50 quotes that marked the history of the 20th century

All these quotations can be integrated into your essays, but also as a hook, in history or General Knowledge. They are mostly related to the curriculum of the Terminale and the history curriculum at Sciences Po.

Inequality, Globalization, Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher, etc.)

Historical quotes from the first half of the twentieth

century “Never in the last forty years has Europe been in a more threatening and tragic situation than the one in which we find ourselves at the moment when I have the responsibility of addressing you.”

Quote source: Jean Jaurès, Speech delivered in Lyon-Vaise, July 25, 1914

“Our immediate task is not to ‘introduce’ socialism, but only to pass immediately to the control of social production and the distribution of products by the Soviets of workers’ deputies.”

Quote source: Lenin, Text published in Pravda No. 26, April 7, 1917

“Gentlemen may we be allowed, at this hour, to experience this victory, in advance, in the communion of our hearts as we draw from it more and more of an inexhaustible unselfishness which must be completed in the sublime rise of the French soul to the highest of its highest hopes.”

Quote source: Georges Clémenceau, Clémenceau’s Ministerial Statement to the Chamber of Deputies, November 20, 1917

“What we want is for the world to become a safe place where all can live, a place that is possible especially for any peace-loving nation like ours.”

Quote source: President Wilson, 14 points from President Wilson, January 8, 1918

“I declare here, before this assembly and before the entire Italian people, that I alone assume the political, moral and historical responsibility for what has happened

Quote source: Benito Mussolini, Speech before the Chamber, January 3, 1925

“In exchange for the trust placed in me, I will return the courage and dedication appropriate to the present hour.”

Quote source: Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

“Long live the people’s Republic! The fascists shall not pass! They shall not pass!” (“No pasaran”)

Quote source: Dolores Ibârruri La Pasionaria, call made from the Ministry of the Interior, Madrid, July 19, 1936

‘My fidelity will not fail either: fidelity to the commitments made to my Party, fidelity to the commitments made to the electoral majority

Quote source: Léon Blum, a speech given at the commemorative celebration of the Republic, September 6, 1936

“Comrades! It is in the interest of the USSR, of the Fatherland of the Workers, that war breaks out between the Reich and the Franco-British capitalist bloc.”

Quote source: Joseph Stalin, Speech to the Politburo Plenum of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party Bolshevik, August 19, 1939

“At the call of Mr. President of the Republic, I assume from today the leadership of the government of France.”

Quote source: Philippe Pétain, radio address of June 17, 1940

“Honor, common sense, the higher interest of the fatherland command all free Frenchmen to continue the fight wherever they are and however they can.”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, Radio message of June 22, 1940

“A collaboration has been envisaged between our two countries. I have accepted the principle.”

Quote source: Philippe Pétain, Radio address of October 30, 1940

“War having been imposed upon us, our country has entered into a fight to the death with its worst and most perfidious enemy, German fascism. Our troops are fighting heroically against an enemy abundantly provided with tanks and air power.”

Quote source: Joseph Stalin, radio address of July 3, 1941

“Worry is spreading in the minds, doubt is seizing souls. The authority of my government is being questioned.

Quote source: Philippe Pétain, Speech delivered in Vichy, August 12, 1941

‘I am therefore also convinced that there is really no agreement to be hoped for with these people. They are delirious madmen.

Quote source: Adolf Hitler, Speech delivered in Berlin for the opening of the Winter War Relief, October 3, 1941

“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will remain marked with eternal shame – the United States of America was the object of a sudden and premeditated attack by the air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Quote source: Franklin Roosevelt, Address to the United States Congress, December 8, 1941

“Paris! Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated!”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, a speech given on the steps of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, August 25, 1944

“Sixteen hours ago, an American plane dropped a bomb on Hiroshima

Quote source: Harry Truman, Radio message, August 7, 1945

‘It is in accordance with the decrees of time and fate that we have resolved to usher in an era of great peace’ (Japan’s surrender speech)

Quote source: Emperor Hirohito, Radio address of August 15, 1945

“From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Quote source: Winston Churchill, Speech at Fulton, March 5, 1946

“That is why, once the salvation of the state was secured, in victory won and national unity maintained, the above all urgent and essential task was the establishment of the new French institutions.”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, Speech delivered in Bayeux, June 16, 1946

“Such a compromise does not seem to us to be a framework worthy of the Republic.”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, Speech delivered in Épinal, September 29, 1946

” (we) proclaim the foundation of the Jewish State in the country of Israel, which will bear the name of the State of Israel’

Quote source: David Ben Gurion, Proclamation of the State of Israel, May 14, 1948

Historical quotations from the second half of the 20thcentury

” Europe will not be built all at once, nor in an overall construction: it will be built through concrete achievements that first create a de facto solidarity.

Quote source: Robert Schuman, Declaration of May 9, 1950

“A federated Europe is indispensable to the security and peace of the free world.”

Quote source: Jean Monnet, Speech to the National Press Club, Washington, April 30, 1952

“My friends, help!”

Quote source: Abbé Pierre, Radio Appeal, February 1, 1954

“Comrades, we must abolish the cult of the individual in a decisive way once and for all.”

Quote source: Nikita Khrushchev, Secret Report of Nikita Khrushchev presented to the XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, February 25, 1956

“Our state is a state of people’s democratic dictatorship.”

Quote source: Mao Zedong, Speech to the 11th Session of the Supreme State Conference, February 27, 1957

“I have understood you! I know what has happened here. I see what you have wanted to do. I see that the road you have opened in Algeria is the road of renovation and brotherhood.”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, Speech delivered in Algiers, June 4, 1958

“Do not ask your country what it can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country

Quote source: John Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961

“In the name of France, I order that all means, I say all means, be employed to block the way of these men everywhere, while waiting to reduce them.”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, televised and radio broadcast of April 23, 1961

“I appeal to Mr. Khrushchev to put an end to this clandestine, irresponsible and provocative threat to world peace and to the maintenance of stable relations between our two nations.”

Quote source: John Kennedy, Television and Radio Address October 22, 1962

“All free men, wherever they live, are citizens of this city of West Berlin, and for that reason, in my capacity as a free man, I say’Ich bin ein Berliner’. ”

Quote source: John Kennedy, Speech in West Berlin, June 26, 1963

“I have a dream that one day our country will stand up and live fully the true reality of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal” (“I have a dream”)

Quote source: Martin Luther King, Speech in Washington, D.C., August 28, 1963

“May The commemorations of the two wars be completed today by the resurrection of the shadow people whom this man animated, whom he symbolizes, and whom he brings here as a humble solemn guard around his dead body.” (transfer of the ashes of Jean Moulin to the Pantheon)

André Malraux, Speech delivered in front of the Pantheon, Paris, December 19, 1964

“Long live Montreal! Long live Quebec! Long live free Quebec! Long live French Canada, and long live France!”

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, Speech delivered in Montreal, July 24, 1967

“In the present circumstances, I will not withdraw. I have a mandate from the people and I will fulfill it.

Quote source: Charles de Gaulle, Radio address, May 30, 1968

‘We will, first of all, gather – it is done – , unify – I believe it – beyond our persons and our groups and our tendencies all the currents of Socialism

Quote source: François Mitterrand, Speech delivered at the Épinay Congress on June 13, 1971

‘It is also with the greatest conviction that I will defend a project that has been carefully thought out and deliberated by the entire government

Quote source: Simone Veil, Speech to the National Assembly, November 26, 1974

“There is Arab land that Israel has occupied and continues to occupy by force of arms. We insist on a complete withdrawal from this Arab territory, including Arab Jerusalem.”

Quote source: Anwar Sadat, Speech to the Knesset in Jerusalem, November 20, 1977

“That is why we say NO. No to the politics of supranationality. No to economic enslavement. No to the international erasure of France.”

Quote source: Jacques Chirac, Appel de Cochin, Speech communicated from the Cochin Hospital, December 6, 1978

“I have the honor, on behalf of the Government of the Republic, to ask the National Assembly to abolish the death penalty in France

Quote source: Robert Badinter, Speech to the National Assembly, September 17, 1981

“To all, France says: Courage, freedom will win. And if she says it from the capital of Mexico, it is because here these words have their full meaning.”

Quote source: François Mitterrand, Speech delivered in Cancun, October 20, 1981

“The Churches, the Ecclesial Communities and the Religions of the world show that they deeply desire the good of humanity

Quote source: John Paul II, Assisi, Basilica of St. Francis, October 27, 1986

“Negritude is the result of an active and offensive attitude of the spirit. It is a leap, and a leap of dignity.”

Quote source: Aimé Césaire, Contribution on Negritude on the occasion of the First Conference of Black Peoples of the Diaspora, Miami, February 26, 1987

“The courageous and welcome international support for the recognition of the State of Palestine is the striking proof of the rightness of the path we have chosen

Quote source: Yasser Arafat, Speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Geneva, December 13, 1988

“The privilege that you, the citizens of South Africa, have conferred upon us, as the first president of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist government, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.”

Quote source: Nelson Mandela, Speech in Pretoria, May 10, 1994

“For the time being, the path of inspections, favored by resolution 1441, must be strengthened and has not been explored to its fullest. The use of force can only be a last resort.

Quote source: Dominique de Villepin, Speech to the United Nations Security Council, New York, February 14, 2003

“We do not need to be spurred on or stimulated. Russia has a thousand-year history, and practically it has always had the privilege of practicing an independent foreign policy.”

Quote source: Vladimir Putin, Speech at the Munich Security Conference, February 10, 2007

“Yes, we can. America! We have done so much so far. We have seen so much. But there is still so much more to do.”

Quote source: Barack Obama, Speech in Chicago, November 4, 2008

History is yet to be made, and the quotes will continue to reflect that. These quotes mark the history of the world wars, the history of Free France, the history of the Cold War, the history of the United States, the history of the USSR, of Russia, the history of religions, the history of all the countries of the world.

These are some of the most famous quotes, and you can supplement them by studying in depth the speeches, words, or writing of the actors of history. We hope that they will allow you to immerse yourself in this history, to feel closer to this past.

You must not lose hope in humanity.
Humanity is an ocean: even if a few drops are soiled, the ocean does not become so.


20 contemporary history cards (1945–2017)