Early on the morning of 22 June 1941, German military forces invaded the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics, as the Russian empire was known under its Communist regime. That evening Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke to the House of Commons, which had been forced out of its own traditional home the month before by a German bomb that destroyed the house chamber. Here follow extracts.
At four o’clock this morning Hitler attacked and invaded Russia. All his usual formalities of perfidy were observed with scrupulous technique. A non-agression treaty had been solemnly signed and was in force between the two countries. No complaint had been made by Germany of its non-fullfilment. Under its cloak of false confidence, the German armies drew up an immense strength along a line which stretches from the White Sea to the Black Sea; and their air fleets and armoured divisions slowly and methodically took their stations.
Then, suddenly without declaration of war, without even an ultimatum, German bombs rained down from the air upon the Russian cities, the German troops violated the frontiers; and an hour later the German Ambassador, who till the night before was lavishing his assurances of friendship, almost of alliance, upon the Russians, called upon the Russian Foreign Minister to tell him that a state of war existed between Germany and Russia.
All this was no surprise to me. In fact I gave clear and present warnings to Stalin of what was coming. I gave him warning as I have given warning to others before. I can only hope that this warning did not fall unheeded. All we know at present is that the Russian people are defending their native soil and that their leaders have called upon them to resist to the utmost.
The Nazi regime is indistinguishable from the worst features of Communism. It is devoid of all theme and principle except appetite and racial domination. It excels all forms of human wickedness in the efficiency of its cruelty and ferocious aggression. No one has been a more consistent opponent of Communism than I have for the last twenty-five years. I will unsay no word that I have spoken about it. But all this fades away before the spectacle that is now unfolding.
The Russian danger is therefore our danger, and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for his hearth and home is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe. Let us learn the lesson taught by such cruel experience. Let us redouble our exertions, and strike with united strength while life and power remain.