882.4016/80: Telegram

The Counselor of Embassy in Germany (Gordon) to the Secretary of State

43. Department’s 28, March 22 [21], 6 p.m. As Ambassador Sackett left for Southern Germany yesterday there was necessarily scant opportunity to discuss the matter and accordingly the Ambassador requested me to send this answering telegram in my own name.

Information received up to now indicates that the phase of physical mistreatment of Jews may be considered virtually terminated for the present at least; likewise it is my opinion that police authority—which prior to Hitler’s injunctions of strict discipline (see Embassy’s telegrams 33, March 11, 12 noon, and 35, March 13, 12 noon5) had to a dangerous extent been slipping into the hands of the irregular auxiliary police in Nazi uniforms—is once more held by the regular police.

Another phase of anti-Semitic action, however, is now manifest. Jews in administrative, executive, and even judicial positions in the Reich Government are being expelled from their positions in large numbers and the same is true in state, provincial and communal governments; moreover many instances of Jews being forced out of private positions have occurred. For instance, in the legal profession and in the operatic and theatrical world (largely state subsidized) Jews have been prevented from pursuing their profession and there is reason to fear that [Page 329] this movement may spread even to physicians and scientists and that Jewish students in universities may encounter serious obstacles.

So far, aside from the picketing of Jewish merchandising stores—which in the last 10 days seems to have somewhat lessened—instances of intimidation of Jews engaged in ordinary business or banking have not yet been relatively numerous. Inasmuch as in Germany many leading business men and practically all of the important bankers are Jews the question of their removal may cause some hesitancy to those elements in the Nazi Party who are directing this anti-Semitic purge. However, if these more immoderate elements should prevail in the Nazi councils it would not seem unreasonable to apprehend that an attempt might be made to remove these important industrialists and financiers piecemeal more or less by way of experiment to see how successfully they might be replaced by men of lesser professional experience.

There is no doubt that a very definite struggle is going on between the violent radical wing of the Nazi Party, represented by Goering and Goebbels, and what may now be termed the more moderate section of the party, headed by Hitler himself, who so far (I use these last two words deliberately) are the Nazi’s partners in the Government. The former have in their favor the considerations that for a long period the Nazi leaders, including Hitler himself, have indoctrinated their followers with anti-Semitic hatred and revenge, and that if the rank and file of the S.A. detachments are not given an outlet for the passions thus engendered and must in great numbers be removed from their pleasant new jobs as largely uncontrolled auxiliary police, serious trouble within the party is bound to result. The more moderate group have in their favor the ensemble of those considerations which appeal to all civilized and reasonable people plus a greater realization of the inevitable reaction in the outside world if the state of uncontrolled terrorism existing just after the elections were allowed to continue unchallenged.

At the present moment in my judgment the more reasonable element has the upper hand. However, it must be borne in mind that at any moment the present Government in which the Nazis are preponderant could by a decree outlawing the Communist Party give the Nazis a so-called legal majority of the remaining Reichstag without counting their Nationalist allies; this, be it added, quite aside from the possibility of the Nazis simply deciding to declare an out and out totally undisguised dictatorship. In either of these latter events the restraining influence of the Nationalist leaders would lose practically all its weight. Only last week Von Papen delivered a speech at Breslau of markedly temperate and statesmanlike tone in which he not only reinforced Hitler’s appeals for discipline and abjured the victors of the last elections not to spoil their triumph by unworthy acts of revenge and [Page 330] violence which could only bring discredit upon the new regime in foreign countries; it is significant, however, that this speech was constantly interrupted by large numbers of Nazi hecklers. In the foregoing I have pointed out the dangerous potentialities of the situation. On the other hand it is true that a far-reaching revolution has actually taken place in the last few [days?] and that necessarily under the best conditions it would take some time before a state of equilibrium can be reestablished. Such stabilization appears to have been reached in the field of physical violence and it may be—as the more moderate elements in the Government contend—that within a comparatively short time it will be attained as regards molestation of the Jews in civil life.

In our brief discussion of the subject the Ambassador expressed the opinion that this process of stabilization would be expedited if the Nazi leaders now flushed with their recent victory are not made more defiant by continued organized protests against their actions throughout the rest of the world based on what they may perhaps have some ground to consider as misrepresentation of what has actually occurred. On the other hand the German press of the last few days has displayed such marked sensitiveness to foreign comment that it seems to me that the publication abroad of actual facts, if unclouded by exaggerations from press or private sources which might serve as an excuse for irritation, cannot but have some deterrent effect.

Most of the consulates have been reporting copiously and very frequently. I may specifically refer to the Berlin Consulate General’s despatch No. 11966 now en route to the Department giving a recital of facts which may be read in connection with this telegram.

  1. Telegram in four sections.
  2. Latter not printed.
  3. Dated March 21, p. 323.