811.00 Nazi/345: Telegram
The Chargé in Germany (Gilbert) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 28—4:24 p.m.]
86. Embassy’s despatch 3718, October 28, 1937.33 Due to my temporary indisposition a member of the Embassy staff called at the Foreign Office at the request of Dr. Freytag, Chief of the American Section.
Dr. Freytag referred to his conversation with me reported in my despatch 3876 of February 14, 193833 and said that the German Government in the interests of good relations with the United States had decided to take effective measures to insure that there would be no relations of any kind between the German Government, its officials or its citizens in the United States and the America Deutscher Volksbund or any similar German-American organization.
He said that to that end the German Government would make public here tomorrow the following regulation which he hoped would receive due publicity and dispel any belief that the German Government [Page 462]would encourage in any way any organization affecting the domestic political affairs of the United States or allow its citizens abroad to participate in such organizations or affairs.
“By reason of the various requests from the citizens of the German Reich in the United States it is reasserted that German citizens may not become members of the America Deutscher Volksbund nor of any substitute organization. German citizens who by reason of their lack of knowledge of this regulation have become members of the America Deutscher Volksbund or of the ‘prospective citizens league’ must terminate their membership status immediately”.
Freytag stated that Dieckhoff34 is today calling upon Secretary Hull to communicate officially the attitude of the German Government toward the America Deutscher Volksbund and substitute organizations. He stated that the phrase “substitute organizations” (Ersatz-organisationen) was inserted to make sure that the bund would not seek to retain the support of German citizens which he indicated was necessary for its success by organizing under another name. He pointed out that the bund was the successor to the “Friends of the New Germany” which had been dissolved because a previous regulation had forbidden German citizens from becoming members thereof.
In addition to the foregoing regulation Freytag said that the following confidential instructions will be issued.
- An instruction to all German Consulates in the United States to see that German citizens do not become members of the Bund or of any substitute organization and authorizing the Consulates to take up the passports of any German citizens violating this regulation.
- An instruction recalling to all German officials and members of the National Socialist Party in the United States that they must have no relations with the Bund or affiliated organizations.
- An instruction to the German Embassy in Washington to obtain from the Bund the discontinuance of the use of the German flag and emblems or titles of its officers or members which copy or recall National Socialist insignia or forms of organizations.
Freytag said that the confidential instructions above summarized will not be made known to the press.
While the Embassy was informed that Dieckhoff is making a similar communication it was deemed advisable to repeat in detail Freytag’s statements in order that the Secretary may have full information with which to reply to any inquiries that may arise in press conference tomorrow.
The regulation with regard to the Bund is the result of persistent efforts of certain members of the Foreign Office against considerable opposition hence any word of gratification which you might publicly express would be appreciated.[Page 463]
Freytag said that the Foreign Office was doing its utmost and he thought successfully to diminish German press criticism of the United States and inquired whether the Embassy had not noted an “improvement” in that respect. The reply was that a somewhat milder editorial tone had been detected in comment on the United States. Dr. Freytag said that frankly it was difficult to restrain the “natural” impulse of German editors to reply vigorously to foreign criticism but that the Foreign Office was endeavoring unremittingly to “improve” German press treatment of the United States and hoped that a similar attitude toward Germany might develop in the American press. He concluded by saying that he had been much disturbed upon reading what he described as a most unfair description of the Chancellor in an article by S. H. Roberts in the February Harper’s. He referred with some resentment to the circumstance that Roberts had been given facilities and an interview with the Chancellor during his recent visit to Germany. Incidentally it is understood that Roberts is an Australian.