American Federation of Labor Convention Receives Council Report Urging Nazi Boycott
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American Federation of Labor Convention Receives Council Report Urging Nazi Boycott

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The American Federation of Labor today had under consideration a recomendation of the Executive Council that a boycott against German-made goods and German services be initiated as protest against “the repressive policies of persecution of the Jewish people.”

The recommendation was made at a meeting held preliminary to the federation’s annual convention opening in the Hotel Willard today. The federation membership exceeds 4,000,000.

In a striking statement contained in the annual report submitted to the convention, the plight of the Jew in Germany was reviewed along with the suppression of the labor movement. “Whatever the cause of the Hitler revolution,” it declared, “there can be no justification for the brutality and the racial conflict interjected in the situation.”


There is a division of opinion on the question as to whether the federation is to condemn German products solely or to boycott the manufactured goods of other nations, including Italy, Russia and Japan as well, where organized labor has in general been stifled. A great deal of support is anticipated for the resolution condemning German anti-Jewish persecutions and banning German products. Regardless of whether the four nations are to be included in the boycott the federation is known to be wholly in sympathy with the plight of the German Jew and is expected to enunciate its sympathy in no uncertain terms.

William Green, Federation president, is reported to be optimistic regarding the action the body will take on the recommendation. He indicated that a resolution for action on the German question will be introduced within the next few days and will be referred to a committee for consideration. Final action will take place, he said, during the second week of the convention.

“American labor may soon decide to join in the boycott movement, to which it has hitherto remained aloof,” Mr. Green said in a recent statement. “As the last conference of the International Federation of Trade Unions declared in voting for a boycott policy, ‘Extraordinary dangers created by the German Nazi regime call for extraordinary measures’. American labor may take the same view.”

Mr. Green echoed his firm conviction that a boycott “is the only thing that will bring home to the German tyrants the abhorrence in which their rule is held by the rest of the world.”

The recommendation of the Executive Council under consideration by the convention, follows:

“The revolution in Germany, resulting from the designation of Adolf Hitler as chancellor, has meant the overthrow of the Weimar constitution (the Republic) and the inauguration of the Third Reich. Rallying to his support the discontent and unrest in all groups, Hitler’s regime turned upon the Social Democratic Party and the trade unions which accepted the Versailles Treaty because it afforded opportunity for building up democratic institutions. Many trade unionists were active in the Social Democratic Party which had been responsible for the government. The Nazi Government, therefore, struck directly at trade union officials and machinery in order to establish its power. First, methods of communications within the unions were suppressed or intercepted, and this was followed by the arrest and imprisonment of executives and leaders. Terror and brutality followed, together with the inauguration of a campaign of Jewish persecution unparalleled in modern history.


“The result has been the complete destruction of what was one of the largest and most aggressive national labor organizations in the world. Such leaders as Leipart, Grassmann, Husemann, Jochade, and many others well known to workers in the United States, have been brutally treated and kept under arrest. We wish to express the profound regret and indignation which the workers of this country feel at such ruthless treatment of German labor and union organizations. Whatever the cause of the Hitler revolution, there can be no justification for the brutality and the racial conflict interjected into the situation. Force cannot bring about a lasting constructive readjustment of difficulties.

“The utter destruction of the independent trade union movement of Germany by those now in control of the German government has been equalled only by the ruthless persecution of Germany’s Jewish population. Persecution of this kind arouses intense feeling among the membership of organized labor. Our great movement rests upon the broad principle of racial tolerance and of no discrimination because of creed or nationality. Our great organized labor movement is engaged in the noble work of blending into a common brotherhood all working people, without regard to creed, color or nationality. We abhor racial persecution and we protest vigorously against the persecution of the Jewish people of Germany.


“Owing to the fact that those who are administering the government of Germany and who are shaping its destinies are pursuing a ruthless campaign of persecution against the Jews of Germany, and because the Hitler government refused to heed or respect the protests of the people in all nations throughout the world, the Executive Council recommends that the American Federation of Labor join with other public-spiritted organizations in our own country in officially adopting a boycott against German-made goods and German service, this boycott to continue until the German government recognizes the right of the working people of Germany to organize into bona fide, independent trade unions of their own choosing, and until Germany ceases its repressive policy of persecution of Jewish people. We extend to fellow workers and friends our sincere sympathy at their great loss through the destruction of the labor movement. We have great faith in the constructive abilities of our German fellow-workers and high regard and affection for their worthy qualities. We pledge them whatever assistance lies within our power. We emphatically protest against the action of the Hitler government in seizing control of unions of German workers and maltreating the officials chosen by the workers and in confiscating the funds and property of the unions.”

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