862.4016/1339

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

No. 407

Sir: With reference to previous despatches on the discriminatory legislation against Jews in Germany, I have the honor to report that in an article appearing in the Deutsche Juristen Zeitung (official organ of the leading German jurists’ association) of January 1, 1934, Dr. Frick, the Reich Minister of the Interior, reviewed the anti-Jewish legislation enacted by the Nazi régime. In this article he defended the action of the Government, but at the same time pointed out that the Government was fully aware of the limits of such legislation. He also reiterated an earlier statement made by him to the effect that the racial theory on which this legislation was based must be free of prejudices against other races and their cultural achievements.

Dr. Frick admitted that the German people is not racially pure since it comprises various races. He contended, however, that since the Nordic element was predominant the German people could well be regarded as Nordic.

The Jews, he said, stood out in sharp relief from the other races and were a menace to the German people. Though they constituted but 1.5 per cent of the total population they had acquired, especially since 1918, an undue share of influence in the economic, financial and political spheres. The Nazis had realized this danger long ago. National Socialism was based on the principle of racial purity. National Socialism and the German State with which it had become identical stood or fell with the racial idea. It was only natural therefore that the racial purification of the German people should become one of the most urgent tasks of the Government.

The first legal application of this principle, he went on to explain, was embodied in the Law to Reestablish the Professional Civil Service of April 7, 1933 (see despatch No. 2309 of April 19, 193384). The essence of this law was the so-called Aryan paragraph of Article 3, which provided for the retirement of most civil servants of non-Aryan origin. As a rule the racial origin of an official’s forefathers was traced only to the grandparents. The investigation extended to the great grandparents only if the origin of the grandparents was not absolutely certain and especially in cases where an official had a [Page 292] Jewish-sounding name. A grandparent, however, was to be regarded as non-Aryan only if both great grandparents, that is, the great grandfather and great grandmother were non-Aryans.

The interpretation of the Aryan paragraph had given cause for criticism in certain quarters. While some thought that the official interpretation did not go far enough, others felt it went too far. The legal interpretation of the Aryan paragraph varied in the different laws. The law of April 25, 1933, against the overcrowding of schools and universities specified that one of the parents or two grandparents could be non-Aryan, provided the marriage had taken place before the law went into effect. The liberal interpretation of the Aryan paragraph in this case, he explained, was due to the fact that the law in question was a transitory measure. The civil service, on the other hand, could be purged of elements belonging to an alien race only “if the incision were made deeper.” The law of April 7 did not apply to Aryan officials with non-Aryan wives. On the other hand, the law of June 30 provided for the dismissal of civil servants who married a non-Aryan after this date, and furthermore prohibited the appointment to the civil service of persons married to a non-Aryan.

Touching upon the difficulties in connection with the application of the Aryan paragraph in the Protestant Church, Dr. Frick pointed out that the Church Law of December 8, 1933, regulating the status of pastors and Church officials did not contain an Aryan paragraph. (This law is reported to have been revoked—see despatch No. 405 of January 8 transmitted in this pouch85). Dr. Frick admitted that no attempt had been made to apply the Aryan paragraph in the Catholic Church. Certain international agreements, he explained, stood in the way of its application, referring specifically to the German-Polish Agreement of June 11, 1922.86 It is possible that Dr. Frick had in mind the so-called Bernheim case (see despatch No. 2450 of June 1, 193385).

In conclusion Dr. Frick cautioned against an excessive and inordinate application in varying forms of the non-Aryan paragraph to business and industry. The discriminatory laws against the Jews, he said, were prompted by national considerations. Such measures must not be applied at random in certain spheres of German life for which they were not intended. He deplored cases where Jewish employees had been discharged from subordinate positions in department stores though they had fought at the front and therefore did not come under the Aryan paragraph even in the civil service. He declared that there were limits to the application of the Aryan paragraph which must be observed.

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Measures tending to exclude Jews from business and industry have threatened to occasion serious injury to German commerce and Dr. Schmitt, the Minister of Economics, has been energetically combating their indiscriminate application. Dr. Frick’s concluding remarks also seem to be intended to counteract the baneful effects on German business resulting from these discriminatory measures.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Reference to a German-Polish agreement of June 11, 1922, presumably an error.
  4. Not printed.