No. 49 NAI DFA 219/8
San Francisco, 9 October 1939
(Through the Minister Plenipotentiary)
A month's duration of European hostilities finds the Pacific Coast States assuming a detached air, bordering on indifference as to the ultimate fate of Europe. A similar attitude prevailed during the various crises which have occurred in Europe for some time, and is due to the fact that the people of the Western States maintain an aloofness not only from foreign affairs, but even from developments in the Eastern States.
During the week preceding and following the outbreak of hostilities, intense interest was displayed in radio and press despatches. The press on the whole is pro-British and pro-French in its editorial comment, and while maintaining a desire for neutrality, favours the repeal of the Arms Embargo. Mr. William R. Hearst1 maintains his isolationist policy, and opposes the repeal of the Arms Embargo.
The press generally is facetious in its reference to the recent and suddenly developed friendship between Germany and Soviet Russia. Mr. Hearst, who is uncompromisingly hostile to Communism, informed me that he considered the pact between those countries the most unfortunate thing which happened in European affairs since 1918.
The San Francisco 'Chronicle', (Independent Republican), sent its Foreign Commentator to Germany early in August to cover the Nuremberg Nazi Congress. When the latter was cancelled, he was instructed to remain in Berlin and report on the crisis. Mr. Paul Smith, Managing Editor, informed me that he received a cable in code eight hours before the war broke out, from Mr. Ross, then in Berlin, to the effect that there would be no European war.
I attended a function held at the Golden Gate International Exposition, at which most of the Foreign Consuls in San Francisco were present, and gathered that they were adopting the policy of avoiding discussing the European crisis with Americans. Captain Fritz Wiedemann, German Consul General, appeared very nervous and depressed. It is generally known he was close to Reichsfuehrer Hitler when in Germany, and is reported to have always advised against taking any steps which would bring about war. It is also stated that Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop clashed with the Reichsfuehrer over Captain Wiedemann, and was responsible for the latter being sent to his present post. Captain Wiedemann is reported to have stated that his only hope now is that his advice to his Chief proves to have been wrong.
Shortly after war broke out, Captain Wiedemann received a telegram purporting to have come from the Secretary of the Olympic Club, San Francisco, of which he is a member. The telegram alleged that 165 members of the Club had declared their intention of resigning unless Captain Wiedemann tendered his resignation as a member. The Consul General immediately telegraphed his resignation, and later learned that the telegram was a hoax, and had not been sent by the Secretary of the Club. At the unanimous request of the Board of Directors, Captain Wiedemann withdrew his resignation. The Consul General has a very likeable personality, and has made, since coming to San Francisco, quite a number of friends whom he still retains. He has, however, kept very much to himself during the past month. The San Francisco 'Chronicle' editorially condemned the sending of the telegram referred to, and called it a 'dirty trick'.
There are three groups of organized Germans in San Francisco, as follows:
(1) The United German Societies, numbering 77.
(2) The German-American League of Culture.
(3) The German-American Bund, a Nazi organization.
In my report numbered 81/M/38, dated the 6th October, 1938, I reported the disturbance which attended the annual German Day celebrations held last year. The German Consul General, Baron von Killinger, addressed that meeting, which was picketed by Communists, and resulted in serious rioting. The 1939 celebrations were held last week, but the German Consul General was not present, nor were any Nazi flags displayed. The Mayor of San Francisco attended, and his stand against America being drawn into the European war was loudly applauded. So also was a reference made by a Judge of German descent to the fact that Germans were in the front ranks 'which kicked the British out of the United States'. The proceedings were reported as being orderly, and there was no picketing.
The German-American League of Culture is known to be a Communist organization, and its San Francisco branch has attacked Captain Wiedemann on many occasions, and has frequently picketed the German Consulate General. Nothing has been heard of it recently, but the National Convention held at Cleveland on the 4th September requested the recall of Captain Wiedemann, and called upon the German people 'to over-throw Hitler as the destroyer of the reputation of Good Germans'.
The German-American Bund is considered the official Nazi Party Organization in the United States. I enclose report of its meeting held last week from which it appears it concentrated most of its energy against the Jews, the Democracies, and is working for American Neutrality.2
A feature writer of the San Francisco 'News' (Scripps-Howard publication) reports that propaganda sheets are being sent from Hamburg to the San Francisco Irish, with a view to lining them up with Germany. I have not seen a copy of the circular, and have not met any Irish or Irish-American in San Francisco who received one.
The San Francisco 'Chronicle', reporting on Reichsfuehrer Hitler's speech on the 6th instant, heads the editorial 'Brigand States his Terms. Hitler States he will be Content with his Loot'. The editorial states that Britain and France cannot settle with Hitler except on his own terms, which would reduce them to the position of third rate Powers henceforth by the grace of Nazidom.
Other Western comment is made by the Portland (Oregon) 'Oregonian', which states, 'The address indicates that Hitler wants war if he cannot have what he wants, which is dominance of the continent, through negotiation'.
Relative press clippings are enclosed.3
[signed] M. Murphy
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