman, and child.
In October of 1935, following
the Japanese example, incident was provoked at the little settlement
of Wal Wal near the border of Ethiopia...
..and ltalian Somalia land.
Italy's honour 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 Selaissie,
appeared beforeThe League of Nations.
"l must still fight on until
my tardy allies appear...
..and if they never come,
I say to you without bitterness,
..the West will perish."
Members of the League, half-heartedly
stopped trading with ltaly.
But refused the only thing
that would stop any aggressor
Ethiopia was left to herself.
Native leaders came to pledge their allegiance.
The people of Ethiopia, with their
spears and bare hands,
..faced the guns and tanks
of the invaders.
Fighting desperately and gallantly
to save their country from conquest.
They fought and they died. But in the end,
there could only be one result,
..might triumphed.
Italy conquered Ethiopia.
Many of our elected leaders
warned us of danger,
.."Without 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 when the time was
months 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.
No one would run the risk of war for some
mud huts and barren plains in Ethiopia,
..any more than we would run the risk
for some similar huts and plains in Manchuria.
Correctly interpreting our attitude, the aggressors
were all assure 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 common
man's life and death's...
..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.
170 years of freedom,
decrees our answer!
"Victory of the democracies can only be complete
with the utter defeat of the...
..war machines of Germany and Japan."
--G.C. Marshall Chief of Staff