Prelude to War

Synopsis: The official World War II US Government film statement defining the various enemies of the Allies and why they must be fought.
Genre: Documentary, War
  Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins.
52 min

Causes and events leading up

to our entry in the war,

Well what are the causes?.

Why are we Americans on the march?.

Is it because of...

..Pearl Harbour?.

Is that why we are fighting?.

Is it because of Britain?.











Just what was it that made us to

change our way of living overnight?.

What turned our resources, our machines,

our whole nation into one vast arsine?.

Producing more and more weapons of war,

instead of the old materials of peace.

What put us into uniform, ready to

engage the enemy on every continent?.

And every ocean?.

This is a fight between a free world and a

slave world" Vice President Henry A. Wallace

What of these two worlds,

or which Mr. Wallace spoke?.

The free and the slave?.

Let's take the free world first,

our world.

How did it become free?.

Only through a long and unceasing

struggle inspired by men of vision.


Thou shall not covet that

which is they neighbours.


"Mankind is one community."


"What you do not want done to

yourself, so not do to others."


The truth shall make you free."

All believe in the sight of God,

all men were created equal.

And from that there developed a

spirit among men and nations,

that is best expressed in our

own declaration of freedom.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident,

that all men are created equal."

It is the corner-stone on which

our nation was built.

And the ideal of all the great liberators.




La Fayette




Lighthouses!. Lighting up a dark

and foggy world.

"Let government of the people,

by the people for the people,

..shall not perish from the earth."

Fighting! Living! Dying! For what?.

For freedom! That for which man

has fought, since time began.

To be free.

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, to be purchased at the price

of chains and slavery?.

Forbid itAlmighty God.

I know not what other course

one may take, but as for me,

..give me liberty or give me death.

But what of this other world?.

Here men insisted that progress

lay in killing freedom.

Here they were putting out

the lighthouses, one by one.

Here the march of history

was reversing itself.

In ltaly it began, when an ambitious

rabble-rouser set his followers marching on Rome.

The country, like every other country

after the last war,

..was torn by political unrest,

hard times, unemployment.

Two courses were available

to the ltalian people.

They could solve their problems

in a free democratic way,

..or they could let someone else

do the solving for them.

They made the tragic mistake of

choosing the second course.

They put their faith and trust

in this one man.

They believed they represented them.

Actually he planned to betray them,

with the selfish interest of himself,

..and a group back of him.

Just as he had earlier betrayed

those who first supported him.

In Germany another even more

forceful demo go...

..set his marchers following

from the Munich beer halls.

He too had the sinister opportunity.. take advantage of post-war chaos.

But he also had certain distinctive

German characteristics to play on.

To start with, the Germans have an in-born national

love of regimentation and a harsh discipline.

He could give them that.

The German army, and through them

the people, had never acknowledged...

..German defeat in the last war.

And were anxious for revenge.

That too, he promised them.

The wealthy and powerful industrialists were

fearful of losing any of their wealth and power

And were ready to back anyone

who would retain it for them.

He promised to take care of them too.

This man cunningly played all these

ends against the middle.

And ruthlessly set out to murder

the new-born German republic.

Here not one man, but a gang,

disguised their little scheme...

..of the will of the Emperor. And to

the Japanese people, the Emperor is God.

Taking advantage of their worship

of the God-Emperor, was no great trick to take away

what little freedom they had ever known.

Yes in these lands, people surrendered their

liberties and threw away their human dignity

They gave up their right

as individual human beings.

They became a part of a mass,

a human herd.

Although these countries were far apart

and different in custom and language,

..the same poison made them much alike.

Each got a new uniform. In ltaly

the bosses wore black shirts.

In Germany the shirts were brown.

In Japan they hid behind

the uniform of the army.

But really they belonged to

a sinister-secret society.

Their symbol was a black dragon.

The other fellows had to have a symbol too.

Germany a Swastika.

In ltaly, the old Roman symbol.

In Germany they called the new

order.. National Socialism,

..or Nazism.

In ltaly, they had a shorter word:


In Japan they had lots of names for it.

The New Era of Enlightenment,

The New Order in Asia.

The Co-Prosperity Sphere.

But no matter how you slice it,

it was just plain old-fashioned...

..materialistic imperialism.

The Japs would get the prosperity

and the other would get the "co"-

They say trouble always

comes in three's.

Take a good close look

at this trio.

Remember these faces.

Remember them well. If you ever

meet them, don't hesitate.

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Anthony Veiller

Anthony Veiller (23 June 1903 – 27 June 1965) was an American screenwriter and film producer. The son of the screenwriter Bayard Veiller and the English actress Margaret Wycherly, Anthony Veiller wrote for 41 films between 1934 and 1964. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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