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

No. 451

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that a new labor law which will constitute the charter of German labor was approved by the Cabinet on January 12. It goes into effect on May 1.

Although the full text of the law has not yet appeared, its substance has been made public officially. The basis of the new constitution of labor is the industrial plant whose leader is the manufacturer. He determines all the operating problems of the undertaking and is assisted in all social questions by a confidential council, the members of which are selected from the employees. The employer is the chairman.

All conditions affecting employment will be settled by the employer after previous consultation with the council. Against his decision the latter can appeal to a Treuhdänder or trustee who is the supreme [Page 257] representative of the Federal Government in his respective division of industry. He must also supervise the scales of wages and take into consideration any large discharges of workmen.

Within the scope of the Treuhänder’s activities a court of honor will be set up, under the leadership of a judicial functionary, which will render decisions on any questions relating to infringements upon social duty committed by any members of industry (such as malicious interference with the conduct or management of the industry). From these courts an appeal lies to the Federal Court of Honor.

Additional protection is given to the workmen against allegedly unjust discharge by the employer.

The enactment of the new law was celebrated on January 14 at a mass meeting in Berlin at which, according to the official report, a hundred thousand residents of Berlin had gathered in order to express their thanks for this legislation. The chief speaker at this assemblage was Dr. Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda.

The Minister told his hearers that Hitler’s Government intended to protect German labor and restore the honor of the German laboring man. It had no intention, as was said abroad, to enslave the laboring man in the chains of international capitalism after having freed him from class warfare.

The National Socialists had not been able, in twelve months, to remove all misery from Germany. Many persons were still suffering. Those, however, whom they had deposed from their positions of power had given the German workman nothing but empty phrases. “The laborer was only the coolie of the money power, a creature without will-power in the hands of the international capitalists.” The Nazis, continued Dr. Goebbels, did not consider it their duty to be the money gatherers for any capitalist power but rather to give the workman his bread. The German Revolution was accomplished, not by the rich and mighty, but by the weak and poor, and the people shall enjoy the fruits of this revolution. The Hitlerites had come from the huts and not the palaces and they will never separate themselves from the people.

After repeating that the revolution was a Socialist and labor movement, a revolution against Marxism and reaction, the speaker declared that false prophets were at work to belittle and falsify the great accomplishments of the National Socialists. Reactionaries were trying to maintain that the revolution was made by and for them. The National Socialists, however, are watching the mice who are attempting to gnaw at the foundations of the new Reich and at the right moment they will catch them. To do so is one of the objects of the new law, which will place the workman and nation’s work under the protection of the state, so that the workman will enjoy the fruits of his labor.

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Dr. Goebbels concluded his speech by assuring the audience that the Government would not forsake them during the hard winter and that with the coming of spring the great campaign against unemployment would recommence in order to cut in half the number of those still out of work.

The address is obviously an adroit attempt to enlist the continued support of the laboring man by showing him that the revolution was made for and by him and that the National Socialist Party will oppose the alleged efforts of international capitalists to enslave him. What may be more significant, however, is Dr. Goebbels’ reference to those who are trying to undermine the strength of the Government. In doing so he refers to so-called “reactionaries”. From reliable sources, however, the Embassy has gathered that opposition to the Government’s efforts to create a “totalitarian” state is widespread. In addition to the discontent aroused by the religious difficulties it appears that in the universities and in the Reichswehr and among German women there is dissatisfaction and concern. Many university professors fear that the Government will restrict and limit the freedom of academic speech and thought that has prevailed in university circles. The Reichswehr dislikes the pretentions and self-importance of the SA and SS, while many German women fear that they will lose the vote and resent the policy of the Nazis which tends to restrict the activities of the feminine portion of the population. They do not forget that there are several million more women than men living in Germany today.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd