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George Messersmith’s Report to the State Department on the "Present Status of the Anti-Semitic Movement in Germany" (September 21, 1933)

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In various dispatches I have informed the Department that the period of physical persecution of the Jews may be considered as over. This I think still holds, but isolated instances of physical outrages committed on Jews continually take place. About three weeks ago the son of one of the most prominent Jewish families in Germany was delivered dead to his wife, and the family allowed to bury the body but not to see it, except one side of the face. The mother of this Jew is one of the most philanthropic women in Germany and has contributed during the war and since then, freely from her considerable fortune, to the relief of suffering. Her son, who was obviously brutally murdered, was five times wounded during the first war and after the first time that he was wounded would not have been under the necessity of returning to the front. After the war, being impaired in health as a result of his wounds and enjoying an ample fortune, he bought an estate about 40 miles from Berlin where he devoted himself to training young men to be good farmers. He gained the enmity of a father and son living on his estate, who were continually making difficulty, but who, as National Socialists, after March 5 saw that this Jew was put into a concentration camp where he was severely mistreated. On account of the position of his family and his own good works and those of his mother, he was released from the concentration camp. After leaving the concentration camp he came to live with his wife in Berlin as it was no longer safe for him on the estate. About three weeks ago on a Saturday morning, he was notified by the police of his district to appear at the police station to register. He went to the police station and when he arrived there was told a telegram had just come requiring his arrest and he was detained. He was permitted to send word to his wife, who came and brought his luncheon to the police station. This was the last time he was seen live by any of his family. On the Wednesday evening following, a policeman came to the home of his wife and said that if she would come to the police station she would have good news of her husband. In the meantime prominent persons had used all their influence in an endeavor to learn where the young man was; but he could not be located even with the assistance of high-ranking members of the Government in Berlin. The wife went to the police station and when she arrived there was informed that her husband was dead. She was taken to the mortuary and a cloth was lifted from one side of the face of the young man so that she could identify him. The body was delivered to the family for burial but they were not permitted to see it. The police gave out that he had committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a truck while being taken to the concentration camp. The fact is that the same two men, father and son, who had previously caused his being placed in a concentration camp through the S.A. and the assistance of the police, had got him into their hands. How he was actually killed remains a mystery, beyond that his dead body was delivered to the police at the police station by the S.A., who had received him alive at the same station. The facts in this case as above recited, horrible and unbelievable as they may seem, come to me from sources which are unimpeachable.

That incidents of the above nature are becoming more and more isolated is undoubtedly correct; but it is equally true that they are still continuing to take place and that the perpetrators, even though it is possible for the authorities to locate them, remain entirely unpunished.

I have gone into the present status of the Jews in Germany at this length as I believe it is essential that the Department be informed as to details. The Minister of Propaganda, Dr. Goebbels, repeated in his speech on the racial question at Nuremberg the phrase heard so often, that not a hair on the head of a Jew had been harmed since the 5th of March. If such statements are made by responsible officers of the Government, it is necessary that the real facts appear in the record.

Respectfully yours,

George S. Messersmith
American Consul General

Source: George S. Messersmith Papers, Item 305, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware. Messersmith, G.S., Berlin. Despatch No. 1596 to Secretary of State Cordell Hull, Washington, September 21,
1933 – George Messersmith’s Report to the State Department on the “Present State of the Anti-Semitic Movement in Germany” (September 21, 1933)

Original text is in English.

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