Anti-Semitic views claimed to have been expressed by Joseph P. Kennedy — during the time when he was U.S. Ambassador in London — in his conversations with the German Ambassador there in 1938, were revealed here today in captured German diplomatic documents made public by the State Department.
The documents, which claim that Kennedy approved of the Nazi treatment of Jews in Germany, were discovered in the top secret archives of the German Foreign Ministry. One of them is a letter from the then German Ambassador to Great Britain, Dr. Herbert von Dirksen, to Baron Ernst von Weizsaecker, State Secretary of the German Foreign Ministry who was recently convicted on war crimes charges. In this report, von Dirksen wrote of Kennedy as follows:
“The Ambassador then touched upon the Jewish question and stated that it was naturally of great importance to German-American relations. In this connection it was not so much the fact that we wanted to get rid of the Jews that was so harmful to us, but rather the loud clamor with which we accompanied the purpose. He himself understood our Jewish policy completely; he was from Boston and there, in one golf club, and in other clubs, no Jews had been admitted in the past 50 years. In the United States, therefore, such pronounced attitudes were quite common, but people avoided making so much outward fuss about it.
“Although he did not know Germany, he (Kennedy) had learned from the most varied sources that the present government had done great things for Germany and that the Germans were satisfied and enjoyed good living conditions. The report by the well-known flier, Lindbergh, who had spoken very favorably of Germany, made a strong impression upon Ambassador Kennedy, as I know from an earlier conversation with him.
“As an illustration of how wrong impressions regarding Germany were being spread, Ambassador Kennedy related that recently ‘Johnnie’ Reckefeller, a very influential and sensible man, had told him that according to a report by one of the leading professors of the Rockefeller Institute, the limited amount of food available in Germany was being reserved mainly for the army, with the result that the rest of the population had to suffer want. As far as knew, the professor who made the report was a Jew. He — Kennedy — had set Rockefeller right.”
Emphasizing in his report that when Kennedy spoke favorably of Germany, people had confidence in his statements “because he was a Catholic,” the German envoy added that he “repeatedly and emphatically” welcomed Kennedy’s intention “to enlighten” President Roosevelt about Germany. He then quoted Kennedy as stating: “The President was not anti-German, but desired friendly relations with Germany. However, there was no one who had come from Europe and had spoken a friendly word to him regarding present-day Germany and her government.
“When I remarked that I feared he was right in this, Kennedy added that he knew he was right. Most of them were afraid of the Jews and did not dare to say anything good about Germany; others did not know any better, because they were not informed about Germany,” von Dirksen reported. He added that when he brought up the question of the anti-Nazi attitude of the American press, Kennedy did not have much to say to these statements “and merely mentioned that the press on the East Coast was unfortunately predominant in the formation of public opinion in America and that it was strongly influenced by the Jews.”
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.