The Greatest Speech In History Was Delivered By A Man Famed For His Silence

Source: Vanity Fair

I first heard this speech several years ago, mixed in as part of a motivational compilation on YouTube. It immediately resonated with me and struck me as being extremely progressive, accurate, and relevant — even today. It’s a timeless speech that came from the most unlikely of sources, at a time when people needed to hear the words the most.

In 1940, Charlie Chaplin starred in a movie called The Great Dictator, and it was considered his first real ‘sound film’. Up until the release of this movie, Chaplin was known for his silent creations, and it was unlikely you’d have heard his voice before this production was revealed.

The Great Dictator was a political satire of sorts, written in condemnation of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, among other things. In many ways, the movie was a comedic one, and Chaplin himself insisted that he would never have made it if he’d known the true brutality and horror of the actions of the Nazi Party.

However, despite the film being classified as comedy-drama, it contains one of the most passionate, articulate, and powerful speeches in the history of film. As Chaplin delivers the speech while playing the role of Adenoid Hynkel, it seems as though he’s reaching out to the viewers, and not the characters on-screen. He’s speaking with unimaginable fervour, desperately pleading with the viewer to hear his words.

And here’s the speech:

It’s better if you read the words while listening to Chaplin deliver them:

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible — Jew, Gentile — black man — white.

We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness — not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there’s room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone.

The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls — has barricaded the world with hate — has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed.

We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.

Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost.The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man — cries for universal brotherhood — for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world — millions of despairing men, women, and little children — victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say: ‘Do not despair.’ The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed — the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes — men who despise you and enslave you — who regiment your lives — tell you what to do — what to think and what to feel! Who drill you — diet you — treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder.

Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men — machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate — the unloved and the unnatural!

Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St Luke, it is written the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power — the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful — to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then in the name of democracy — let us use that power — let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world — a decent world that will give men a chance to work — that will give youth a future and old age a security.

By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world — to do away with national barriers — to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance.

Let us fight for a world of reason — a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us unite!

Today, these words are still accurate and extremely relevant.

I hope this speech has inspired you in some way, particularly if it’s the first time you’ve heard it.

Thank you for reading.

About the Author

Grant Taylor-Hill is a freelance writer, podcaster, and motivator, with a background in support and team management. He’s a writer by trade and a gamer by passion, and he absolutely loves inspiring others. In his spare time, he produces three podcasts and is constantly expanding his network. Connect with him on social media; just search Grant Taylor-Hill.

Writer, Podcaster, Motivator, and Freelancer who wants to inspire others. Guinness World Record Holder, and Gamer.