July 2, 2017

1940. Nazis Complain the United States "Fails" to See Their Viewpoint

"What Is the United States Going to Do?"
Anti-fascist demonstrators clash with police outside of Madison Square Garden in New York City while protesting the German American Bund's "Americanization" rally, February 20, 1939 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. In 1940, New York Times correspondent C. Brooks Peters reported from Berlin on the German opinion of the United States and its policy toward Nazi Germany.

From The New York Times, June 9, 1940:
Claim Amazement at 'Failure' Here to See Their Viewpoint

Berlin, June 8 — The opinion is freely expressed in authoritative quarters of the Third Reich's capital that the foreign policy of the United States continues to be an enigma, and as to the result thereof it is extremely difficult to have any positive opinion.

The Germans declare America's foreign policy is not clearly defined and, particularly during the past year, has been wavering so that at any particular moment it was impossible to know in what direction exactly the United States was proceeding—if any, at all.

Since, however, the American governmental leaders who direct the nation's policies have made no secret of the side of this conflict upon which their sympathies lies, it is safe to say the Germans think rather little of the foreign policy of the United States.

Peace Job Projected

Whatever it is, the Germans are convinced of one thing—if Germany wins the war, a neutral power will not have any hand in the peace settlement that follows. For this war, it is constantly reiterated here, is a European affair and as such will be settled by European powers.

Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and probably also Joseph Stalin, it is suggested here, will arrange this peace, and they will do so thorough a job that Britain and France will no longer be important factors, at least in continental politics.

America's new armament policy, however, has, it is admitted, caused considerable shaking of heads in Germany; not because of the action of the United States in increasing its military strength, but because of the alleged existence of a threat to American security that, it is declared here, is being employed to justify the necessity for gigantic expenditures.

American armament, the Germans say, is purely an internal political question for Americans to decide and is no concern of the Reich. Germany, informed quarters here assert, has never interfered in private matters of the United States, and by the same token she expects America not to interfere in the private matters of the Reich—of which the present war to "free Germany from the chains of the Treaty of Westphalia" is considered the most important.

The German Viewpoint

The Germans claim to still be amazed at the apparent inability of popular opinion in the United States to grasp the German viewpoint.

At the same time, however, National Socialist spokesmen continually repeat that this war is more or less a crusade not merely against France and Britain but against "the plutocratic democratic system," in which a victorious new world order of totalitarian States is to eliminate and supplant the "old decadent order of democracy."

When Americans claim to feel themselves threatened by Germany, it is said in informed quarters in Berlin, they are engaging in unpleasant wishful thinking. The possibility of a German invasion of Canada, should the British government flee there, is declared here to be a bogey conjured up by Prime Minister Churchill, although the Hamburger Fremdenblatt suggested the flight of the British Government to Canada and "the rescue of Europe by the New World" as a possible cause for extension of the hostilities.

But the preponderant official Nazi opinion is that the United States' rearmament policy represents an attempt by President Roosevelt in an election year to relieve unemployment and to get the necessary funds from Congress for what, in the German view, is tantamount to another pump-priming scheme.

For this purpose, it is said in German quarters, President Roosevelt is developing "a fear psychosis" among Americans, not only to get this scheme running, but at the same time to divert American public opinion from "the debacle of his own domestic policies" and thus to assure his own reelection or that of another Democratic President.

It is easier, the Germans declare, for the President to get the necessary funds by suggesting the Americas are threatened than by frankly stating that he is trying another pump-priming plan.

But whatever its real purpose, Washington's rearmament program, the Germans declare, will not be able to help the Allies. Before the United States can produce sufficient war materials for itself, it is asserted categorically here, the war will be over. How the Allies are going to get enough from the United States to enable them to catch up to Germany in armament, particularly after their definitely established heavy losses in equipment in Flanders and in view of the demands of the United States' own program, is a question the Germans declare they can easily answer: They are not.

At the same time, however, it is said here that when Allied purchases of American war materials are forced to stop because of the defeat of France and Britain, the new American rearmament program will be able to take up whatever slack results in the American industrial market. This again, however, the Germans declare is purely an American affair.

After the Peace

The United States may, it is suggested here, participate in the European economy of the future, "on a strictly parity basis." In other words, it is explained, Germany must have a guarantee of an open-door policy in Latin America if the United States expects foreign trade accommodations in Europe.

Conversations in German quarters, moreover, leave no doubt that the United States' policy toward the totalitarian States must be reversed if reciprocal treatment is expected.

Otherwise Europe will become "an economic autocracy," dominated by Germany, Italy and Russia.

For the present, it is said here, however, Chancellor Hitler is too busy with the pressing business of winning the war to concern himself with policies for the future.

None the less, one question most frequently asked of Americans residing in Germany today by Germans in all walks of life is: "What is the United States going to do?"