Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation With the German Ambassador (Luther)
The German Ambassador came in at my request, previously made of him, in order that I might ascertain from him in person whether it [Page 353] would be agreeable for me to discuss with him in the most unofficial, personal and friendly manner the Jewish situation in Germany, and to make full and emphatic representations to him in this tone and manner of the state of sentiment in the United States, both among the Jews and the general public, relative to the reported atrocities and mistreatments of the Jews in Germany either by individual groups or by the Government, or both. I stated that my purpose in thus talking with him was to make fully possible the preservation of our friendly relations with the German Government by thus keeping up as clear understandings as possible.
I then called the attention of the Ambassador to the vast heaps of memorials, letters and other solemn and earnest protests by groups of American citizens of all religious denominations and racial persuasions earnestly protesting against the reported mistreatment of Jews in Germany and urging our Government to take all possible steps to terminate such treatment, even to the extent of making very definite and more or less peremptory demands of the German Government itself. I stated that I have been doing all within my power to carry out this spirit by exercising every possible resource to bring about a cessation of the reported acts or mistreatments in Germany and, gradually at least, to encourage a return to normal conditions but, since this problem was an internal problem within Germany and under the immediate jurisdiction of the German Government, I did not undertake bluntly or definitely to make complaint directly to the German Government. I did, however, in various representations and despatches endeavor to draw out the German Government, and in a favorable direction, towards the satisfactory treatment of this reported uprising against the Jews in Germany so that the Government would thereby be most disposed and calculated to assert its efforts to compose this situation and bring it back to normal.
The German Ambassador, although I did not request him to make reply to my statements unless he felt justified in doing so, proceeded with an elaborate statement, the central point of which was that a general civic revolution is taking place in Germany in which the young Germans are undertaking to bring into control the best pure German element. He stated that the mistreatment of Jews was only one segment of the conflicting conditions that developed under this revolution, against groups; that it included certain other groups, as well as Jews; that the Government is not a party to the Jewish antagonisms or persecutions, as the case may be considered; that the Jews comprise one per cent of the population of Germany, but that many hospitals are manned exclusively by Jews; that of four thousand lawyers in Berlin, three thousand are Jews; that Jews occupy key positions in all important walks and avocations entirely disproportionate to their relative [Page 354] population in Germany, and that in the general movement to equalize the condition of the various groups and even nationalities, including certain other groups that poured into Germany following the War, it was not unnatural that these groups became a target for more or less rough treatment as a necessary part of this plan or general readjustment of the organic political structure of the German Government, of their organized Society, and of their general economic situation.
The Ambassador insists that the worst has been over for some time, so far as it relates to the Jewish troubles in Germany; that the situation is constantly improving; that there is no purpose to expel the Jews as a race from Germany; that many laws and court agencies are from week to week becoming more and more available for the protection of Jews and Jewish rights and property, and that it will only be a question of a reasonable time when normal conditions and relationships will, to a measurable extent, be brought about.
I repeated with much emphasis the deep seated feeling in this country and expressed the earnest hope that every possible step be taken to alleviate and relieve the acute situation in Germany as it relates to the treatment of the Jews. The Ambassador showed every disposition thus to confer personally and unofficially, both now and hereafter, relative to any subject where there might be a chance to promote better understanding and more friendly relationships between the Governments and the peoples of this country and Germany.