Before the full outbreak of World War II, Hitler and Nazi Germany were on their seemingly unstoppable war path to conquer continental Europe, posing on the brink of taking the island nation of Great Britain. For years, the British government under the prime ministership of Neville Chamberlain had painstakingly sought a peaceful solution to prevent the Nazi’s absolute takeover of the United Kingdoms with countless appeasements, despite Hiter’s insatiable conquest of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium and France. The opposition in Parliament had been urging for a full-on military retaliation against Nazi Germany’s aggressions, while members of the Government party were still undecided although leaning towards war. In spite of the replacement of Chamberlain with Churchill as prime minister in response to the opposition’s demands, and the imminent invasion of the German forces at the time, Chamberlain’s faction within the Conservative Party intrigued to have Churchill removed from office and swap him with Lord Halifax in order to push for a peace deal to be brokered by Mussolini’s Italy.
It was indeed the darkest hour not just for Britain but for Churchill as well, who was aware that Chamberlain and his supporters were plotting to kick him out of office for his refusal to back down in his opposition against any peace talks with Hitler. “Darkest hour” for the man in the literal sense, Churchill, in the movie titled as such, was poised to give his verdict on whether to accept peace talk later that day. Yet this was when light came for the great orator when the King came to his house in private, giving Churchill his support for war and advising him to go to the public for guidance. Taking the underground rail on a whim, Churchill had his encounter with the public, who expressed their wish to rather die than to accept slavery under fascist Germany. Back in Westminster, the prime minister received support from his own party members who did not want to see the Swastika flown over the nation. In the end of the film, Churchill received a standing ovation for his speech advocating total war with Germany.
During the film, I could not help but think about Hong Kong. Even though the Pan-Democrats have abused and exhausted the usage of the term, we are indeed facing our “darkest hour” as Hong Kong had never seen before. For years, even before the Exchange of Sovereignty in 1997, the people have been told that appeasing China is the only option for Hong Kong, that to do otherwise would only incur the wrath of the Chinese communist party. At first, most Hong Kongers went along with the idea, thinking that the powers in Beijing were far removed from this “island nation” and the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen was nothing but an artificially urbanised backwater village. Yet ever since 2010, the Chinese have been creeping closer towards us – similar to the way German forces pushed towards the coasts of Europe as portrayed in “Darkest Hour” – making ridiculous single-sided demands and alterations to the Sino-British Joint Declaration one after another as Hong Kongers watched helplessly on. In all the appeasements, we were told they will ensure us our “independence” politically and socially. Now, the enemy is amongst us, eroding and corroding our languages, our cultures and our future.
In 2017 and 2018, Hong Kong has been all but conquered. Our once vaunted integrity has been completely undermined as the ICAC and our Legislative Council have been neutralised, the Common Law judicial system that Hong Kong has inherited from Britain lies in tatters after China’s lackeys in Hong Kong violated it over and over again, and the Basic Law that was meant to safeguard Hong Kongers’ rights have been corrupted by China and reduced to meaningless words and empty promises. Hong Kong’s resistance forces have been forced to retreat over and over again, just as the Allies had been prior to the evacuation at Dunkirk. But unlike history, Hong Kong does not have Operation Dynamo, and our fighters are being caught and jailed one by one. And unlike the movie, the general public opinion is against fighting the Chinese. The only things that our reality has in common with the story in the film is that despite the enemy surrounding us on all sides, fellow Hong Kongers are intriguing against those of us who wish to fight to the very end, and that when we ask Western nations to help us, all we received was well wishes, just as Churchill received only President Roosevelt’s well wishes when he asked if the Americans could spare a few battleships.
As Britain was back then, Hong Kong is now all alone.
But just as Churchill never gave up on his country, neither should we give up on Hong Kong. If Churchill himself would rather risk war with Chiang Kai Shek’s China to keep Hong Kong separate from the Chinese so soon after the end of World War II, it means Hong Kong is worth saving.
For those of us who will not allow ourselves to be enslaved under the Chinese, I can only borrow and rewrite the words from Churchill himself:
I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, we shall prove ourselves once more able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of [conflicts], and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone. At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do.
We shall go on to the end; we shall defend our [Hong Kong], whatever the cost may be. We shall fight in the city and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender! We [and those of us across the seas] would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the [Western world], with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of [our beloved Hong Kong].
Never surrender, ever.
Hong Kong will prevail. We must prevail.
For all our sakes.