The Chargé in Germany (Geist) to the Secretary of State

No. 615

Sir: I have the honor to enclose an English translation50a of a decree promulgated in Reichsgesetzblatt, Part I, No. 32, of February 22, 1939, requiring German Jews to surrender to the appropriate German authorities all objects of gold, platinum or silver in their possession, as well as precious stones and pearls. A time limit of two weeks from the date of promulgation of the decree, or until March 7, is set for the surrender of these objects.

It will be noted that Jews of foreign nationality are specifically exempted from the application of the decree.

Reference is made to the Decree of December 3, 1938, Governing the Use of Jewish Property (see Embassy’s despatch No. 486 of December [Page 584] 7, 193851), Section 14 of which forbade Jews to acquire such articles, as well as to pawn them or sell them privately. The present decree supplements these provisions drastically by prohibiting Jews from even keeping objects of this nature which they still possess. From the point of view of the property that Jews may take with them upon emigrating, the latest decree is of perhaps little practical effect inasmuch as emigrating Jews have for some time been strictly forbidden to take possessions of this kind out of the country.

The decree states that the Minister of Economics will issue regulations concerning the assessment of the objects surrendered and the indemnity to be paid for them. Such details of this procedure as become known will be reported later as opportunity is afforded. According to a Jewish informant, there are only two State offices in Berlin where valuables may be surrendered, and for the moment they are greatly crowded. After leaving his name and address at one of these offices, this particular person was told that he would be instructed to bring his valuables later for surrender. It does not appear that any arrangements have yet been made for assessing the value of the objects which have so far been accepted by these offices.

Respectfully yours,

Raymond H. Geist
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed, but see telegram No. 698, December 6, 1938, 6 p.m., from the Chargé in Germany, Foreign Relations, 1938, vol. ii, p. 408.