862.00/3584: Telegram

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

99. The election yesterday resulted in a preliminary estimate, which will not be varied substantially, of 98.79 percent for Hitler, et cetera, [Page 141] out of 98.95 percent participation. There were 45,500,000 odd votes cast of which 45 odd million for Hitler leaving opposition and invalid votes combined of an odd 500,000 votes. The corresponding percentages for the previous votings were 90 percent out of 96.3 in 1933 and 89.15 percent out of 95.71 in 1934. Yesterday’s figures are of course not representative of national feeling in the sense of a free election with an “open” opposition. In Germany there was not even an opposition ticket on the ballot. The so-called election was therefore merely a pledge from which it took courage to abstain let alone to vote against. Furthermore, the subject chosen was one which made it tragically difficult for even those hostile to the regime to oppose. For example, even the Catholic Church authorities counselled voting in the affirmative with certain rather pathetic mental reservations. The only organized opposition of which we have heard was that of the Communists. It is reliably reported that efforts have been made during the past week to distribute anti-Government leaflets and to put up anti-Government posters. We understand there have been some two hundred arrests of Communists in Berlin in this connection.

Without going into the merits of the case or trying to establish the real attitude of the country toward the regime or in favor of Hitler’s action on March 7, the net of it is that this election gives Hitler at least the appearance of complete support for his present policy and represents a record vote in his favor and a correspondingly strong springboard for his next international move tomorrow, Tuesday.4

There is still no definite information on this although we are reliably informed that the question of an agreement not to fortify the Rhineland zone for a brief definitive period, say for six months, is being seriously considered. It is becoming increasingly evident that this is the real crux of the situation both from the near and long term view (see my 85 of March 18, 8 p.m.5).

Repeated to London, Paris, Rome, Geneva.

  1. On March 31, 1936, Germany offered a 19-point peace plan for political problems to be followed by a conference on disarmament and economic problems. For text, see British Cmd. 5175, Miscellaneous No. 6 (1936): Correspondence With the German Government Regarding the German Proposals for an European Settlement, March 24–May 6, 1936, p. 4.
  2. Not printed.