Memorandum by the Secretary of State
After talking with me on another matter during his call, the German Ambassador complained about an item appearing in a New York Communist paper which seemed to charge that Nazi propagandists were being stealthily brought into this country for purposes of disseminating their beliefs among the American people. I stated to the Ambassador that I had dismissed the matter summarily when it was brought to my attention at the press conference and had declined to give it any attention or comment. He then stated that the New York Times and other papers were charging that German shipping authorities were smuggling German immigrants into this country. I replied that this seemed unreasonable but that I would look into the matter and call it to the attention of Mr. McDermott, our press contact man in the Department.
The Ambassador then brought up the incident about another American being assaulted for failure to salute the Nazi colors at Dusseldorf on yesterday or the day before, and expressed his regret and that of his government. I stated that the matter giving me and my government the most serious concern was the seeming indifference of the German Government and the German authorities to this succession of assaults being made on Americans during recent weeks or months and the reported unwillingness of the police and other peace officers to take the slightest step towards doing their duty by making arrests and enforcing the law against such unprovoked assaults. The Ambassador replied that he was not aware these conditions existed, at least to anything like that extent. I [Page 394] stated that our government simply could not go along indefinitely with a steady succession of unprovoked assaults on Americans occurring in Germany, accompanied generally by reports, supported by affidavit, to the effect that police stood by and deliberately refused to make arrests, and that in the limited instances where prosecutions had been promised by governmental authorities nothing suggested by the facts had really been done in the way of securing convictions and imposing penalties. The Ambassador intimated that Americans in a foreign country like Germany should observe the local customs, which included that of giving the Nazi salute. I repeated to him what I had said to the Counsellor of the German Embassy some weeks ago, to the effect that I was striving to keep a thousand miles away from the necessity of notifying Americans that they must not enter Germany except at their own risk of physical injury. I then inquired of the Ambassador what he thought about the idea of an announcement by my government that unless Americans visiting Germany do give the Nazi salute on appropriate occasions, they must not expect the protection of the American Government if they are assaulted. The Ambassador said he thought that that was too drastic. I came back a number of times to the point that the German Government was not exhibiting sufficient interest in the prevention of these unjustifiable assaults; that the German peace officers and judicial authorities were not prosecuting as the facts warranted; and that my government must insist on some improvement in the attitude and policies of the German Government and its law officers. I made this as strong as I well could.