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April 01, 1977 - Image 51

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-04-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NEI DETROIT jEWISIt NEWS

American patriot Pat-
rick Henry of Virginia
•was quoting Jeremiah
6:14 and 8:11 when he
said, "Gentlemen, cry"
peace, peace, but there is
no peace."

The Protection of the U.S. Government
Was Required for an American Jewish
Journalist on Assignment in Nazi Germany



By BORIS SMOLAR

(Editor-in-chief Emeritus, JTA)
(copyright 1977, JTA, Inc.)

(Editor's note: This is a
chapter from Mr. Smolar's
book, "In the Service of My
People," soon to appear.)

The American Embassy
Berlin gave me specia
ntion during my stay in
Nazi Germany as corre-
spondent of the Jewish Tele-
graphic Agency. It was
clear at the embassy that
as a Jewish journalist I
would need special pro-
tection—even though I was
an American citizen.

Every time I left the
States, I would get a person-
al letter from the State De-
partment, signed by the Sec-
. retary of State and ad-
dressed to American diplo-
- matic representatives
abroad, asking them to as-
sist me in my work as a
journalist.. Such a letter
signed by Secretary, of
State Kellogg helped me in
the Soviet - Union in the
1920s
when I came into
-
► sharp
conflict with the
GPU—even though the
United States did not recog-
nize Soviet Russia at the
time and there was con-
sequently no American rep-
resentative in Moscow.
...

I also had such a letter
signed by Secretary of
► State Stimson when I set
out for Berlin in the very
first days of the Nazi re-
gime, where I was to liv e

in utter fear.

William Dodd, the Ameri-
J. can ambassador in Berlin,
' made me feel at home in
il the embassy soon after my
arrival in Nazi Germany.
' So too did Raymond Geist,
the American consul gener-
al. Both were liberals and
both made no secret of
their hatred of Nazis—even
• though they always . ob-
served strict diplomatic
courtesy towards the Nazi
government. Both warned
me that I would be in con-
stant danger in Berlin.

I used to get my mail at
the American Consulate.
0 This gave Consul General
Geist an excuse to call me
every day to see whether
everything was all right.
His secretary would call
e e each morning at my
I and tell me whether
e was any mail for me
at the consulate. But mail
was not uppermost in our
minds then. The object of
the calls was really to find
out whether I was in my
► room and whether anything
had happened to me since
the last call. I would get an-
other call in the evening—
under another pretext. The
point of all these calls was
to show the -Nazi govern-
ment—which was undoubt-
edly tapping my tele-
phone—that the American
► embassy and consulate
were taking a personal -in-
terest in my welfare.
During the ' day I would
visit the embassy and con-
sulate, which were in differ-

OP

il

ent parts of . the city, and I Jew-baiting. Every day the
felt at home in both places.
entire German press and
I would share my news on radio was filled with anti-
Nazi acts of terror against Jewish poison. Groups of
Jews with the consul gener- uniformed Nazis would
al, who would use my infor-, march in the streets every
mation in his reports to day singing anti-Jewish
Washington from time to songs. Anti-Jewish slogans
time. I also had a chance to could be seen on every wall
see reports on acts of ter- in the city. Provocative
ror against Jews in other anti-Jewish posters had
cities, sent by the Ameri- been hung up in public
can consuls in Hamburg, places. The anti-Jewish Nu-
Munich, Dusseldorf and remberg Laws had not yet
elsewhere. -
' been issued, but new de-
crees came out every day
depriving Jews of basic
human rights, thus keeping
them in constant terror
over their future.
In such circumstances I
felt I . should not leave Ger-
many. I was the only for-
eign correspondent in which
Jewish leaders in Berlin
confided information on
what was happening among
them and to them. I was
the only contact between
them and the outside Jew-
ish world. I was also the
only Jewish contact be-
BORIS SMOLAR
tween them and the outside
Both the State Department non-Jevvish world. They had
and the White House were no confidence in the other
keenly interested in the foreign correspondents,
anti-Jewish developments none of whom was Jewish.
in .Germany. President
I would share my news
Roosevelt and the State De- with these correspondents
partment were then liter-
because it was important
ally being flooded by ap- for 'them to know as much
peals from Jewish organiza- as possible about the fate of
tions and both Jewish and German Jewry too. My de-
non-Jewish individuals to in-_ parture from Germany in
tervene on behalf of Ger- such circumstances would
man Jewry. The American have meant complete isola-
embassy in Berlin was tion for German Jewry
under instructions from from the rest of the world—
Washington to keep a sharp at a time when it was ex-
lookout and send frequent tremely important for the
reports on the fate of Ger-
world to know more and
man Jewry. In some of more about the tragic fate
these reports the embassy of the Jews in Germany.
would use information con-
Correspondents for the
fidentially given to me by large American papers also
Jewish leaders.
began to feel endangered be-
cause of their anti-German
In the National Archives
in Washington one can now reports. I was in constant
find quite a number of
touch , with the New York
State Department docu- Times office in Berlin
ments in which my name is
which was heavily pad-
mentioned. These reports
locked. No one could get in
were from the American
unless he first telephoned
from\ Outside. The staff of
embassy in Berlin to the
Secretary of State. Consid-
the Berlin office of the New
ered secret documents for
York Times feared attack/
more than 30 years, they
by Nazi hooligans as did
can now be examined at the New York Herald Trib-
the Archives with - special
une staff. -Every Herald
permission.
Tribune staff member had
The Nazi Propaganda
a key to the locked head-
Ministry as well as the For- quarters of its Berlin office.
eign Ministry (where I was
The Gestapo (which was
openly registered as an following me from the first
American Jewish journal-
day of my stay in Berlin)
ist) had the impression that knew that I was getting spe- •
I had come to Germany for cial attention from the
only a few weeks. I had the
American Embassy. This
same impression—but it
was also known to the Nazi
was becoming clearer and.. Foreign and Propaganda
clearer that Nazi brutalities
Ministries. Under the im-
against German Jewry in
pression that I would appar-
the first weeks after their ently not be in Germany for
takeover signalled only the too long, they did not both-
beginning of even harder er me during the first few
times for German Jewry.
weeks, but when they saw I
I began to feel as if I was not even thinking of
were on a battlefield, meet-
leaving, they began to
ing the enemy face to face.
make my stay uncomfort-
able.
I was in danger every day,
but the situation of German
Things went so far that
Jewry kept worsening. The
the. Gestapo even searched
air was filled with wild
my apartment, tried to ar-

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rest me, and even threat-
ened my life. Each time I
would let the American Em-
bassy know about what had
happened to me. The em-
bassy reacted with extraor-
dinary speed and in-
cisiveness by protesting to
the highest officials in the
Gestapo and the Foreign
Ministry.
As a result of these pro-
tests by the American Em-
bassy, I always came out
the victor—but not for long.
I would be "visited" by Ges-
tapo agents almost every
week in my apartment or I
would be called to the Ges-
tapo for "questioning."
Once I was arrested and
my American passport was
taken away, but I could not
be detained for long be-
cause of a sharp protest by
Washington.

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