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

No. 2143

Sir: With reference to the Embassy’s despatch No. 2106 of July 1, 1935, and despatch No. 2129 of July 8, 1935, I have the honor to report that the Nazi agitation against the student corporations, having passed through an acute phase, has now momentarily subsided upon a somewhat calmer note.

Before this took place, however, Herr Derichsweiler, the head of the National Socialist Student League, came forth with another threat in the form of a proclamation that the opportunity offered the corporations to appoint delegates to undergo training in the Nazi Student Leagued camps (see page 3 of the despatch first referred to) would be “a last chance” for cooperation. Student League members would be required to resign from the corporations which had not availed themselves of this offer by July 10, and the refractory groups which thus chose to make themselves “tools of the reaction,” would be treated on the basis of “who is not with me is against me.”

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The National Socialist Landpost, the paper of the Reich Food Estate, rejoiced in the suppression of a “certain polite Heidelberg student group (the Saxo-Borussia corps) which had first gained prominence by its refusal to expel Jews and half-Jews from its graduate association.” Commenting on the recent incidents at Heidelberg, the Landpost observed: “God knows these people have no place in the German secondary schools but belong rather in certain state educational institutions (concentration camps) where under the supervision of black-coated teachers (evidently the S. S. guard) such ‘gentlemen’ acquire a taste for manly labor, and learn the difference between feudal snobbism and real nobility, and the difference between loutish manners and scholarship.” Then by a device particularly illustrative of the manner in which such news is conveyed to the public, the Landpost reported its understanding that the “necessary measures” had already been taken, thus seemingly confirming a report in the foreign press that five of the offending Saxo-Borussians had been despatched to concentration camps.

During this period the Nazi offensive in the Universities was carried a step further by a decree issued by Minister of Education Rust ordering that admission to the “studenthoods” (the officially recognized student bodies) shall be governed by the same conditions as Party membership, meaning that the persons concerned must, if the demand is made, be able to trace Aryan descent back to the year 1800; After October 1, 1936, it will no longer be sufficient to be able to prove the Aryan descent of grandparents alone.

An intimation, however, that restraining elements were exercising their influence was presented in the non-Nazi-owned Berlin papers, the Boersen-Zeitung and the Tageblatt. At the height of the agitation the former paper put forth a discreet defense, pleading that the scandalous behaviour of four or five Saxo-Borussians did not warrant a sweeping condemnation of the corporations among which were hundreds of thousands of good National Socialists, both young and old. Mentioning the name of Dr. Lammers, the State Secretary of the Reich Chancellory, who, as previously reported, has stood as the corporations’ bulwark against earlier Nazi attacks, the paper stated that the mere fact that such a man as he was national corps leader was surely sufficient proof of their soundness and value to National Socialism. In much the same vein the Tageblatt invoked the corporations’ manly training and their contributions to German life, and expressed the hope that a closer cooperation between them and National Socialist student groups would be possible.

The number of corporations, as partially reported in the daily press, which, by the set date of July 10, had declared their willingness to send representatives to be schooled in the Nazi student camps, turned out to be an almost complete fiasco. Out of 105 corporations in the [Page 382] Cologne-Aachen district, for instance, only 25 had accepted the training scheme. While some of the Burschensehaften had acceded to the plan the corps, the Landsmannschaften and the C. V., the Catholic group, had all rejected it. The papers stated, moreover, that the Community of Student Associations had addressed an instruction to its affiliated members to disregard the proposals of the Nazi Student League.

These results evidently demonstrate that the corporations feel more sure of their ground than earlier information as reported in the Embassy’s despatch No. 2106 seemed to indicate. Acknowledgment of their apparent strength was made in a subsequent announcement that the time limit for acceptance of the Nazi Student League’s scheme would be extended. The papers openly proclaimed Dr. Lammers’ role in the affair by reporting that the Führer had himself issued this order in accordance with a suggestion from Dr. Lammers which the Student League had previously rejected. At the date of writing notice has been given that the extended time limit has been fixed for July 25. That the radical Nazi youth are still bent, however, on carrying their battle against the corporations to the limit may be seen from a cartoon, enclosed herewith,33 which accompanied a diatribe published in the paper of the Hitler Youth; the picture shows the Nazi broom sweeping away a batch of scarred, asparagus-eating students who are quoted as saying, “I don’t see why—after all, we were so national …”34

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Not reproduced.
  2. Omission indicated in the original.