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American Consul Samuel Honaker's Description of Anti-Semitic Persecution and Kristallnacht and its Aftereffects in the Stuttgart Region (November 12 and November 15, 1938)

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In a figurative sense, my home has been bombarded by visitors and telephone calls giving evidence of the distressing circumstances in which many people are finding themselves. Hundreds are appealing for help and encouragement, and with husbands in concentration camps many are without funds. Late last night an American woman of over sixty years of age begged for assistance in ascertaining the whereabouts of her aged and sick husband who had been rounded up with the German Jews. I have strong hopes that he will be at her side again within a few hours. Many other Americans are appealing on behalf of their Jewish relatives.

The Consulate received almost one hundred telegrams yesterday and almost as many today. Many of these have been from the United States and have expressed the utmost interest in their relatives in Germany. In the majority of cases the male members of the families concerned were ascertained to be in concentration camps. Even up to this minute arrests have been made in Stuttgart and telegrams are constantly being received, although it is late at night.

For more than five days the office has been inundated with people. Each day a larger and larger crowd has besieged the Consulate, filling all the rooms and overflowing into the corridor of a building six stories high. Today there were several thousand. Each person has been handled with the greatest possible consideration and each person must have felt that he or she had been as courteously and sympathetically handled as the enormous crowd would permit.

The entire staff has responded most loyally and efficiently to the demands with which we have been faced. Of the officers, all of whom have worked well under trying conditions, I wish especially to mention, first, Consul L'Heureux, and secondly, Vice Consul Spalding. Of the clerks, Mr. Morton Bernath has been outstanding.

These situations are not entirely new to us at Stuttgart. While this one is on a much greater scale, we have been experiencing similar but minor situations during the past three years, some of which appear retrospectively to have been much more difficult and to have required much more ingenuity. In reality, I have handled many protection cases, with the able assistance of Morton Bernath, which have involved arrests for political offences, exchange infractions, et cetera, and I am glad to report to you that we have been uniformly successful. At the present time matters involving the transfer of money on behalf of American citizens in the United States are proving unusually difficult features of our work on account of the attitude of the German Government. Only a few days ago, however, we were successful in prevailing upon the German Government to release its claim on the entire fortune of an aged Jewish woman of American nationality.

I trust that the foregoing description will, in addition to the political reports of this office, with which the Embassy seems to be very pleased, give you a concrete idea of the situation which has been confronting us from time to time over the last three years, and will especially depict the conditions which are immediately confronting us.

Sincerely yours,
[signed: Samuel Honaker]

Enclosure: copy of report no. 307

Source of original English text: American Consul Samuel Honaker's description of Anti-Semitic persecution and Kristallnacht and its aftereffects in the Stuttgart region (November 12 and November 15, 1938), State Central Decimal File (CDF) 862.4015/2002, Records of the Department of State in the National Archives, Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State; reprinted in John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes. Vol. 3, New York: Garland, 1982, pp. 176-89.

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