Nazi Industrial Machine Faces Breakdown on Boycott Issue
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Nazi Industrial Machine Faces Breakdown on Boycott Issue

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Enlightening views in regard to the economic position of German Jews are contained in the booklet on “Economic Conditions in Germany to June, 1934,” which the Department of Overseas Trade has just issued here. The late J. W. F. Thelwall, commercial counsellor to the British Embassy at Berlin, is the author of the report. It covers 230 pages.

Thelwall prefaced his remarks on the position of the Jews in Germany with the statement that it is very difficult to express any opinion on that matter at the present time. He did say, however, that with very few exceptions, the Jews have disappeared from all positions of importance in the public services, trade and industry, from the liberal professions and the arts.

“Firms owned by Jews have had various fates, as have Jewish employees; there are no rules in these matters, it is a question of public opinion and the immense pressure which it is able to exercise,” the report continues.


“If an ‘Aryan’ staff will not work for a Jewish master, he obviously has no option but to sell the business; if customers refuse to deal with a Jewish manager or commercial traveler he obviously cannot be kept on; nobody can compel the public to buy in a Jewish shop if they do want to; but to say exactly what effect all these occurrences have had on German economy and on the Jews is clearly impossible. All one can venture on stating is that above 60,000 Jews are known to have left Germany, that the Jewish private banks have hardly been interfered with at all, and that Jews in small towns and in the country generally suffer more than those in the big towns.”

The greater portion of the report deals primarily with Germany’s present position as a trade competitor in world markets. In this connection the author states that, if it were only a question of overcoming customs duties, Germany, with the help of the subsidies provided by the “additional” export procedure, would already hold a not unfavorable position on the world’s markets, except in regard to countries with abnormal facilities, like Japan.


The rise in the quantity of Germany’s exports to the United Kingdom during the second half of 1933 and the first quarter of this year, for instance, is explained as showing that a tariff together with currency depreciation in that country did not form an insurmountable obstacle to some improvement. Heavy taxation is an internal factor operating to Germany’s disadvantages, and the report states that a reduction does not seem feasible for some time, in view of the present revival in trade.

Quota and exchange restrictions are regarded in the report as other more formidable external barriers faced by German traders.

“In addition,” the report continues, “Germany has another opposition to contend with, which is due to the idealist conception which she has introduced into commercial matters; it has naturally produced in a number of other countries a counter-movement also based on ideals and sentiments which is detrimental to German foreign trade.

“The times are past when mere cheapness was enough to insure sales; on the contrary, the appearance of low-priced goods is nowadays the signal for the introduction of special safeguards to prevent their entry.


“It is, therefore, no wonder that the restriction and shrinkage of foreign trade is Germany’s most pressing anxiety. It has brought her face to face with serious exchange difficulties, not only as regards her note cover, which control has deprived it of much of its practical importance, but also in relation to her foreign indebtedness and to her supply of new materials; she can help herself to some extent by the conclusion of bi-lateral commercial treaties and by the use of the various forms of cheap marks, but these cannot be more than palliatives, for an effective remedy she is dependent upon others.”

In view of this unfavorable internal situation in Germany, the report asserts that there are particularly two internal dangers which this state of affairs creates. One is that Germany’s large and efficient industrial apparatus running at high speed absolutely needs an outlet beyond her home market if it is not to be choked with its own products. The other obstacle is that if some means of financing raw material imports cannot be found the machine will run down for want of fuel and the whole scheme for the provision of work which has been built up with so much care, energy, devotion and sacrifice will be jeopardized.


Despite the fact that the writer views the prospects for Germany’s foreign trade this year as unfavorable, he adds “it would be a mistake to assume that Germany has become negligible as a competitor. She will make herself felt partly because she will help her exporters with cheap marks on those markets which are of value to her, partly because she will do the same with regard to large and important international orders and partly because of her forward drive in production has caused the latter in many respects to outrun internal purchasing power and manufacturers prefer to sell the excess output very cheaply abroad than to lock up capital in stocks.”

The Manchester Guardian, commenting on Thelwall’s report, contributes the rapid shrinkage of German overseas trade to the world-wide Jewish boycott of German products. trade,” the paper’s editorial declares, “but this shrinkage has been explained in many ways. A potent factor is the Jewish boycott, whether secret or open, an understandable boycott in view of the fact that 60,000 Jews have had to leave the country, while those that remain dare not show themselves in any important positions.”

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