May I draw your readers’ attention to the danger of the pernicious boycott movement which has been launched by the Hitlerites in this country, and at the same time warn those who support the boycott of goods made in Hitler Germany against mistakes which unintentionally aid the criminal activities of the Nazis here.
The boycott of German goods arose spontaneously as a protest against Hitler’s atrocities. It is a world-wide movement, carried out not only by Jewish groups, but by the trade unions, the socialist parties, and by all liberty-loving people of all countries. Its success is greatly worrying the present tyrants of Germany.
Ostensibly as a counter-activity, a movement has been started by the followers of Hitler in America, especially in New York, which goes under the slogan “boycott the boycotters.” It declares a boycott against all those stores which refuse to import German goods. An organization has been created under the name of DAWA (Deutsch-Amerikanischer Wirtschafts-Ausschuss), to which those stores are invited to belong which do not take part in the boycott of German goods. Stores which belong to this organization get a DAWA sign to display in their windows and are listed in a guide book, so that they may be patronized by the Nazi sympathizers. The meeting at Madison Square Garden was but a part of this campaign.
This movement, however, cannot be considered the defensive action which it pretends to be. Actually, it is a boycott against Jewish-owned stores. We know, for instance, of cases where a storekeeper who continues to import German goods applied for membership in the DAWA, but was refused because he was a Jew.
The German store-keeper is either coerced to join the DAWA, or is tempted by sordid economic interest. He is told that if he will become a member, the Nazi sympathizers will patronize his store instead of buying from the Jewish store near-by. Just as in Germany, what pretends to be an idealistic national movement, is in reality an attempt to get the business away from the anti-Nazi competitor.
It is hard to say to what extent the DAWA and its boycott of Jewish stores will be effective, but that is not the most important consideration. The crime of this movement consists in fomenting racial prejudices and hatreds in our country. It therefore becomes more necessary than ever to realize the danger from the Hitlerites’ activities, to redouble the boycott of German goods, and to assist all those organizations which fight the Nazi criminals.
But it is equally necessary to avoid any possible mistakes in carrying on this fight. The boycott of German goods is not directed against the German people. It has only one object, to hurt and weaken the Nazi regime of terror which enslaves the German people, which has destroyed the labor organizations, done away with liberty, led the great German nation back to conditions of the darkest middle ages, and which seriously threatens peace.
This means also that we are not to boycott Germans or German-Americans; we boycott German goods and shipping, but not stores owned by Germans here. Most organizations which sponsor the boycott draw this essential distinction very clearly, but many individuals unfortunately do not always do so.
For example, we know of a number of cases where a Jewish boss has discharged a German workingman only because he was a German; his protestations that he was against Hitler did not help him. Being a German he was considered a Hitlerite and thrown out. From similar impulses, many people refuse to buy in a German-owned store. It is wrong and utterly unjust to identify all Germans and German-Americans with the Hitler regime; only a very small portion of those who live here sympathize with it.
Furthermore, to discriminate against Germans and German-owned stores would have just the opposite of the desired effect; it will drive many Germans who really have no sympathy with the Nazis, into their ranks. The German store-keeper who is boycotted by the Jews will be inclined to join the DAWA and become a Hitlerite, which he otherwise would not do. The worker who is discharged because he is a German will become more susceptible to Nazi propaganda.
It would not only be inhuman to let the innocent German or German-American suffer for the sins of the Nazi despots, it would also be a very wrong policy. The danger, however, exists that Germans in America will be discriminated against, for no other reason than because they are Germans. We, as the only German anti-Nazi labor paper in this country are vitally interested and want to utter a warning against this danger; we must not furnish ammunition to the enemy; we must not fight Hitlerism with its own weapons and create race hatreds. Our motto must be strictly adhered to: Boycott German goods and shipping, but not German stores or Germans!
Editor, Neue Volkszeitung.
New York City.