domingo, 28 de fevereiro de 2010


And here, two nice series, the first is "Band of Brothers" (2001) and the second, "The Pacific" (March, 2010), both from HBO. The Pacific looks like a continuation to Band of Brothers.

sexta-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2010

quinta-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2010

Blood, toil, tears and sweat

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. Here is his first speech, on May 13.

On Friday evening last I received His Majesty's commission to form a new Administration. It as the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties, both those who supported the late Government and also the parties of the Opposition. I have completed the most important part of this task. A War Cabinet has been formed of five Members, representing, with the Opposition Liberals, the unity of the nation. The three party Leaders have agreed to serve, either in the War Cabinet or in high executive office. The three Fighting Services have been filled. It was necessary that this should be done in one single day, on account of the extreme urgency and rigour of events. A number of other positions, key positions, were filled yesterday, and I am submitting a further list to His Majesty to-night. I hope to complete the appointment of the principal Ministers during to-morrow. the appointment of the other Ministers usually takes a little longer, but I trust that, when Parliament meets again, this part of my task will be completed, and that the administration will be complete in all respects.

I considered it in the public interest to suggest that the House should be summoned to meet today. Mr. Speaker agreed, and took the necessary steps, in accordance with the powers conferred upon him by the Resolution of the House. At the end of the proceedings today, the Adjournment of the House will be proposed until Tuesday, 21st May, with, of course, provision for earlier meeting, if need be. The business to be considered during that week will be notified to Members at the earliest opportunity. I now invite the House, by the Motion which stands in my name, to record its approval of the steps taken and to declare its confidence in the new Government.

To form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but it must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations, such as have been indicated by my hon. Friend below the Gangway, have to be made here at home. In this crisis I hope I may be pardoned if I do not address the House at any length today. I hope that any of my friends and colleagues, or former colleagues, who are affected by the political reconstruction, will make allowance, all allowance, for any lack of ceremony with which it has been necessary to act. I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat."

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength." 

(speech quotation from

Frustation in Norway

Here we have Churchill reading the conclusion of the Chapter XXXVI - Frustation in Norway.

"Twilight War ended with Hitler's assault in Norway. It broke into the glare of the most fearful military explosion so far know to man. I have described the trance in which for eight months France and Britain had been held while all the world wondered. This phase proved most harmful to the Allies. From the moment when Stalin made terms with Hitler the Communists in France took their cue from Moscow and denounced the war as "an imperialist and capitalist crime against democracy". They did what they could to undermine morale in the Army and impede production in the workshops. The morale of France, both of her soldiers and her people, was now in May markedly lower than at the outbreak of war.

Nothing like this happened in Britain, where Soviet-directed Communism, though busy, was weak. Nevertheless we were still a party Government, under a Prime Minister from whom the Opposition was bitterly estranged, and without the ardent and positive help of the trade union movement. The sedate, sincere, but routine character of the Administration did not evoke that intense effort, either in the governing circles or in the munitions factories, which was vital. The stroke of catastrophe and the spur of peril were needed to call forth the dormant might of the British nation. The tocsin was about to sound."

Churchill, Winston S. The Second Wolrd War: The Gathering Storm, 1948. Pages 583-584.

domingo, 7 de fevereiro de 2010


Here we have Churchill reading the introduction of the Chapter XXXIV - Narvik (The Gathering Storm, Book II - The Twilight War).

"For many generations Norway, with its homely, rugged population engaged in trade, shipping, fishing, and agriculture, had stood outside the turmoil of world politics. Far off were the days when the Vikings had sallied forth to conquer or ravage a large part of the then know world. The Hundred Years War, the Thirty Years War, the wars of William III and Marlborough, the Napoleonic convulsion, and later conflicts, had left Norway, though separated from Denmark otherwise unmoved and unscathed. A large proportion of the people had hitherto thought of neutrality and neutrality alone. A tiny army and a population with no desires except to live peaceably in their own mountainous and semi-Arctic country now fell victims to the new German agression.

It had been the policy of Germany for many years to profess cordial sympathy and friendship with Norway. After the previous war some thousands of German children had found food and shelter with the Norwegians. These had now grown up in Germany, and many of them were ardent Nazis. There was also the Major Quisling, who with a handful of young men had aped and reproduced in Norway on an insignificant scale the Fascist movement. For some years past Nordic meeting had been arranged in Germany to which large numbers of Norwegians had been invited. German lecturers, actors, singers, and men of science had visited Norway in the promotion of a common culture. [All this had been woven into the texture of the Hitlerite military plan, and a widely-scattered internal pro-German conspiracy set on foot. In this every member of the German diplomatic or consular service, every German purchasing agency, played its part under directions from the German Legation in Oslo.] The deed of infamy and treachery now performed may take its place with the Sicilian Vespers and the massacre of St. Bartholomew. [The president of the Norwegian Parliament, Carl Hambro, has written:

In the case of Poland and later in those of Holland and Belgium notes had been exchanged, ultimata had been presented. In the case of Norway the Germans under the mask of friendship tried to extinguish the nation in one dark night, silently, murderously, without any declaration of war, without any warning given. What stupefied the Norwegians mote than the act of aggression itself was the national realization that a Great Power, for years professing its friendship, suddenly appeared a deadly enemy, and that men and woman with whom one had had intimate business or professional relations, who had been cordially welcomed in one's home, were spies and agents of destruction. More than by the violation of treaties and every international obligation, the people of Norway were dazed to find that for years their Germans friends had been elaborating the most detailed plans for the invasion and subsequent enslaving of their country.]

The King, the Government, the Army, and the people, as soon as they realized what was happening, flamed into furious anger. But it was too late. German infiltration and propaganda had hitherto clouded their vision, and now sapped their powers of resistance. Major Quisling presented himself  at the radio, now in German hands, as the pro-German ruler of the conquered land. Almost all Norwegian officials refused to serve him. The Army was mobilised, and at once began, under General Ruge, to fight the invaders pressing northwards from Oslo. Patriots who could find arms took the mountains and the forests. The King, the Ministry, and the Parliament withdrew first to Hamar, a hundred miles from Oslo. [They were hotly pursued by German armoured cars, and ferocious attempts were made to exterminate them by bombing and machine-gunning from the air. They continued however to issue proclamations to the whole country urging the most strenuous resistance. The rest of the population was overpowered and terrorised by blood examples into stupefied or sullen submission. The peninsula of Norway is nearly a thousand miles long.] It is sparsely inhabited, and roads and railroads are few, especially to the northward. The rapidity with  which Hitler effected the domination of the country was a remarkable feat of war and policy, and an enduring example of German thoroughness, wickedness, and brutallity.

The Norwegian Government, hitherto in their fear of Germany so frigid to us, now made vehement appeals for succour. It was from the beginning obviously impossible for us to rescue Southern Norway. Almost all our trained troops, and many only half trained, were in France. Our modest but growing Air Force was fully assigned to supporting the British Expeditionary Force, to Home Defence, and vigorous training. All our anti-aircraft guns were demanded ten times over for vulnerable points of the highest importance. Still, we felt bound to do our utmost to go to their aid, even at violent derangement of our own preparations and interests. Narvik, it seemed, could certainly be seized and defended with benefit to the whole Allied cause. Here the King of Norway might fly his flag unconquered. Trondheim might be fought for, at any rate as means of delaying the northward advance of the invader until Narvik could be regained and made the base of an Army. This, is seemed, could be maintained from the sea at a strength superior to anything which could be brought against it by land through to five hundred miles of mountain country. The Cabinet heartily approved all possible measures for the rescue and defence of Narwik and Trondheim. The troops which had been released from the Finnish project, and a nucleus kept in hand for Narwik, could soon be ready. They lacked aircraft, anti-aircraft guns, anti-tank guns, tanks, transport, and training. The whole of Northern Norway was covered with snow to depths which none of our soldiers had even seen, felt, or imagined. There were neither snow-shoes nor skis - still less skiers. We must do our best. Thus began this ramshackle campaign.

Churchill, Winston S. The Second Wolrd War: The Gathering Storm, 1948. Pages 545-547.

Rio de Janeiro

(...) About the same time reports reached the Norwegian capital that a German troopship, the Rio de Janeiro, had been sunk off the south coast by the Polish submarine Orzel (...)

Churchill, Winston S. The Second Wolrd War: The Gathering Storm. 1948. Page 531.

Can someone tell me why a German troopship was called Rio de Janeiro?

quarta-feira, 3 de fevereiro de 2010

Before the Storm

Here we have Churchill reading the introduction of the Chapter XXXII - Before the Storm (March 1940) (The Gathering Storm, Book II - The Twilight War).


segunda-feira, 1 de fevereiro de 2010

The tank gap

The awful gap, reflecting on our pre-war arrangements, was the absence of even one armoured division in the British Expeditionary Force. Britain, the cradle of the tank in all its variants, had between the wars so far neglected the development of this weapon, soon to dominate the battlefields, that eight months after the declaration of war our small but good Army had only with it, when the hour of trial arrived the 1st Army Tank Brigade, comprising 7 light tanks and 100 "Infantry" tanks. Only 23 of the latter carried the 2-prd. gun, the rest machine-guns only. There were also seven cavalry and Yeomanry regiments equipped with carriers and light tanks which were in process of being formed into two light armoured brigades. Apart from the lack of armour, the progress in the efficiency of the B.E.F. was marked.

Churchill, Winston S. The Second Wolrd War: The Gathering Storm. 1948. Page 503.

Molotov Cocktail

The brunt of the Russian attach fell at first upon the frontier defences of the Finns in the Karelian Isthmus. These comprised a fortified zone about twenty miles in depht running north and south through forest country, deep in snow. This was called the "Mannerheim Line", after the Finnish Commander-in-Chief and savior of Finland from Bolshevik subjugation in 1917. The indignation excited in Britain, France, and even more vehemently in the United States, at the unprovoked attack by the enormous Soviet Power upon a small, spirited and highly-civilised nation was soon followed by astonishment and relief. The early weeks of fighting brought no success to the Soviet forces, which in the first instance were drawn almost entirely from the Leningrad garrison. The Finnish Army, whose total fighting strength was about only 200,000 men, gave a good account of themselves. The Russian tanks were encountered with audacity and a new type of hand-grenade, soon nicknamed "the Molotov Cocktail".

Churchill, Winston S. The Second Wolrd War: The Gathering Storm. 1948. Page 485.

More about the Molotov Cocktail here.

The sinking of Graf Spee

"Admiral Graf Spee scuttled", Times, December 18, 1939

And here is Mr. Churchill speech, of the same date.


Churchill in nazi propaganda

Here is a nice site: