862.4016/266: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany (Gordon) to the Secretary of State

54. Since preparing my telegram 52 of March 29, 5 p.m., reports have come to the Embassy from numberless sources which indicate that the situation is rapidly taking a turn for the worse. Although I have been physically unable to obtain actual confirmation of most of these reports as well as of some others reaching me since Saturday (including allegations of further cases of physical mistreatment of Jews and this morning even a report—as yet entirely unconfirmed—that last night a regular razzia occurred at Gleiwitz in which four Jews were killed and the [Page 336] authorities were trying to conceal the fact) there are certainly indications that the lack of discipline which seemed for a time to have been checked by Hitler’s orders to his followers is again raising its head.

The general view of various people whom I have seen in the last 3 days is that the radical wing of the Nazi Party is absolutely determined to make full use of the present opportunity to crush the Jews in Germany and in the process there is every prospect that the SA detachments will again get out of hand and quite possibly to a far larger degree than in the week following the Nazi electoral victory. There is evidence that Hitler himself favors the application of the boycott if foreign anti-German agitation does not abate in such measure as to justify the calling off of the boycott (I may say that in spite of all the allegations as to anti-German boycott in foreign countries I have as yet no definite confirmation of concrete action of such kind. Can the Department give me any official information in the premises?).

It is probable that if Hitler decides the boycott is to be applied he would wish it to be done without physical violence (hence the creation of responsible committees and the injunctions of discipline and order in the boycott manifesto) but it is very doubtful if the turbulent SA elements who [embody?] the ruthless temper of the radical Nazi leaders—and in fact look upon Goering as their direct chief—would continue to be amenable to Hitler’s attempts at control.

A leading industrialist, known for his temperate views, in a conversation this morning with the Consul General gave it as his considered opinion that the only hope of preventing the situation developing into something closely akin to a veritable reign of terror now lay in Hitler but that it was a very slim hope inasmuch as his opponents in the party were stronger men than he. This industrialist suggested that in a situation of this gravity anything which might possibly be of help should be considered, and he felt that if I could go to Hitler informally and indicate to him in a friendly way the serious concern with which developments in Germany were being viewed in our country, together with a reminder of the friendly attitude which our Government had consistently maintained towards Germany, including his own Government, it might have a favorable effect; he said that he had every reason to believe that Hitler would listen to such a message from this Embassy more readily than from any other mission here.

The above is somewhat in line with the suggestion made to the Department in my telegram 47, March 25, 3 p.m. While in a situation of such seriousness I should be only too glad to undertake anything which has the slightest prospect of being helpful and while I am in favor of some message of the kind being conveyed, the drawbacks to the suggested conversation are quite apparent. Hitler would most probably ask [Page 337] what events were causing concern to our Government and a specific reference to the projected boycott—perhaps leading further to something in the nature of an argument as to its merits—might then be difficult to avoid. Also if I were to try to see Hitler on such a mission I presume I should have to see the Foreign Minister first, asking if he had any objection to my seeing the Chancellor in the premises. In order to obviate these inconveniences, therefore, the Department, if it sees any merit in the suggestion, might prefer to send a message of this nature direct to Hitler through the German Embassy in Washington.

To sum up: the developments of the past 5 days have been distinctly adverse; events have been moving with such increasing rapidity and have now attained such momentum that—serious as it is to say so—I must give it as my present view that almost any development in the way of public disorder is possible within the near future.

  1. Telegram in three sections.