|The early stages of WWII brought on many
concerns for Great Britain and France. Germany invaded Poland. France
and Britain had made a pact with Poland to protect her from invasion
even if this meant war. The United States had passed the Neutrality Act
after WWI preventing them from interfering with European countries. The
invasion of Poland also began a secret friendship.
On the 11th of September 1939
Ambassador Joseph Kennedy had just interviewed the King, Queen and
British lord privy Samuel Hoare. The British opinion would no longer
allow Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to do as he wanted with the
British government. Chamberlain believed Germany would stop after the
Naziís "cleaned up" Poland. Sir Samuel made the statement;
"to continue the war or even simply maintain the government on a
war footing means complete economic, financial and social collapse and
nothing will be saves after the war is over." Kennedy took this
statement very seriously and sent a cable to President Roosevelt.
Roosevelt sent two letters that day. One
letter was sent to Prime Minister Chamberlain and the other to Winston
Churchill. The letter to Churchill reads as follows:
My dear Churchill,
It is because you and I occupied similar
positions in the World War that I want you to know how glad I am that
you are back again at the Admiralty. Your problems are, I realize,
complicated by new factors but the essential is not very different. What
I want you and the Prime Minister to know is that I shall at all times
welcome it if you will keep me in touch personally with anything you
want me to know about. You can always send sealed letters through your
pouch or my pouch.
Roosevelt did an unorthodox move by
writing a subordinate a personal letter. Roosevelt trusted Churchill
because of the similarities the two men shared. Roosevelt was once the
Secretary of Navy. FDR was 31 when he first took office, as was
Churchill. Both men were also liberals.
The correspondence between Churchill and
Roosevelt continued until a member of the war cabinet exposed the secret
friendship. The Prime Minister and the US Navy Admiral were given
printed copies of the correspondence between Winston and FDR. The US
Admiral was a strict isolationist and refused the 33 appointed carriers
that Roosevelt requested for Great Britain. The Admiral used the
Neutrality Act as bases not to send the ships in June of 1940 as
Roosevelt had planned. This exposure ended the friendly correspondence
until Churchill was appointed Prime Minister.
This friendship continued to grow to a
great partnership. The two brave men used their liberal attitudes to
help the Allies build self-esteem that caused the horrible cancer of
dictatorship to come to an end.