The Ambassador in Germany (Dodd) to the Secretary of State

No. 1474

Sir: In continuation of my despatches Nos. 573 [578) of March 6 [5] and 858 [852] of May 25 [22],47 I have the honor to inform the Department that the Embassy’s attention continues to be called repeatedly to the endeavors of the “Volksbund für das Deutschtum im Ausland” (VDA) and other organizations to maintain and stimulate the sense of popular and racial unity between the Germans of the Reich and the “Auslandsdeutschen” or so-called foreign Germans.

The activities of the VDA continue to appear in different forms. In Memel, the Lithuanian authorities have seized funds sent from Germany by the association for the alleged purpose of making payments to former soldiers injured in the war. Journeys of Dr. Steinacher, the leader of the organization, and other prominent members, to places outside of the Reich, such as Danzig and Upper Silesia, and Brazil, have been reported in the press. The political purpose underlying Dr. Steinacher’s visit to Danzig in September is indicated by a speech which he delivered on that occasion to a group of Hitler Youth. He is reported to have stated that: “Danzig, just as Austria, is a state created by the coercion of the treaties. Since a political union does not exist, this loss must be made up by a prof ounder sense of popular consciousness. With Adolf Hitler the eternal force of Germanism has risen, which is greater than the possession of a passport of citizenship. This Germanism has become the highest law for us …48 We shall continue the struggle for justice for the German people in the consciousness that the German people are greater than [Page 254] the German State and that membership in a people is deeper rooted than State citizenship.”

On September 16, called the “Day of the German People,” the Volksbund held open-air ceremonies in a suburb of Berlin, attended by 70,000 spectators and participants, the latter being school children who are members of the organization. The Foreign Office was represented on this occasion, as well as the Ministry of the Interior, the Propaganda Ministry, the Reichswehr, in the person of General Blomberg, and the City of Berlin by the Mayor, Dr. Sahm. Prominent Nazi officials were also in attendance. The program consisted of an allegorical play showing the greatness and sufferings of the German people, given by the children, gymnastic exercises, dances, choral singing, and the presentation of prizes for the best essays written by German children both in and outside of the Reich. In the speeches that were made, the usual statements were repeated about the 30 million Germans living outside the boundaries of the Reich and the necessity was emphasized of maintaining the German schools abroad, which are the fortifications and defense of the German race. “Adolf Hitler,” declared Dr. Steinacher, “is the first statesman who has proclaimed the rights of the German race and has made them the fundamental law of inter-racial politics.”

In order to support German schools in foreign lands the VDA announced that the children of the Society would carry on a collection of funds for this purpose during the first two weeks of October. On November 3, the organization issued an appeal to the public to send books to Germans living outside of the Reich. For those persons “the German book is as necessary for the support of life as the daily bread.”

Another organization, which devotes its attention to Germans resident abroad but which seems to be somewhat less outspokenly political and racial in its activities than the VDA, is the “Deutsche Auslands Institut of Stuttgart.” It appears to be primarily interested in cultural matters, since, in a meeting held in September, an announcement was made of a gift to be used for the purpose of inviting public attention to the cultural, technical, and economic achievements of Germans abroad. Nevertheless, to judge from the statements made at this assembly, it would seem that the Institute will now interest itself in racial propaganda.

The Foreign Organization of the Nazi Party seems to have limited its endeavors to the enlistment in the service of the Party of Reich citizens living abroad. Nevertheless there are now indications that this organization also is engaging in racial activities. In view of Hitler’s opinions, it would not be surprising if this were the case.

[Page 255]

That the desire for a closer union among all Germans scattered throughout the world may have another motive than merely the call of blood and race is shown by a number of significant statements. During the meeting of the Nazi Party at Nuremberg last September, the leader of the German Chilean Youth, Addo Schwarzenburg, informed a representative of the Völkischer Beobachter that “In Chile, which is one of the few states consistently friendly to Germany and which did not participate in the World War, Germanism is just as strong as it was eighty years ago, when the immigration took place. This is possibly because the Chileans respect Germanism in the same way that the Germans resident in Chile respect the Ibero-Chileans.…49 Through the preservation of German consciousness and the German soul we want to encourage a sturdy German, popular existence. We desire to be loyal Chilean citizens and by keeping our own world clean, serve our race and the country that offers us its hospitality.”

Even more definite in its expressions is a quotation, in translation, taken from an address made some months ago at a meeting of the “Vereinigung Carl Schurz” in Berlin by Dr. Kuhnemann, of Breslau.

“We are at the very beginning of our national history. You, our brothers across the ocean, the greatest day of your life too was the day on which Germany found the way to her self, her true soul. The German resurrection signifies also resurrection for you and your best soul. What has scarcely ever happened is happening to you. In the World War you quite well understood your duty. For the first time your souls were taxed with a duty involving international history. It was your duty to guide your new country spiritually, so that it might grasp the meaning of the German war, and to spare it the ignominy of falling a victim to the flood in fulfilling this duty. But now—what scarcely ever happens—the same duty presents itself to you for the second time. You are expected to teach America to understand the new Germany. It is your share in the renewed reconstruction of the world. Do not be found wanting this time! Heavy clouds are still hanging over this present-day Germany. But never have the vistas of Germany’s future been so bright to the eyes of the Germans!”

It is not improbable that a guiding impulse which is present in this constant agitation is political—to protect Germany in case of future war and to further her prestige and possible territorial expansion. It is true, nevertheless, that imperialistic tendencies have been publicly denied.

As of possible interest to the Department, the Embassy has ascertained discreetly, that the VDA agent in the United States is a certain C. A. Orgell, of 431 Riverside Drive, New York City. Pamphlets and literature can, it is believed, be obtained from him.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Omission indicated in the original despatch.
  3. Omission indicated in the original despatch.