Berlin, April 4, 1939.
The Honorable George S. Messersmith
Assistant Secretary of State
Dear Mr. Messersmith:
I have your personal and confidential letter of March 17, with which you sent a copy of the confidential report issued by the Jewish Telegraph Agency under [the] date of March 6, 1939. You call attention to statements made in the report, under the section headed "Jewish Situation", which you think refers to me.
It is true that I did have a talk with Mr. Bernstein, the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraph Agency who has been operating here in Germany for the last year or so, ever since the expulsion of Ben Smolar, and with whom I have been in fairly close touch. Bernstein has done a very fine piece of work in Berlin and in Vienna and, to my astonishment, during all this time he has in no way run amuck with the Secret Police. He is a man of unusual intelligence and indefatigable energy. When he was about to leave Berlin, he informed me that he was going, and I invited him and Mrs. Bernstein to tea, and discussed the general situation with him, particularly for the purpose of giving him some information confidentially which I thought he might constructively use on behalf of the potential Jewish refugees in Germany. I wanted also to give him some background of the negotiations which the Intergovernmental Committee had here and, if possible, convey through him an interpretation of the situation which might be constructive.
It is very difficult for me in a letter to explain what I consider to be the realities of the Jewish situation in Germany. The whole problem is bound up closely with our own immigration policy, and I have been very anxious that the work of the Intergovernmental Committee succeed, for two reasons, firstly, to relieve the pressure upon us, both in and outside of Germany; and secondly, to relieve the distress of thousands of innocent people in this country. I have been very anxious that the negotiations started between the Intergovernmental Committee and the Germans continue, for I am of the opinion that as long as this relationship is kept up, some degree of moderation at least will be exercised by the Germans, and the lot of the refugees [will] become easier. It is for this reason that I took the opportunity to have a final talk with Bernstein, as I believed that, going back to the United States and having had so large an experience in this country during the last year, he would report his impressions and convictions to many important people in the United States whose attitude towards the Intergovernmental Committee and its work would very much count, and I was exceedingly anxious to impress upon Bernstein the importance of not starting a campaign in the American press of such a character that the Germans, out of revenge, would break off the negotiations with the Intergovernmental Committee and start physical persecutions more violently than heretofore. The pressure upon us increases through physical violence, although the truth is that the Jews are more horribly ground down through measures applied on account of legislative restrictions, and so forth.
I am taking the opportunity now of correcting the statements made by Mr. Bernstein, and you will perceive that I have been misquoted, though I am very sure that Bernstein had no intention whatever of misquoting me; he made no notes of what I said, and probably endeavored to record as faithfully as possible the points which I made.