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

No. 3063

Sir: With reference to the Embassy’s despatch No. 3054 of September 21, 1936,28 enclosing the text of Hitler’s proclamation of September 9 at Nuremberg, I have the honor to submit certain observations upon the new four-year plan now proposed for Germany.

1. Essentials of Hitler’s declaration: The essential stipulation of the new economic plan now proposed is that Germany must in four years be “completely independent from other countries in regard to all materials which can in any way be produced by German skill, German chemistry and German mining.” This plan will, Hitler declared, be carried out with Nazi energy and action, and the necessary regulations have been decreed. Having said this, however, neither in Nuremberg nor subsequently have either the broad outlines or the details of how this program will be put into effect been revealed. No decrees in execution of this proclamation have thus far been issued. In fact, the outstanding characteristic of the proclamation is this lack of explanation of how the obvious gaps in German raw material and foodstuff economy can be bridged.

A close reading of the proclamation will divulge that evidently Hitler himself does not expect that the program will altogether free Germany from the necessity of importing, as he immediately modifies its scope by expressing the belief that through this plan Germany will be able to “increase still further the national production in many spheres” and thereby “reserve the proceeds of exports …29 for the provision of raw materials which will even then be lacking.” These limitations, combined with the present state of uncertainty as to the details of the program, certainly tend to take the edge off the latest [Page 155] Nazi economic sensation which was delivered with the customary party and press packing.

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3. Estimate of present status of plan: To date no further official mention has been made concerning this plan and the press has virtually ceased to comment on it.

With respect to the official attitude, after a certain amount of discreet investigation, I have the distinct impression that this proclamation does not represent the fruit of careful preparatory work by the Economic Ministry or other competent organs, but is rather an improvisation hastily constructed for the Party Congress. This impression is confirmed by the delay in issuing any concrete plan of operation and by the present tendency of the press to ignore the whole matter. The proclamation, however, may have a certain political significance in the drive for colonies as it is the first instance in which German economic difficulties have been so publicly paraded. On the other hand, it may develop into an attempt to exploit German economic and financial weakness along the lines which Dr. Schacht30 has employed so successfully in the past. This would not seem to imply, however, that Germany does not intend to render itself as independent as possible from foreign raw materials and foodstuffs, and on this point the proclamation may be taken at its face value.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Not printed.
  2. Omission indicated in the original despatch.
  3. Hjalmar Schacht, German Minister for Economic Affairs.