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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)

During his first year as Reich Chancellor, Hitler sought to eliminate the political opposition, consolidate his own power, and strengthen Germany’s military position. To protect the reputation of his regime both at home and abroad, it was in his best interest to conceal the most radical elements of his ideology and racial policies. One of the soberest and most perceptive observers of the emerging Nazi regime was the American Consul General in Berlin, George S. Messersmith. In this report to the State Department, Messersmith describes the ideological underpinnings – and the ever more troubling practical manifestations – of the regime’s Jewish policy. In doing so, he quotes extensively from contemporary news reports and speeches by Hitler’s top officials. Commenting on the “remarkable insincerity” of high-ranking members of Hitler’s government, Messersmith urges the Secretary of State not to take German government reports at face value.

Following up on previous memoranda dated May 23, 1933, and June 17, 1933, Messersmith notes that the situation of the Jews in Germany had grown steadily worse during the interim months and cites the widespread dismissal of Jews from posts as lawyers, doctors, and university professors as but one example. Moreover, he sees no improvement in their situation on the horizon. On the contrary, he lists a number of new discriminatory measures that would soon take effect: “racial offices” were to be established, a law prohibiting marriages between Germans and Jews was to be implemented, and the disenfranchisement of the Jews was all but certain. Messersmith’s memorandum includes a number of chillingly prescient observations. He was clearly wrong, however, in predicting that the worst period of physical persecution of the Jews had already passed.

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American Consul General
Berlin, Germany, September 21, 1933

Subject: The present status of the anti-Semitic movement in Germany

The Honorable
The Secretary of State


I have the honor to refer to my confidential despatch No. 1330 of May 23, on the status of the anti-Semitic movement in Germany at that time, and to my confidential despatch No. 1369 of June 17, giving a resume of the then social, economic and political status of the Jews in Germany. In the present despatch, I shall endeavor to bring the Department a resume of developments since my last despatch.

Dr. Achim Gercke is the expert for racial questions in the Ministry of the Interior of the Reich. There is transmitted herewith, as of primary interest in connection with the situation of the Jews in Germany, a translation of a confidential memorandum prepared by Dr. Gercke on fundamental principles with respect to the “Mischlingefrage,” that is, [the] question of racial inter-mixture. This memorandum was not intended for publication and came to me through a confidential source. It is worthy of the Department’s attention as practically all laws and regulations affecting the Jews in Germany pass through Dr. Gercke as the racial expert of the Ministry of the Interior of the Reich, and this memorandum is particularly interesting as showing the attitude of Dr. Gercke on fundamental aspects of the problem. I quote below only a few of the significant statements made in the memorandum.

“A person is not to be considered Aryan, one of whose grandparents is Jewish; only those persons are to be considered Aryans who have no Jewish ancestors whatsoever. [ . . . ] The Jewish question and the question of mixed blood must therefore be solved on a social plane. It must again become an ethical rule that persons of German blood may only contract marriages with persons of their own kind. [ . . . ] Now as to the fundamental principles: It would be contrary to all principles of racial health if one would, without hesitation, look upon an admixture of Jewish blood in the second, third, or fourth generation as non-existent or negligible. Experience on the contrary tells us that no number of generations can be definitely determined which would be necessary to extinguish the influence of a blood mixture which has once taken place.”

There is also transmitted herewith a translation of an article which appeared in the June* number of the “National-Socialistische Monatshefte” by Dr. Gercke. This article is also of particular interest as showing the basic attitude of the man who acts as the racial expert of the Ministry of the Interior. The following are significant quotations from this article.

* It was actually the May issue of 1933, no. 38 – ed.

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