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Business and the Holocaust
Articles | Excerpts | Government Resources | Historical Media Reports | Media Reports | Organizations | Restitution | War Crimes Trials
©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black.   Used by permission.
Chapter One 1 |  2 |  3   Chapter Two 1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7   Chapter Three 1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7 |  8

The Transfer Agreement:
The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine
  by Edwin Black
Excerpts from Three Chapters

~ Chapter Two - 7 ~

The Ideological Struggle

The Transfer Agreement: The Pact Between the Third Reich & Jewish Palestine

Their argument to the secretary probably added little to the joint Committee-B'nai B'rith communiqué issued after the Congress' March 19 emergency protest organizing meeting. To salve the angry demands of rank and file B'nai B'rith members, and to show quotable concern in the light of the Congress' public rallying, that joint communiqué declared: "The American Jewish Committee and the B'nai B'rith express their horror at anti-Jewish action in Germany, which is denying to German Jews the fundamental rights of every human being. The events of the past few weeks in Germany have filled with indignation not only American Jews but also Americans of every other faith... We shall take every possible measure to discharge the solemn responsibility which rests on our organization to marshal the forces of public opinion among Americans of every faith to right the wrongs against the Jews of Germany and for the vindication of the fundamental principles of human liberty."(45)

From Hull's point of view, listening to a distinguished Committee and B'nai B'rith delegation was an obligation to fulfill, not an inspiration to action. The March 23 visit therefore did not accomplish any amelioration for the Jews in Germany. Worse, the visit confused the State Department. One Jewish group was bent on loud and vigorous protest. Another was calling for quit, discreet diplomacy. But the Committee-B'nai B'rith people were the influential and prominent leaders of the Jewish community. So Hull concluded that their voice was representative of Jewish sentiment.(46)

In one sense, then, the Committee's "methods" had worked. Despite a tiny constituency that numbered about 300, the Committee's pronouncements were still more potent than those of the half-million-strong American Jewish Congress. The delegation had effectively discredited the Congress as naïve rabble-rousers.(47)

Shortly after the Committee-B'nai B'rith mission left Washington, Hull dispatched a cable to George A. Gordon, America's chargé d'afffaires in Germany: "Public opinion in this country continues alarmed at the persistent press reports of mistreatment of Jews in Germany.... I am of the opinion that outside intercession has rarely produced the results desired and has frequently aggravated the situation. Nevertheless, if you perceive any way in which this government could usefully be of assistance, I should appreciate your frank and confidential advice. On Monday next [March 27] there is to be held in New York a monster mass meeting. If prior to that date an amelioration in the situation has taken place, which you could report [for]... release to the press, together with public assurances by Hitler and other leaders, it would have a calming effect.(48) In essence, Hull was asking for an encouraging report-justified or not-to soothe angry Jewish groups. Thus, he could cooperate with the Committee request as well.

Within twenty-four hours, Gordon composed a response to Hull: "I entirely agree with your view...[of] the present situation of outside intercession.... There is...one suggestion I venture to make in case you have already not thought of it.... [T]he general tenor of communications between foreigners and the government here has necessarily been one of complaint and protest, and it is possible that if confidence [were expressed] in Hitler's determination to restore peaceful and normal conditions, emphasizing what a great place he will achieve in the estimation of the world if he is able to bring it about, it might have a helpful effect.... Hitler now represents the element of moderation in the Nazi Party and I believe that if in any way you can strengthen his hand, even indirectly, he would welcome it."(49)

Gordon then held meetings with several of his counterparts in the Berlin diplomatic community, obtaining a consensus against any efforts in their countries to use diplomatic channels as a medium of protest against Adolf Hitler. He wired news of his achievements to Hull.(50)

An unwitting alliance of groups now saw their mission as obstructing anti-Nazi protest in America and Europe, especially an economic boycott. The members of this alliance included B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Committee, and even the Jewish Agency for Palestine, each preoccupied with its own vested interests, each driven by its own ideological imperatives, and each wishing that conditions for German Jews would improve in the quieter climate they hoped to establish.

A fourth member of this alliance was now the United States government, which was pursuing what it thought was America's vital interests. As for the fate of German's Jews? Officially, the U.S. government simply wasn't concerned.

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NOTES

45. Ibid. RETURN TO TEXT

46. Telegram, "The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Germany (Gordon)," Mar. 24, 1933. FRUS, 330-31; telegram, "The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Germany (Gordon)," Mar. 26, 1933, FRUS, 333-34. RETURN TO TEXT

47. Cohen, 338; see Frederick Aaron Lazin, "The Reaction of American Jewry to Hitler's Anti-Jewish Policies 1933-1939 (unpub. Master's thesis, political science, Univ. of Chicago, 1968), 22; see "Jews Here Demand Washington Action," NYT, Mar. 21, 1933. RETURN TO TEXT

48. Telegram, "The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Germany (Gordon)," Mar. 24, 1933, FRUS, 330-31. RETURN TO TEXT

49. Telegram, "The Chargé in Germany (Gordon) to the Secretary of State," Mar. 25, 1933, FRUS, 331. RETURN TO TEXT

50. Telegram, "The Chargé in Germany (Gordon) to the Secretary of State," Mar. 26, 1933, FRUS, 334. RETURN TO TEXT

©2000 - 2001 Edwin Black   Used by permission.

All Rights Reserved. No part of this work covered by the copyright hereon may be used in any form or by any means--graphic, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping or information storage and retrieval systems--without the permission of the publisher.


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