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

No. 1255

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that Dr. Syrup, the President of the Federal Bureau for Unemployment and Unemployment Insurance, has issued an important notice the effect of which will be to compel numerous young workers under 25 years of age to vacate their jobs in favor of older unemployed persons, many of whom are fathers of families.

All public and private activities are affected by the order, with the exception of farming, forestry, domestic service, and navigation. On October 1 at the latest, the heads of the more important enterprises must report to the appropriate labor office the number of their laborers and employees that are either over or under 25 years of age, together with a statement as to what extent the younger ones can be replaced by older persons. Exceptions, however, will be made in favor of married men, apprentices, persons who are obliged to support others, former members of the army, navy, or voluntary labor service, and “old fighters” of the National Socialist Party (apparently those who were members before January 30, 1933). The persons who lose their occupations through this process will be given jobs on the farm or in domestic service or in the voluntary labor service.

In the future, no person under 25 can be engaged without the express permission of the labor offices, and in making his request for this permission the prospective employer must show that the engaging of the young person is necessary for the good of the factory or for political reasons. Apprentices who sign a contract of not less than two years are excepted.

Should the older person of over 40 years who fills the place of the discharged employee prove that he is unable to do as much work as his younger predecessor, the State will grant certain allowances, presumably to make up for the smaller wages he will receive.

The purpose of this measure is politico-economic. The decrease in unemployment, to judge from recent monthly statistics, has become slow, and winter is approaching. Although it is acknowledged that the changes will occasion friction and difficulties, it seems probable [Page 263] that the plan in question will cause less discontent than to permit a father of a family to remain unemployed during the cold months. The numerous exceptions made indicate, nevertheless, that the authorities are trying not to make the measure unduly unpopular, while the favor shown to the “old fighters” of the party can only be described as a political move.

An article in the Völkischer Beobachter indicates an attempt to make the decree more palatable. “The measure was necessary,” it asserts, “from the standpoint of the necessities of the population. It is an act of great comradeship when young people give up their work to the older ones. Those comrades under 25 years of age who abandon their occupation will be assigned principally to domestic service, agriculture, or the labor service. In so far as they are directed towards the farm and the labor service, they are becoming active fighters for National Socialist reconstruction. It is true that complaints are heard that comrades under 25 years of age will have their prospects of future success injured. That is untrue. The new State has an over-abundance of need for strength to carry out its purpose.”

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd