American Diplomats in Berlin in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume IX

Shlomo Shafir


American Diplomats in Berlin 1933-1939 and their Attitude to the Nazi Persecution of the Jews

In general in 1933, appeasement marked the policy towards the Nazi’s anti-Jewish policies. However, US Consul General George Messersmith warned that Hitler and his cronies did have the power to carry out persecutions and to build a Germany without Jews. He also foresaw war. Yet, Messersmith objected to the admission of Jewish refugees into the USA. The appointment of William Dodd, a Southern liberal, as ambassador in Berlin was greeted enthusiastically by American Jews. Roosevelt’s advice to Dodd regarding the Jewish question was rather vague. Anti-Jewish sentiments in the USA were not uncommon. Dodd failed in his efforts to rein in the Nazi hate campaign. The Blood Purge of July 1, 1934, convinced Dodd of the criminal character of the Nazi regime. In 1937 Dodd cautioned Washington against adopting the growing appeasement policies of England and France and tried to influence the US government to assume a stronger anti-Nazi policy. Hugh Wilson, who replaced Dodd in 1938, unlike his predecessor, had a conciliatory attitude to Nazi Germany. He regarded the Jewish question as the main stumbling block to improving American–German relations. In November 1938, Wilson was relieved of his post and Prentiss Gilbert became chargé d’affaire. Truman Smith, the American military attaché, praised the Nazi ideology and had little sympathy for the Jews. It appears that dispatches from Berlin to Washington had limited impact and American diplomats on the spot did not engender initiatives for mass rescue.

Products specifications
Year 1973
Catalog No. 197303
Format Electronic article in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume IX, pp. 71-104, Edited by Livia Rothkirchen
Publisher Yad Vashem