The Consul at Berlin (Geist) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 9.]
Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that I have received reliable information as to the present situation of the Jews in Germany, which appears for the present in the large cities to be fairly satisfactory. The business of Jewish merchants in Berlin and other large centers of Germany is in a satisfactory position. In the smaller towns, however, the anti-Jewish boycott is going on strongly. In numerous towns in Franconia and Hessen the local National Socialist papers have adopted the plan of stationing photographers in front of Jewish stores and by this means establishing the identity of persons frequenting Jewish establishments to make their purchases. In some towns, lists of Jewish stores are being published in the local press and citizens are warned not to enter the stores. Recently public pillories have been set up in certain towns, upon which the names of non-Jews who buy in Jewish stores, or patronize Jewish doctors, are [Page 298] posted. It is reported, however, that the Catholic population in many of these places is openly making purchases from Jewish stores in a veritable spirit of bravado.
On the other hand, in rural centers the anti-Jewish propaganda is beginning to meet with opposition. Farmers allege that the shortage of potatoes and other difficulties are due to the fact that they have not been permitted to deal with Jews. While this more tolerant spirit which is largely prompted by self-interest is developing among the farmers, local officials, aided by the local press, continue to promote anti-Semitic propaganda.
The situation of Jewish professional men who have been ousted from their professions through application of the so-called “Aryan Paragraph” I am informed is growing desperate. Since the application of the law, many of these persons have spent their savings and for the most part are unable to find work or employment of any sort. Many are seeking means to migrate to other countries. Others are making desperate efforts to readjust themselves, taking up the work of artisans, or even accepting manual labor. It is now estimated, semi-officially, that through the application of the Aryan paragraph about 17,000 Jews have been ejected from their positions. These estimates are separated into nine categories as follows:
- 3,000 Jews employed in Government and municipal offices;
- 243 Jewish employees in Post and Telegraph system;
- 2,000 Jewish lawyers;
- 2,000 assistants to Jewish lawyers (“Referendare” and “Assessors”);
- 1,200 Jewish notaries;
- 1,200 Jewish editors and newspapermen;
- 2,000 Jewish artists, including 450 singers and several hundred stage-managers;
- 4,500 Jewish doctors who were deprived of right to work for Krankenkassen;
- 800 Jewish professors and high-school teachers.
Most of the 17,000 Jews affected, with their families, are now depending on social relief. Jewish doctors who have been ousted from the official sick-relief services, may still conduct private practices; but their practices have dwindled into almost nothing due to the fact that non-Jewish officials and employees are warned that neither they nor their families are allowed to patronize Jewish doctors. In many cases Jewish doctors have been compelled to give up their offices, being unable to pay the rent.
From the purely political side, it is the feeling here that the German Government wishes for the time being to maintain an armistice with respect to the Jewish question, owing to the pressure of other problems. There is, however, a wide-spread feeling among the Jews [Page 299] that the late autumn and early winter months, when it is expected that there will be a food shortage in Germany, will produce unhappy events for the German Jews. It is feared that anti-Semitic outbreaks may occur in the provinces. Influential Jews are in fact endeavoring to take precautionary measures to protect the Jews in Hessen and Franconia, where anti-Semitism still severely rages. Jewish residents in those parts are being advised to emigrate to larger neighboring centers, especially where Reichswehr troops are quartered. The leaders of the Jewish communities in many places are urging Jewish residents to acquire automobiles or trucks so that in case of emergency they may depart speedily from towns in which attacks may occur.
Leaders in Jewish circles fear the possible launching of pogroms here and there on account of the lack of food, which agitators will blame upon the Jews. They believe also, that if the situation becomes critical, trials will be staged after the fashion of the Russians, that is, Jews will be accused of sabotage and of being responsible for the boycott against Germany. I am informed that these fears partially arise from insinuations made by the Propaganda Minister himself, who has recently sent for important Jewish personages, informing them that if they do not use their influence to stop the boycott abroad against German goods, the Government will not be responsible for what might happen in the country, directly insinuating that pogroms might take place. This attitude of the Propaganda Minister, Dr. Goebbels, is somewhat supported by an article which appeared this last week in the Fredericus which is violently anti-Jewish. This article definitely threatened with pogroms. At the request of the Minister of Propaganda, two influential Jews were sent from the Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Berlin to have an interview. The Propaganda Minister directly demanded that a committee of leading Jews in Berlin inform the world in general that the Jews in Germany are entirely unmolested and that the boycott should cease. The committee informed that if they made such a statement the world would not believe them and would allege that the statement was made under duress. The committee on the other hand suggested that all anti-Semitic propaganda in Germany cease for three months and that the Jews be left entirely alone to conduct their trade and enterprise without molestation. The committee asserted that if this policy were adopted, it would soon be known in the outside world and favorable results would ensue. The negotiations were broken off without either side yielding to the other.
Leading Jews in Germany are fearful of political or economic disasters during the coming months, as they feel sure that the National Socialist press will endeavor to place the blame on the Jews.[Page 300]
Nevertheless it is being noted that anti-Semitism is really becoming unpopular among the masses. The Catholics are demonstrating this attitude quite openly. In many places the opinion can be publicly heard on the markets that if the Government would only permit the Jews to trade freely, there would be better times and no shortage of potatoes or other foodstuffs. Leaders among the Jews, however, have no confidence in the intention of the Government and believe it will use every opportunity to keep the Jewish question to the fore.