Important action of the United States Government regarding the Jewish situation in Germany, was taken today as a result of representations made to the State Department and other important officials by Dr. Stephen S. Wise and Bernard Deutsch, accompanied by Max Rhoade, Attorney and Washington representative on behalf of the American Jewish Congress at a conference held this afternoon, and which was arranged by Senator Robert F. Wagner with Under-secretary of State Phillips.
Following the conference with the Under-secretary, the State Department issued the following official communique to the press:
“The Department has informed the American Embassy at Berlin of the press reports of mistreatment of Jews in Germany. The Department also informed the Embassy of the deep concern these reports are causing in this country. The Department has instructed the Embassy to make, in collaboration with the Consuls, a complete report on the situation.”
It is reliably understood that no action had been taken by the Department prior to today’s conference, as voluntary reports from Ambassador Sackett and the American Consulates indicated that they were already doing all within their power.
The conference was held with Undersecretary Phillips, who is next in official rank to Secretary of State Hull, who was occupied at a Cabinet meeting.
The conference was arranged by Senator Wagner, who was also to attend, but was prevented from doing so by an emergency meeting of the Banking and Currency Committee regarding the New York bank situation.
Following the conference, which was a lengthy one, and which reviewed the entice situation, Dr. Wise issued the following statement regarding the representations made on behalf of the American Jewish Congress to Undersecretary of State Phillips.
“We tried to present the situation that obtains today in Germany with respect to its Jewish people. The facts seem incontrovertible. We feel that our Government ought to inform itself fully with regard to the facts. We think it will not be long before our Government will have authentic data with respect to the indignities and outrages on the part of the Hitler Government against the Jews in Germany.
“We take it for granted that while the information may come through our representatives in Germany, the Embassy will not rely on official sources which can hardly be expected to be self-incriminatory. In addition, we are supplying the State Department with information in our possession.
“We made clear to the Department that the leading figures in the intellectual, the literary, and the artistic world of Germany are in hiding; men like Dr. Theodor Wolff, Editor of the “Berliner Tageblatt”; Dr. Georg Bernhard, Editor of the “Vossische Zeitung”; Max Reinhardt, and Alfred Kerr.
“We called to the attention of the State Department the pressure under which we have been to give opportunity for the expression of the deep indignation of American Jewry, a great part of which is included within the American Jewish Congress. I cannot remember Jewry being so wrought up against anything happening to American Jews as the sudden reversion on the part of a great and cultured and liberty-loving people to practices which may mildly be characterized as mediaeval.
“It isn’t Jews alone who feel a sense of indignation and resentment. I have been in touch with some of the most distinguished figures in the Christian life and leadership in America, and within a few days they will express their sympathy with us and American Jewry. Apart from the American people’s deep interest in every problem of human relations, we were not the first to have called to the attention of the State Department that at this moment the Government of Germany is doing everything possible in order to make the way of the Administration difficult in dealing with problems of common German-American concern.”
Earlier in the day, Dr. Wise made an indictment and protest against Hitler outrages in Congress itself, before the House Immigration Committee, at the invitation of Chairman Dickstein. The Committee was assembled for its first meeting of the present session. Congressman Dickstein had announced to the Committee that he was considering introducing a resolution to admit free of the quota restrictions all German Jews related to American citizens fleeing from persecution in Germany. Dr. Wise said he was opposed to such a bill because the Hitler Government must understand that the Jewish situation in Germany must be solved in that country and not by asking for special amendments to American immigration laws. However, he informed the Committee that without reference to the German situation, but purely with respect to the general immigration restrictions, he heartily favored and urged the Committee “as part of President Roosevelt’s new deal” to take necessary steps for revoking ex-President Hoover’s Executive order to American Consulates drastically cutting down issuance of visas to all immigrants. Congressman Dickstein adopted Dr. Wise’s suggestion and later introduced in the house a bill in conformity therewith.
Dr. Wise in his address to the Committee said, “I need hardly say to you, as Americans, and as Jews, we are very much disturbed over what seems like nothing less than an attempt, if not physically, to destroy, at least economically, and morally to exterminate the Jewish people, or great numbers of the Jewish people in Germany.
“May I be permitted to point out two things? One is that the present Chancellor of the German Reich, or Republicâ€”and no one seems to know whether it has again become an Empire, or whether it remains a Republicâ€”the present Chancellor of Germany has been a citizen of Germany for a period of one year. He became a citizen by fiat. That is not my business, and perhaps you would say that it is the business of Germany.
“But I wonder whether you happen to know that sixteen or seventeen years ago, Jews celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of the beginning of the written records of Jewish life in Germany. That means, it goes back to 916. That was seventeen years ago.
“Without arguing the case with you, I know how deeply the Chairman of this Committee is disturbed, because, apart from everything else, 12,000 Jewish citizens of Germany have lived, served, fought and died each year in Germany for a thousand years.
“I need not point out to you the names of Jews, like Mendelsohn, the greater composer of music; Lasker Bamberger, Heine, Boerne, Wasserman, a great physician, and Ehrlich, and Albert Einstein, of German birth; all names of men who have made for the enrichment of German culture and the enhancement of worth while values of German life.
“If the Chairman is disturbed, I can sympathize deeply with him, and I am sure you will sympathize with the motivation that lies back of his hope that something may be done to make life a little more tolerable for those who find themselves under the neces-
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.