Memorandum by the Secretary of State
The Ambassador called by request before sailing for Germany for a vacation. He said he desired first to express his appreciation of the courtesies and kindnesses which he had uniformly received from everybody, and especially the officials of the Government, during his stay here; that he desired to say that German visitors to this country for one purpose or another have all expressed their same experience as to the kindliness and courtesy and friendliness of the American people with whom they came in contact.
I replied that for some generations large numbers of German people came to this country and made a splendid contribution to the task of building the nation,—materially, politically and in all other respects; that they made a uniformly favorable impression, especially on the Anglo-Saxons and similar groups who were such outstanding factors in founding and building the nation. I then remarked that as to the present period, there are, of course, certain things taking place in Germany, especially as they relate to the religious strife, which do not meet with the approval by any means of everybody in this country or of any considerable number of people (in fact of people in the same country, who very radically disagree at times); that also, while more or less regional, the repercussions from the racial strife are noticeable. I added that, of course, I was not referring to the merits of any of these occurrences. I said that the more intelligent and thinking people of this country look upon these racial and religious occurrences more as a matter of temporary abnormality or the outcroppings of highly wrought-up emotions, especially in view of the past history of the German people and of our experience of old in this country; that the people here still prefer to think of his people as the German people of the days of Schiller and Goethe and of the other famous philosophers and teachers and leaders of the past, rather than in terms of what they conceive to be the temporary abnormal situation of the present day; that people here are, therefore, still hoping and believing that the old German type will reassert himself in Germany; and that, in the circumstances, I was expressing in a spirit of frankness my unqualified personal opinion as to the public mind of this country in the foregoing respects.
The Ambassador expressed his gratification for my statement and showed no disposition to take issue,—in fact, one could well have suspected that he appraised the situation in the same manner, although I am not so intimating.
The Ambassador, in commenting, said he realized that we have freedom of the press, but that he had had considerable difficulty in [Page 377] getting his Government to fully appreciate all the phases of the matter. He then said that since the President was elected so overwhelmingly in 1936, with virtually the entire press of America bitterly opposing him, he, the Ambassador, was in a better position to get his views effectively before his Government. I reminded him that no person has been more bitterly attacked by the American press than the President of the United States and that the German Government might well keep this in mind in connection with our law allowing freedom of the press. The Ambassador seemed to have all of these phases clearly in mind, so that I believe he will remedy the recent practices of the German Foreign Office in taking seriously criticism of the Chancellor by individuals and newspapers of this country.
[Here follows paragraph printed as extract, infra.]