810.20 Defense/1016: Telegram
The Ambassador in Colombia (Braden) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 3—9:58 a.m.]
244. For Under Secretary. My telegram number 242, July 1, 11 p.m. There is developing here not only in conservative church circles but even among Eight Wing Liberals increasing sentiment favoring German victory over Russia. While this is not surprising the development is greater in extent than I anticipated and merits careful consideration. I get reactions from variety of sources among which the following are especially interesting:
1. Minister of War,28 at our regular bi-weekly luncheon yesterday, was tremendously exercised at “peril resulting from widespread conviction throughout American Republics that Hitler, in his crusade against iniquitous Communists, deserves full support.” He declared “Some action or incident must be brought about immediately in order to commit all of these Republics to the British and American cause to insure continued hemisphere solidarity and to present the oppositions in the several countries with a fait accompli from which withdrawal would be impossible.” He pointed to fact that all these nations have suffered for years from Communist activities but so far in no way had ever been injured by the Nazis; that as faith in crusade increases, conservative church elements even though they be minorities would adopt totalitarian methods and seize power becoming vassals of Germany destroying whole inter-American structure and isolating the United States. In fact a rapid German victory over Russia might swing many American Governments directly into the Nazi orbit. He declared there was no time to educate publics on true situation but could make no concrete suggestion as to what should be done although he seemed to flirt with idea that we should enter war calling upon other Republics to join us. (This last thought goes much further than Santos was willing to contemplate in our talk yesterday.) I gathered his alarm which he admitted resulted from many conversations he had had and his political sense was measurably induced by fear developments along these lines would deprive him of office and influence.
While I do not highly rate Minister’s general boast, he is administration’s ablest political contact with the masses.
2. Chief of Staff, a Conservative but genuinely friendly to us, while not so alarmed as the Minister, quoted a number of friends, including Liberals, as now preferring German victory over Russia.
3. Responsible University Professor tells me he has noted increasing “pro-crusade” sentiment in many quarters including students.[Page 14]
4. Enrique Santos, President’s brother, in editorial column, while still strongly supporting Britain and democracies, hopes two contenders may kill off one another or that at least time be given for the United States to prepare. He says Russian victory would be cure worse than the disease and choice is between German injustice and Russian disorder but implies German victory would be preferable since Russian disorder also “contains the greatest of injustices to which humanity has been subjected.”
5. Other reliable informants in various walks of life who are strongly anti-Nazi are becoming alarmed by the increasing number of people they encounter who hope for German victory over Russia The Nazis are, of course, actively fomenting spread of the above described sentiments.
It is too early to foresee how far this trend may grow but thus far it is increasingly disturbing. As a quick remedial measure and to counteract muddled thinking on this subject I respectfully suggest possibility of a speech by President Roosevelt amplifying the fine statement made by Under Secretary on the outbreak of hostilities with Russia,29 particularly stressing anti-Christian (Catholic) acts and ideologies of the Nazis and the other parallels with Communism. Because of his enormous prestige the weight of the President’s words in a widely diffused radio address might stem the tide.