Many household names emerged from World War 2, including world presidents, generals, significant political figures, and specific troops. In the years that followed, quotes continued to play a significant role in the battle, since they provide insight into the personalities involved. A lot can be learned from these quotes and help paint a more vivid image of the years that covered man’s biggest contemporary war.
There is little question that stirring speeches and clever lines can occasionally be the perfect instrument for the task, even though action may ultimately determine the fate of a battle. Words have the power to move a whole nation or just one individual. Here is a collection of those quotations we feel best reflect the essence of the Second World War.
Here are some of the personalities of World War II with their famous words:
President Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Democrat, and the 32nd US President, Roosevelt steered the country through the Second World War. He led the country to triumph against Nazi Germany by forming a powerful wartime alliance with Britain and the Soviet Union.
The United States’ neutrality in World War II ended when the Japanese, who were aligned with Nazi Germany, launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The day after the assault, President Roosevelt roused the country in a national radio speech by describing December 7, 1941, as a “date which will live in infamy.” Here are some of his famous statements:
- “I say that the delivery of needed supplies to Britain is imperative. I say that this can be done; it must be done; and it will be done…” – Radio Address Announcing an Unlimited National Emergency
- “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”- Inaugural Address
- “Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” – Address to Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor
- “Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.” – Address to Congress after the attack on Pearl Harbor
- “Democracy alone, of all forms of government, enlists the full force of men’s enlightened will…It is the most humane, the most advanced, and, in the end, the most unconquerable of all forms of human society. The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase of human history…We…would rather die on our feet than live on our knees.” – in his Third Inauguration Speech, January 20, 1941
- “The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self-sacrifice than have been displayed by the Russian people…under the leadership of Marshal Joseph Stalin. With a nation that in saving itself is thereby helping to save all the world from the Nazi menace, this country of ours should always be glad to be a good neighbor and a sincere friend to the world of the future.” – during a Fireside Chat – July 28, 1943
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill: A statesman, orator, and novelist from Britain who served as prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. During World War II, he inspired the British people and guided them to victory. The entirety of Winston Churchill’s prior career had served as leadership training for times of war.
An intense patriot, a romantic believer in his nation’s greatness and its historical place in Europe, the empire, and the world, a devotee of action who thrived on challenge and crisis, a student, veteran of war, and master of the arts of politics despite or perhaps because of long political exile, he seemed to have been nurturing all of his faculties so that when the time came, he would be fully prepared.
- “We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!” – House of Commons, 4 June 1940, following the evacuation of British and French armies from Dunkirk as the German tide swept through France.
- “… But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their Finest Hour.’ – House of Commons, 18 June 1940, following the collapse of France. Many thought Britain would follow.
- “The Germans have received back again that measure of fire and steel which they have so often meted out to others. Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Lord Mayor’s Luncheon, Mansion House following the victory at El Alamein North Africa, London, 10 November 1942.
American General Dwight D. Eisenhower: The American general who went on to become 34th president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a renowned World War II military commander who had no prior political experience. He did, however, prove to be a well-liked president over his two terms, leading the country through a period of expansion and prosperity.
Eisenhower advanced swiftly through the ranks of the army when the United States entered World War II. In 1942, he oversaw the Allied invasion of North Africa, and in 1943, he was named AEF’s supreme commander. He oversaw the Allied invasion of western Europe on June 6, 1944, often known as D-Day, in Normandy, France. In the end, Nazi Germany was defeated thanks to this much anticipated and successful onslaught. Eisenhower had attained the highest military rank in the United States before the end of the war with his five-star general rank.
Eisenhower became a national hero as a result of his leadership during World War II. He was selected as the Republican nominee for president in 1952, and Richard Nixon, who was then a senator from California, served as his running mate. Here are some of his famous lines:
- “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world. Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.” – Addressed to Allied soldiers on June 6th, 1944
- “This is a long tough road we have to travel. The men that can do things are going to be sought out just as surely as the sun rises in the morning. Fake reputations, habits of glib and clever speech, and glittering surface performance are going to be discovered.” – Letter to Vernon Prichard (27 August 1942), published in The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower (1970) edited by Alfred Dupont Chandler, p. 505
- “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
American General Douglas MacArthur: For the most of his life, General Douglas MacArthur was an Army officer by profession. One of the very few people to have a five-star rank, MacArthur is most known for his service in World Wars I, II, and Korea. He was a recipient of the Medal of Honor as well as 17 other awards, and he stood out as a military leader who was gifted, courageous, and competent. Despite being a divisive figure, MacArthur’s decades of service provide as evidence of his commitment, enthusiasm, and ambition.
Japanese forces unexpectedly attacked American military installations in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The Philippines was then the target of air strikes by Japanese troops. Having destroyed half of MacArthur’s air force on the ground, the Japanese invaded and occupied the Philippines. For defending the Philippines, MacArthur received the Medal of Honor, and just before leaving, he vowed to return.
- “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
- “I’ll come back as soon as I can with as much as I can. In the meantime, you’ve got to hold!” – As spoken to General Wainright in March of 1942
- “It was close; but that’s the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die — and the difference is just an eyelash.”- To Gen. Richard Sutherland after their flight over Japanese held territory to reach Australia, March 17, 1942
- “We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.”- Radio broadcast after the surrender of the Japan on the battleship USS Missouri officially ending World War II, September 2, 1945
General George Smith Patton Jr.: Gen. Patton served as the commander of the Third United States Army in France and Germany during the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944. He also led the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean Theater of World War II. During Operation Torch in 1942, Patton led American troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca and quickly established himself as an effective commander by restoring the II Corps’s morale. However, Patton’s colorful persona, hard-driving character, and military success were occasionally overshadowed by his controversial public statements. His commitment to “leading from the front” and his talent for motivating troops with attention-grabbing, profane speeches.
Patton’s eccentric demeanor, competitive nature, and leadership prowess were occasionally eclipsed by his contentious public pronouncements. His belief in “leading from the front” and his capacity to motivate soldiers with attention-grabbing, profane statements,
- “A Good Plan, Violently Executed Now, Is Better Than a Perfect Plan Next Week.” -Known for his brilliance on the battlefield, Patton often had to make decisions based on limited information and time. But he knew to avoid “paralysis by analysis,” make a decision and execute it the best he could. Otherwise, the enemy might maneuver faster and beat him.
- “Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say.” – Patton didn’t mince words. Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, he began giving his now-famous “blood and guts” speeches at Fort Benning, Georgia. They were often profane, but direct.
- “Do Everything You Ask of Those You Command.” – Patton led his soldiers by example. While he’s best known for commanding troops during World War II and perfecting the art of tank warfare, his troops knew he was more than willing to personally get into the fight.
- “I Am a Soldier, I Fight Where I Am Told and I Win Where I Fight.” – Having served the U.S. Army for 36 years, Patton was a career soldier who served as an example for his troops. He believed in his country, his mission and winning the battles he was tasked with. He also knew very well how