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Raymond Geist’s Report to George Messersmith on the Interministerial Meeting at the Reich Aviation Ministry and the Nazi Regime’s Future Plans for the Jews (April 4, 1939)

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I agree with you that any statement to the effect that the Nazis will live up to anything they promise would be a very wild and hazardous one for anybody to make who has had long experience in Germany. With respect to all transactions involving National Socialists I have no illusions as to the manner in which they may be kept.

I am not disturbed about the bulletin, because I do not believe that Bernstein had any intentions of misquoting me, and particularly in view of the fact that the conversation I had with him was arranged by me and held for the purpose I have explained above. I may say, in this general connection that Jewish leaders here are of the opinion that since Mr. Rublee's visit there has been a distinct detention in the general atmosphere, and I am very anxious that this shall continue.

The Secret Police has set up, in conjunction with the Jewish Community, certain immigration offices which are preparing in Berlin 180 - 200 people a day for emigration. The greatest factor in the preparation consists in giving these people passports. Receiving a passport is tantamount to a stern warning to leave the country. Since the system began, I estimate that 10 - 15,000 people have been so prepared in Berlin, and this is going forward at the rate of about 200 a day, according to most accurate information I have received from leaders of the Jewish Community. I am very apprehensive as to how the pressure is going to be applied. I would not at all be surprised if this pressure was applied in such a way as to make orderly emigration impossible. I think the Germans will not consider themselves in any way obligated to regard any of the commitments made in the agreement with the Intergovernmental Committee as binding until there is tangible proof of the number of emigrants which foreign countries will be prepared to take. Up to the present time, the report which Mr. Pell has promise[d] to let the Germans have in this respect has not been forthcoming. Dr. Wohlthat is waiting to see Mr. Pell again and has invited him here for Thursday of this week. I have had no news from Pell, however, that he expects to come. I am afraid that in the end the Germans will consider that the efforts of the Intergovernmental Committee have produced so few results that they will consider the agreement off and will proceed to handle the Jewish problem entirely in their own way. There can, of course, be only an internal solution of the Jewish problem in Germany, and I believe they are preparing to solve the problem in this way. It will, of course, consist in placing all the able-bodied Jews in work camps, confiscating the wealth of the entire Jewish population, isolating them, and putting additional pressure on the whole community, and getting rid of as many as they can by force.

With regard to the immigration work, I am satisfied to see that everything is moving along smoothly and that the registrations are drawing slowly probably to an end, and I hope, in the course of time, that it will be possible to reduce staffs. I shall have an opportunity to write you more about the problems connected with the visa departments at another time.

With very kindest regards,
Yours faithfully,
[signed] Raymond [Geist]

Source: George S. Messersmith Papers, Item 1187, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware. Raymond H. Geist, Berlin, to G.S. Messersmith, Washington, DC, April 4, 1939.

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