WASHINGTON (May. 2)
Severance of diplomatic relations with Germany and other reprisals were advocated on the House floor by Hamilton Fish (Rep., N.Y.) in the event property of American Jews is seized by the Nazi Government, as foreshadowed in a decree last week by Marshall Hermann Goering ordering all Jews to register property in excess of 5,000 marks.
Speaking last Thursday on the Goering decree, Mr. Fish, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, declared:
“Let me point out that if the program of Field Marshal Goering is carried out it will raise a very serious issue and result in very serious circumstances. We as a nation cannot afford to remain silent. The only way we have of protesting, if the German Government ignores the rights of American citizens to own property or money, is either to enter into some method of reprisal, to stop trade with Germany, or to seize some of her property in this country. In the last analysis it would be proper if the German Government proceeds to put its program into effect to withdraw diplomatic relations and recall our Ambassador.
“I do not believe Germany will proceed with the suggestions made yesterday by Mr. Goering, but I am serving notice as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of this House that if the German Government — and I repeat we are not concerned with the form of the German Government — seizes the property of any American citizen, be he Jews or Gentile, American born or naturalized, and takes it away from him, then the Government of the United States has a definite duty to use its influence and powers to protect the property of its citizens. That is what we legislate about year in and year out, that is why we appropriate these huge sums of money for our Navy and our Army, and particularly for our Diplomatic Corps and our Foreign Service.”
Asserting that the State Department should notify the German Government that confiscation of its nationals’ property would be “immediately resented,” Mr. Fish added:
“The State Department should make it very clear that we propose to uphold the traditional American policy of protecting the rights, the liberties, and the property of our citizens everywhere in the world. Otherwise our procedure in the Congress is just a mockery and a farce when we appropriate millions upon millions of dollars for our Navy, our Army, our Air Corps, and our Diplomatic Service if we do not propose to protect the rights of our citizens to trade and to own property. I make this statement now because believe a little plain talking will stop a very situation from developing. After the horse is stolen it does not make any difference what we do about locking the barn door. A firm protest now might well solve the situation and save us from trouble and grave difficulty in the future.”
Asked by Congressman Biermann whether he would go to the extreme of advocating war with Germany over the issue, Mr. Fish replied in the negative, asserting:
“We cannot go over there and fight them nor do we want to. The only thing we can do is either to seize their property over here, refuse to trade with them, or withdraw our Ambassador. I would not hesitate for one minute, if they proceed with any such drastic course and insist on seizing the property of our citizens and actually do it, not threaten to do it, to withdraw or Ambassador and our entire diplomatic force from Germany. The Nazi Government, if it violates international law by the confiscation of property of America citizens, ought to be outlawed.”
The State Department last week instructed Ambassador Hugh Wilson to ascertain from the Berlin Government how American nationals would be affected by the Goering decree.