The Agony of Neutrality
If we are conquered, all will be enslaved and the United States will be left single-handed to guard the rights of man.
-- First Lord of the Admiralty Winston S. Churchill, November 12, 1939
While German dive-bombers screamed over Warsaw and German tanks crunched through the stubble of the freshly harvested grain fields in Polish Silesia, the world briefly and vainly held its breath, hoping against all reason that the war that had come at last might somehow not really have come at all. But on September 3, after Hitler had rejected British and French ultimata to withdraw from Poland, futile hope expired. Seated in front of a microphone at Number 10 Downing Street, Chamberlain announced to his countrymen on September 3 that "this country is at war with Germany." In Paris, Prime Minister Edouard Daladier followed suit a few hours later.1
In Washington, Roosevelt's first public pronouncement on September 1 was a plea to all the belligerents to refrain from "bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities" -- an appeal that bespoke the terror of air power then obsessing every mind, and a declaration that eventually made for ironic reading in the light of the war's nuclear climax at Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly six years later. On the evening of September 3, Roosevelt also took to the radio to deliver another of his now familiar Fireside Chats. "Until four-thirty o'clock this morning I had hoped against hope that some miracle would prevent a devastating war in Europe and bring to an end the invasion of Poland____________________