Memorandum the Secretary of State Regarding a Conversation With the German Ambassador (Dieckhoff), [Extracts], [WASHINGTON,] July 7, 1938.

The German Ambassador called on his own request to say goodby before leaving for Germany where he plans to stay until September. He was affable and agreeable in his personal attitude. I gave him an opportunity to talk if he desired, before saying anything myself. He soon proceeded by stating that the relations between our two countries were not very good when he came here as Ambassador, and that he had come with a special purpose and desire to be instrumental in improving them. He then added that, unfortunately, the relations had not improved but were now worse.... I replied that I thoroughly agreed with him that the relations between our two countries had become steadily worse and that they were continuing to grow worse; that I had left the United States Senate in order to come to the State Department and aid the President in the general undertaking of carrying forward a broad basic program to restore world order based on law, with a sound economic foundation; that, when President Roosevelt came into office in 1933, the general international and world situation was becoming fundamentally worse-more chaotic and more nearly anarchistic; that most of the principles governing normal and peaceful international relations and sound economics were being violated and abandoned on a steadily increasing scale; that the doctrine of force, militarism and territorial aggression was being invoked more and more to spread violence throughout the world and to inflict unusual punishments and injuries on people both within and without countries practicing the policy of force; that, in brief, the entire world situation had become dangerous, if not to say desperate, especially from the long viewpoint of the peace and orderly progress of the human race.

I went on to say that, of course, the people of this country utterly abhor many of the practices of the German Government within its own territory and they cannot understand them from any practical viewpoint so far as the future welfare and progress of Germany are concerned. I added that our people generally seem to assume that the German people, having undergone disagreeable experiences during the ten or twelve years following the war, naturally, as opportunities were presented to release them from further restraints, moved entirely over to the opposite extreme, in connection with which they give full vent to their emotions and passions and tolerate acts and practices relating to racial minorities and religions which they would not ordinarily and normally tolerate; that, accordingly, the belief has been definite that these are temporary manifestations and abnormalities and that in due time the German people would swing back to a normal state of mind and normal relations with other governments and with their fellow man; that, in the light of this viewpoint, my Government has been earnestly hoping that the German Government would reach a stage where it would decide to support the program of peace and orderly progress and normal international relations, and the principles underlying the same, which this Government has been striving to keep alive and to aid in advancing. I said that there was only one alternative course-the course of force, militarism and territorial aggression, with all the hurtful and destroying practices and methods that accompany the same; that these inevitably are leading the world backward instead of forward; that this course will, sooner or later, bring on a more or less general war, and in this event that there will scarcely be left a trace of the people who brought it on or those against whom it was waged as well . . .


Source: U.S., Department of State, Publication 1983, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931-1941 (Washington, D.C.: U.S., Government Printing Office, 1943, pp. 422-23

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