811.4061 Road Back/4
Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Western European Affairs (Dunn)
At my request the Counselor of the German Embassy, Dr. Hans Thomsen, came in this morning. I showed Dr. Thomsen the original [Page 393] of a letter which had been sent by the German Consul in Los Angeles, Mr. George Gyesling, to about sixty members of the cast of “The Road Back” now being made in Hollywood. This letter of the German Consul, which he states is written under the direction of the German Government, calls the attention of the individual actors in the cast to the German law which states that any film in which an actor has participated who has previously taken part in a film which has been declared inimical to German interests, may not be granted a permit for exhibition in Germany.
I told Dr. Thomsen that this matter had been brought to our attention, that I had discussed it with the Secretary and with Mr. Hackworth2 and Mr. Ralph Hill3 and that I had been directed to call the matter to the attention of the Embassy here.
I asked Dr. Thomsen whether it was true that the Consul in Los Angeles was acting under the direction of the German Government in writing this letter to the individual actors of the cast. He said that that was true. I then told Dr. Thomsen that I was sure he would agree in our opinion that the writing of such a letter to individuals in this country was to say the least highly inadvisable and furthermore, in my own opinion, it was an activity which we decidedly did not approve. The question of the availability of the film for admission into Germany was a matter entirely between the German Government and the film producing company. As far as the actors were concerned, if the Consul were asked for any information with regard to their participation in the film or the effect such part might have upon any possible future career in Germany, it was perfectly legitimate for a foreign Consul to give advice to such inquirers with regard to the laws obtaining in his own country. I went on to say, however, that the addressing of letters to individual actors with regard to activities those Americans were carrying on in this country and which had nothing whatever to do with nor any connection with Germany as far as their present activities are concerned was entirely uncalled for and was not within the proper functions of a foreign consular officer.
Dr. Thomsen said that he himself, when he saw the instructions of his Government along these lines, had questioned the correctness of such procedure and had in his own mind considered the effect of what a similar action by American Consuls in Germany would be. He then brought up the matter of what our Customs Inspectors and Treasury representatives carry on in foreign countries. I immediately pointed [Page 394] out that this was not a similar case as the activities of the Customs and Treasury investigators with regard to cost investigations in foreign countries were never carried on without the consent of the Government of the country in which they are operating. He admitted this to be the case and said that he thought it would be well to refer the whole matter to Berlin and obtain the attitude of his Government with regard to such activities. I said that this was exactly what we wanted done and that we would consider the whole matter to have been discussed only through this informal approach, which I had made to the Counselor here, and that until we had heard further from him we would take the position that we are looking into the matter and that my conversation with him was not considered to be a protest but was rather to be considered as calling the attention of the Embassy to the Consul’s activities and desiring to have an informal discussion of the matter in the hope that we might avoid any necessity for taking it up in a more formal manner.
He asked if it could be understood therefore that this would not be considered a protest for the moment and that if the Secretary were asked anything about the matter in the meantime, until he had been able to report further to me, that the Secretary might say that the Department was looking into the matter of these letters which had been called to its attention. I said that I felt sure the Secretary would be glad to conform to that explanation of the part the Department had taken in the situation up to the present.