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#158: German Sub Attacks Push Wilson Into War

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The German submarine U-36 near the ship Batavia V in April 1915
The German submarine U-36 near the ship Batavia V in April 1915

BOB DOUGHTY: Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history in VOA Special English.

There was one main issue in America's presidential election of nineteen sixteen. That issue was war. Europe was in the middle of what is now remembered as World War One. It was the bloodiest conflict the world had ever known.

美国1916年总统大选的一个主要议题是战争。当时,欧洲正在打第一次世界大战,其血腥程度超过了以前的所有战争。

Most Americans wanted no part of the struggle in Europe. They supported their country's official position -- neutrality. This desire was the main reason President Woodrow Wilson won re-election. People gave Wilson their votes because they hoped he would continue to keep America out of the war.

绝大多数美国人不想介入这场战争,他们支持当时美国政府奉行的政策,即保持中立。而这种厌战情绪也正是伍德罗.威尔逊赢得连任的重要原因。人们投票选威尔逊,希望他能够继续让战火不烧到美国。

This week in our series, Larry West and Maurice Joyce tell more about the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.

LARRY WEST: Like most Americans, Woodrow Wilson did not want war. He feared that entering the conflict would cost the United States many lives. Wilson read the reports from European battlefields. The news was unbelievably terrible. By the end of nineteen sixteen, several million men had been killed, wounded, or captured.

和大多数美国人一样,威尔逊也不想参与战争。他担心卷入世界大战会使许多美国人丧命。他读到来自欧洲战场的报告,都是些非常可怕的消息。到1916年底,已经有数百万人在战争中阵亡、受伤或被俘。

At the Battle of Verdun, French forces stopped a German attack.

The cost was high on both sides. More than seven hundred thousand soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured. The Battle of the Somme followed. Britain lost sixty thousand men on the first day. By the time the battle was over, losses for both sides totaled more than a million.

在凡尔登战役中,法国军队阻止了德军发起的一场进攻,然而双方都付出了惨重代价,超过70万士兵或死、或伤或被俘虏。随后又爆发了索姆战役。英军在第一天的交战中就损失了6万人,到战役结束时,双方的死亡人数加在一起超过了100万。

Trench warfare during World War I
Trench warfare during World War I

Germany also was at war on its eastern border, with Russia. Losses on that battlefront, too, totaled more than a million men.

德国还在其东部边界同俄罗斯对阵,这条战线上的死亡人数也超过100万。

MAURICE JOYCE: At the time of America's presidential election in nineteen sixteen, Germany seemed to be winning the war. Its losses were terrible. But the losses of its enemies -- The Allies -- were even worse. German forces occupied much of northern France and almost all of Belgium. German and Austrian soldiers also held parts of Russia, Italy, Romania, and Serbia.

美国1916年举行总统选举时,德国似乎在赢得这场战争。虽然德国损失惨重,但它的敌人--协约国的损失更惨重。德军当时占领了法国北部和几乎整个比利时。德国和奥匈帝国的士兵还占领了俄罗斯、意大利、罗马尼亚和塞尔维亚一些地方。

Germany was winning on the battlefield. The Allies were winning at sea. A British blockade cut off almost all German trade with the rest of the world. Even food shipments were blocked. As a result, Germany faced mass starvation. It urgently needed to break the blockade and get food.

德国在陆地战场占上风,而协约国则在海战中处于优势。英国实行的封锁切断了德国几乎所有的贸易通道,连食品补给船也被封锁了。

LARRY WEST: This situation finally forced Germany to make the decision that would bring the United States into the war.

结果,德国面临严重的饥荒,迫切需要打破海上封锁获得食品。这种形势最终迫使德国做了一个决定,也正是这个决定导致美国参加了战争。

It decided to use its submarines to break the British blockade. The submarines would attack any ships that came near Britain or other parts of Europe. This included ships from neutral countries, like the United States.

德国决定利用潜水艇来打破英国的封锁。潜艇将攻击所有靠近英国和欧洲其它地方的船只,包括来自美国等中立国家的船只。

Earlier, Germany had made a promise to the United States. Its submarines would not attack civilian ships unless warning was given and the lives of those on the ships were saved. Now Germany was withdrawing that promise. It said unrestricted submarine warfare would begin immediately.

在此之前,德国曾经向美国保证,在未事先警告和确保船上人员性命安全的情况下,德国不会向民用船只发动袭击。而现在,德国收回了这一承诺,并宣布,无限制的潜艇战将立即开始。

German ruler Kaiser Wilhelm said: "If Wilson wants war, let him make it, and let him then have it."

德国皇帝威廉说:"如果威尔逊想打仗,那就让他打,然后让他自己承担后果。"

MAURICE JOYCE: President Wilson immediately broke diplomatic relations with Germany. He still hoped the two nations would not go to war. He left that decision to Germany. If German submarines sank American ships, Wilson would have no choice but to declare war.

威尔逊总统立即中断了与德国的外交关系,但他仍然希望美国和德国不要开战。他把这个决定权交给了德国。如果德国潜艇击沉美国船只,威尔逊就别无选择,只能向德国宣战了。

Most American shipping companies feared attack by German submarines. Throughout the early part of nineteen seventeen, they kept their ships in home ports. They wanted protection. So they asked for permission to arm their ships. At first, President Wilson refused to seek such permission from Congress. He did not want to do anything that might cause Germany to declare war. Then he received secret news from Britain.

大部分美国航运公司都担心遭到德国潜艇的攻击。在1917年初的头几个月,这些公司都把船停在港口不出航。它们需要保护,所以要求武装自己的船只。起初,威尔逊总统拒绝就这件事提请国会批准,因为他不想采取任何可能使德国对美宣战的行动。可后来,他收到了一封来自英国的密信。

British agents had gotten a copy of a telegram from Germany's foreign minister to Germany's ambassador in Mexico. The telegram said Germany was planning hostile acts against the United States. Wilson acted quickly. He began putting guns and sailors on American trade ships.

英国的情报人员得到了德国外交部长发给德国驻墨西哥大使的电报复本。电报说,德国正计划对美国采取敌对行动。于是,威尔逊立即动手,开始把枪炮和水兵部署在美国商船上。

LARRY WEST: It did not take long for the worst to happen. Within days, a German submarine sank an unarmed American ship, the Algonquin. Then three more American ships were sunk. Many lives were lost.

最坏的情况很快就出现了。没过几天,一艘德国潜艇击沉了一艘没有武装的美国民用船--阿尔冈琴号,随后,又有三艘美国船被击沉,许多人丧生。

President Wilson no longer had a choice between war and peace. There would be war. Wilson called a special session of Congress. Members of both the Senate and House of Representatives gathered in one room. They stood as the president walked quickly to the front. He stood silent for a moment before speaking. This is what he said:

威尔逊总统在打与不打的问题上再也没有选择的余地了,战争在所难免。威尔逊要求国会召开特别会议,参众两院议员聚集在一起准备开会。当威尔逊总统快步走进国会会场时,所有议员都站了起来。威尔逊站在那里沉默了一会,随后发表讲话,他说:

MAURICE JOYCE: 'I fully understanding the serious step I am taking, I advise that the Congress declare the recent acts of the German government to be, in fact, nothing less than war against the United States.

"我完全清楚我所要采取的行动的严重性,我建议国会宣布,德国政府最近所采取的行动,实质上是同美国作战。"

President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war on Germany in April 1917
President Woodrow Wilson asks Congress to declare war on Germany in April 1917

"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war. But right is more precious than peace. And we will fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts -- for democracy, for the rights and liberties of small nations, and for the belief that a worldwide union of free people can bring peace and safety to all nations."

威尔逊说:"领导热爱和平的美国人民参加战争是一件可怕的事。但正义比和平更加可贵,而我们为之战斗的正是我们一直所珍爱的事物--民主、权利、弱小国家的自由,以及全世界自由人民团结起来可以把和平与安全带给世界各国的信念。"

LARRY WEST: President Wilson's emotional speech brought tears to the eyes of many of the lawmakers. They felt the great seriousness of his request.

威尔逊这番激情澎湃的演说让很多议员热泪盈眶,他们感到总统的请求是极其严肃的。

Outside, crowds lined the street to cheer Wilson as he returned to the White House from the Capitol Building. He sat in his car and shook his head sadly. "Think of what it is they are cheering," he said. "My message today was a message of death for our young men. How strange it seems they would cheer that."

在会场外面,大群的人站在街道两旁,向从国会返回白宫的威尔逊欢呼。然而,威尔逊总统坐在车中,悲伤地摇头,他说:"想一想吧,他们所欢呼的是什么呢?我今天所发表的演说,将把年轻的美国小伙子们推向死亡,而他们却在为此欢呼,这真是奇怪。"

On April sixth, nineteen seventeen, Congress approved a declaration of war against Germany.

1917年4月6日,美国国会批准对德宣战。

MAURICE JOYCE: The Allies -- Britain, France and Russia -- welcomed American involvement.

由英国、法国和俄罗斯组成的协约国欢迎美国参战。

The war was going badly for them. It had been very costly in lives, money, and supplies. Allied shipping was suffering heavy losses from German submarine attacks. A British naval blockade had greatly reduced food shipments to Germany. Now, Britain itself faced dangerously low supplies of food.

对它们来说,这场战争打得很艰难,它们已经损失了大量的军人、金钱和物资。由于德国潜艇的攻击,协约国的军舰也损失惨重。英国的海上封锁虽然极大地减少了德国的食品供应,但现在,英国自己也面临严重的食品短缺。

Allied representatives went to Washington to explain what The Allies needed. They needed supplies -- especially food -- immediately. They needed money to pay for the supplies. They needed ships to get the supplies from America to Europe. And they needed American soldiers.

协约国派代表前往华盛顿,向美国解释他们需要什么。他们需要补给,特别是食品,而且马上就得要,需要钱,以购买补给物资,需要船只,好将物资从美国运往欧洲,此外,他们还需要美国士兵。

LARRY WEST: President Wilson and Congress worked together to organize the United States for war. Congress gave Wilson new wartime powers. He soon formed a council to build ships, improve industrial production, and control national transportation. He formed an agricultural agency to increase food production and food exports. And he formed an information committee to build public support for the war.

威尔逊总统和国会合作,准备参战。国会赋予威尔逊新的战时权力。很快,威尔逊成立了一个专门委员会,负责建造船只,提高工业生产和控制全国的运输;成立了一个农业机构,负责增加粮食生产和出口;他还成立了一个信息委员会,负责动员民众对战争的支持。

Wilson's efforts succeeded. The Allies quickly got the ships, supplies, and money they requested. Most important, they soon got American soldiers.

威尔逊的努力取得了成功。协约国很快就从美国获得了船只、补给物资和资金。更为重要的是,他们很快就得到了美军的支援。

MAURICE JOYCE: Allied military leaders said only about a half-million troops were needed from the United States. But American officials decided to build a much larger army. Before long, large numbers of American soldiers were crossing the Atlantic Ocean. They would fight the Germans at the western battlefronts of Europe.

协约国军方领导人说,他们只需要大约50万美军,但美国官员决定组建更为庞大的军队。不久,大量的美军越过大西洋来到欧洲。他们将在欧洲西部战场与德国作战。

The extra strength they gave the Allies would play a major part in helping defeat Germany. That will be our story next week.

美军给协约国带来的军力支援将在击败德国的战争中发挥重要作用。

(MUSIC)

BOB DOUGHTY: Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Larry West and Maurice Joyce.

You can find our series online with transcripts, MP3s, podcasts and images at www.unsv.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION -- an American history series in VOA Special English.

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