To the people of Oslo
- Winston Churchill (1874–1965)
- Rådhusbalkongen, Oslo
- 13. mai 1948
Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness, Mister Deputy Lord Mayor, Citizens of Oslo here assembled,
It is a great joy to me to receive your most kindly welcome, and indeed I feel, or should feel, overwhelmed by all the tributes you have paid to me, but for the fact that I know that I receive your welcome and your tributes, not because of my own self, but for the fact that I know I receive your welcome and your tributes, not because of my own self, but because I have faithfully tried to serve great causes, faithfully tried to uphold to the best of my ability, and with the support of my country and nation, those causes of freedom, of human dignity and honour, upon which the whole purpose of our life here on earth depends.
I am deeply indebted to His Majesty for his gracious hospitality and all the honour he has shown me. In our country, in our island home in England, we have never been invaded for a thousand years not since the gentleman whose statue has been erected in this hall came over a thousand years ago - well, we won't quarrel about it. In our country, in our island, we are a crowned democracy. The monarch is the servant of the people. We are a country, and you are a country, were the people own the government, and the government not the people. There is a great division in human minds and in modern controversies upon this point, but I am certain that the people of this hardy North will ever uphold the principles of human freedom, the right to free thought, to free speech, to the representation of the people, to the faithful accomplishment of the people's will as it may be manifested, to the proper guidance that is given by those who have experience or gifts, and to the working out of progress into the future, with all respect for the great traditions and glories that have been gathered together by the toils and by the sufferings of the past.
Citizens of Oslo, you had a hard experience in the war. You were fallen upon in a shameful manner, in a treacherous manner. You did your utmost all through, and when you could do no more in Norway than maintain a sullen and inflexible defiance of your conquerors, still your ships went across the seas and carried the necessary supplies in the teeth of the U-boats, which was one of the great contributory factors in final ultimate victory.
I am glad to be here this afternoon to thank you all for the part you played, but also to urge you never to forget that life is one continuous effort. The careful choosing of the great purposes which men and women need to fulfil in their lives, and for which they are ready to sacrifice their lives, is the foundation of all decent society; it is the foundation of the happy lives which may be enjoyed - which God Almighty meant to be enjoyed - by all his creatures, wherever they may live, under whatever sky or climate they may dwell. That is the message which wish to bring you, which you already have in your hearts, which I bring you from my own country. But here I feel myself and I find myself in harmony and in company with a great volume of thoughts and inspiration. Why should the poor, struggling, toiling masses of the world, why should they always be harassed and wanted by one kind of oppression after another? Why should they be herded in masses and hurled against another lot of people just as good and well-meaning as they are themselves, if they could only talk it over? No, let us have clear principles. The principles of freedom, the principles of democratic government, the principles of the will of the people, fairly and freely expressed, shall prevail and be corrected as may be by the march of events.
I am proud indeed to come here, my Lord Mayor, - for such you are in the absence of your chief - I am proud to be invited to come here and address this immense audience of thousands and thousands of human beings. I can assure you that the kindness with which you treat me does not make me vain or conceited, because I know that it is not because of my personality, such as it may be, it is because I have become associated, by the grace of God, with some of the causes which are most precious to mankind, and which will ever find their faithful servants and champions in the people of Norway.