462.11L5232/559: Telegram

The Chargé in Germany ( Mayer ) to the Secretary of State

135. My 115, April 21, 5 p.m. first paragraph.62 No word was received from Goering. Stallforth then communicated with me that he would arrange for Ribbentrop63 to call. As he failed to do so, I began to discount the entire idea. To my surprise Goering telephoned me personally yesterday afternoon saying he would like to see me and asked if I could come to his house this morning. I agreed to do so, assuming it was in reference to the Mixed Claims case, and had a long conversation. The Mixed Claims case was mentioned but not pursued. No reference to Stallforth although the latter knew of the telephone conversation yesterday saying it was by his arrangement. He also knew of my meeting with Goering today and said that the latter had lunched with Hitler afterwards when the meeting was discussed. My impression is that while Stallforth is undoubtedly concerned with the matter it had grown beyond the Mixed Claims aspect into the more comprehensive ideas summarized below:

Minister-President Goering began by saying that he was speaking entirely unofficially and referred to his new duties in regard to “economic matters” (see our telegram No. 120, April 28, 1 p.m.64 and pursuant cablegrams and despatch); he said that these new important duties led him at once to think of American-German relations which frankly he was sorry to say were not as they once were and should be. He had been told that this was due to many reasons. He wanted very much that all these differences should be liquidated. Being a frank sort of person he felt that the first thing to determine was this: did the United States wish to improve its relations with Germany and try [Page 261] and find out if there were not ways and means of increasing the trade between the two countries and rendering their relationship more satisfactory? If the answer were in the negative then that was that and there was no use bothering further about it. If, however, the answer was in the affirmative he hoped the United States would designate some one who could unofficially and without committing the Government thresh out the whole situation with a similar representative of his—he himself taking part as the occasion would warrant.

The Minister-President then said he wanted to take advantage of this personal conversation to ask if I would tell him quite frankly what I felt were the real difficulties between the two countries. I replied entirely unofficially and in the same candid manner in which he had spoken that I felt there were two general reasons as far as I was aware. The first was what might be termed psychological and the second practical. The psychological reason principally was the treatment of the Jews in Germany.65 I spoke to him plainly and at some length on this subject explaining that while this was a matter entirely within the province of Germany to decide it had created an extremely bad impression in America and its influence on German-American relations had been and was tremendous. Secondly, regarding the practical reason there was much dissatisfaction in the United States with the way debt questions, both public and private, had been handled by Germany and the discrimination against us with respect to trade.66 I took Goering at his word and was very frank. I must say that he received my statements in good part and showed no resentment, but quite the opposite.

Regarding the psychological question he made the classic defense but without any particular fervor. Regarding the practical reason he said that was exactly what he wanted to grapple with and about which he had initiated our conversation in the sense of the suggestion he had made to come to grips with this business and settle it to the mutual advantage of our two countries if we were interested in the improvement of American-German relations.

The conversation ended by Goering expressing the hope that I would communicate his ideas to the appropriate quarter, and come directly to him, personally, on receiving a reply, that he was available for further conversation at any time.

I have had a feeling for some time that the German Government has become increasingly desirous of getting back to a better status with us. They have gone out of their way, it seemed to me, to be helpful at the Foreign Office and only this morning when I discussed the Spiegelberg case in compliance with the Department’s instruction 581 [Page 262] of April 13, 1936,67 Davidsen68 was surprisingly receptive. Furthermore, I have the impression that the clearing agreement method of trade is beginning to exhaust its possibilities and more normal ideas are gaining ground in line with your point of view as developed in your trade agreements. Just as Hitler appeared to wish, among other things, to escape from political isolation in his proposals on March 769 there are these signs that he and his advisers may wish to break up the economic and financial jam as far as Germany is concerned. Goering certainly gave me the impression of great seriousness in the matter under discussion and that he intended to use the outstanding powers given him in a broad and constructive fashion.

  1. Telegram not printed; it reported that Frederico Stallforth (a representative of a group of claimants against Germany) had told the American Chargé that Hitler had turned the matter of sabotage claims over to Goering (Minister President of Prussia) and that the German Foreign Office was not involved (462.11L5232/558).
  2. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Special Ambassador at Large for Adolf Hitler.
  3. Not printed; it reported that Goering had been entrusted with the investigation and decreeing of all necessary measures concerning raw materials and foreign exchange (862.5151/1673).
  4. For correspondence regarding the persecution of Jews, see pp. 192 ff.
  5. See pp. 210 ff.
  6. Post, p. 286.
  7. Hermann Davidsen, Director of Commercial Policy Section No. 9 of the German Foreign Office.
  8. For correspondence regarding the Hitler speech of March 7 and reoccupation of the Rhineland, see vol. i, pp. 180 ff.