862.002 Hitler, Adolf/116

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

No. 3339

Sir: Confirming the Embassy’s telegrams No. 40 of March 5, 1:00 p.m. and No. 42 of March 6, 1:00 p.m.,62 relative to the German press reaction to the speech which Mayor La Guardia of New York made before the Women’s Division of the American Jewish Congress on March 3, 1937, I have the honor to transmit herewith copies of certain articles63 which represent the leading attacks not only against La Guardia personally as a result of his remarks, but against the United States people as a whole. These articles are taken from Der Angriff, Dr. Goebbels’64 organ through which he undertakes officially [Page 369] the responsibility of “public enlightenment”, and from the Völkischer Beobachter, the medium through which Rosenberg,65 as high priest of “kultur” and Nazi ideology, conveys his conception of human relationships.

No translations of these articles have been made as they are submitted for record purposes only, and, furthermore, summaries thereof have been telegraphed to the Department. Nor would it seem necessary to explain the statements therein made further than to add that it is to be expected that anything Mr. La Guardia might have to say regarding Germany, in view of the background of differences of opinion between him and Nazi policy, would be met by the full force of the German press ire. Indeed, such a clash would also furnish an opportunity not to be overlooked to attack his ancestry and American Jewry in general.

What does appear puzzling and totally unjustified, however, is the direct attack made in conjunction therewith against the American Government, officials, people, and institutions in general. Naturally, the relations between the United States and Nazi Germany have not been a source of complete satisfaction to the latter, and our attitude has periodically been the subject of critical pronouncements both by the press and prominent officials.

The most plausible explanations seem to be that the Nazi press cannot or will not understand that freedom of speech is a constitutional right in the United States, in contrast to the system prevalent under National Socialism, and that any official on any given occasion may not be a national or government spokesman. Such incidents also furnish means for indicating to the German public the alleged great advantages of their own form of government over true democracies. The view suggests itself, and this has been corroborated by German observers, that the stress placed on the La Guardia incident was largely for the purpose of diverting attention from the evil impression made abroad by Ribbentrop’s66 Leipzig Fair speech, particularly the passages on colonies. At the same time it has been noted that this government finds it convenient to assume, in connection with certain displeasing action taken by the British Government in the past, notably rearmament, that the British public is not always in harmony with the thoughts expressed by its own officials. Similarly, even Rosenberg went to great pains to explain that the French Communist Deputy Thorez, in a recent speech at Strasbourg when he attacked Germany, was not speaking for the French people, and it has also been noted that Hitler himself has made it quite clear that the Bolshevik government is to be distinguished from the Russian people, for whom Germany has always had great friendliness and respect.

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In any event and whatever the reason may be for such a totally uncalled for and libelous attack on the United States, one must view with amazement the language with which the attack was implemented. When one considers that this is the official language of a “new-born Germany” and reads in it a revolting contrast between the noble and cultured civilization of Goethe, Kant, Beethoven, and Dürer, with which, according to history at least, National Socialism has had but little to do, and the “gangster civilization” of the United States couched in billingsgate terminology, one may well pause to think. It may be said that at least one branch of science, still, presumably, endowed with the characteristics of culture, is being furthered by the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. That science is philology—even though it may be limited to philology of the invective and the obscene. There would also appear to be reason to believe that in transplanting the word “gentleman” from the original English into other languages, the connotations thereof become varied indeed.

While the Embassy cannot stress too greatly the point of difference between the German press, which is the mouthpiece of the government and represents its views, being dissimilar in presentation style and make-up only, and the American press which represents only sections and individuals, it must be said in all justice that, according to reliable information, the Foreign Office held a conference with the Propaganda Ministry on Saturday, March 6th, with a view to muzzling the Angriff on its American publicity. At any rate, the journalistic organ of the Foreign Office, the Deutsche Diplomatisch–Politische Korrespondenz) refrained from all comment on the incident. Furthermore, there has as yet appeared no press gloating over the regrets expressed by the Department in reply to the protest against the La Guardia speech.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not reprinted.
  3. Joseph Goebbels, German Minister for National Enlightenment and Propaganda.
  4. Alfred Rosenberg, Head of the Foreign Political Office of the Nazi Party.
  5. Joachim von Ribbentrop, Special Ambassador at Large for Adolf Hitler.