Document A

Churchill warns of German rearmament

Extracts from text of Churchill’s speech in the House of Commons, 19 March 1935.

“Enormous sums of money are being spent on German aviation and upon other armaments. I wish we could get at the figures which are being spent upon armaments. I believe that they would stagger us with the terrible tale they would tell of the immense panoply which that nation of nearly 70,000,000 of people is assuming, or has already assumed. But there are certain things which strike one. For instance, the population of Dessau increased during last year by 13,000. Dessau is a centre of the great Junkers aeroplane works, but it is only one of four or five main factories of Germany. There are at least twenty others of a secondary but important character; and 13,000 people are known to have entered the town of Dessau – I do not say that they are all workers – in the course of last year. One can see what the scale of production must be. Further, owing to the fact that the Germans had to prepare their air force in secret and unofficially, there has grown up a somewhat different method of producing aircraft from that which obtains in this country and in France. Much smaller elements are actually made outside the main factories than over here. Nuts and bolts and small parts are spread over an enormous producing area of small firms, and then they flow into the great central factories. The work which is done there consists in a rapid assembly, like a jig-saw puzzle or Meccano game, with the result that aeroplanes are turned out with a speed incomparably greater than in our factories, where a great deal of the earlier stages of the work is done on the spot.”

Copyright Curtis Brown. Churchill’s original speaking notes can be consulted at the Churchill Archives Centre. Reference: Churchill Papers, CHAR 9/112