Broadcast Message by Mr R.G. Menzies, Prime Minister

2 September 1939, shortly after 3 a.m.

Fellow Australians, this is proving a most disturbing and anxious night. You have read in the extraordinary editions of the newspapers, and heard on the wireless, news of an attack by Germany on Poland. At present, I have no official confirmation of these matters, though the frequency and character of the reports would appear to leave little doubt that hostilities have begun.

I do know that the British Cabinet has met, and is in urgent consultation with the French Government, and that we are on the very brink of war.

The whole affair is very difficult to explain on any honest basis.

Only a few hours ago we heard for the first time of the terms of settlement suggested by Germany, which, whatever we may think of them in detail, were much more moderate than many people expected.

But we are not now to be misled by that because, if it is true that Germany attacked Poland, and invaded her territory within a few hours of the promulgation of her terms, then it is clear that the announcement of those terms was not a real offer, but was mere propaganda, since Germany attacked Poland before Poland had had time even to discuss the proposals in her Cabinet.

That [sic] thought that I want to leave in your minds to-night is that there is one thing that is crystal clear, and that is that under all the circumstances, and having regard to the way in which negotiations were being conducted, war could not [sic] come about only if Germany wanted it.

The problem of the Corridor and of Danzig plainly was susceptible of peaceful settlement. Nobody could doubt that, with goodwill and a real desire for peace on the German side, such a settlement could have been achieved.

To dismiss the possibilities of settlement and to accompany acts of aggressive war-fare with statements about ‘honour’ and ‘dignity’ (as if dignity weighed for anything where millions of human lives are at stake) is a crime against humanity.

If this crime has really been committed-as I fear it has-then the people of our race will go to war with a clear conscience, with confidence in the righteousness of their cause and with a feeling of absolute assurance that justice, reason, and honest dealing cannot be overthrown, and that we cannot be defeated in their defence.