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Midwest Witnesses

German Americans in Nazi Germany | American Quakers in Nazi Germany

Mildred Fish-Harnack

German Americans in Nazi Germany

     The rise of National Socialism in Germany directly affected some native-born Americans of German descent. For example: those studying or working in Germany as of 1933, and even individuals who'd never been to Europe but were suspected, for whatever reason, of "suspicious alliances" assumed to be pro-German. Two such men were Harold Vedeler and Paul Lutz. Harold was an American student working in Germany on his dissertation during the early '30s, who later became a State Department official.  Paul was a Lutheran pastor suspected of "sympathy" with the Germans who would go on to serve as an army chaplain.  Their stories are below, in more detail.

Harold Vedeler

Working on a doctoral thesis at the University of Wisconsin, Iowa native Harold Vedeler was in Berlin in 1932 and early 1933, during the Nazis rise to power. With another student, he stood within a few feet of Adolf Hitler at a political rally and later reported he was quite dramatic a performer. Harold was alarmed by the reaction from the crowd, which was held spellbound. "[Hitler] told them what they wanted to hear that there was a way for them to rise from their problems."
           After teaching from 1933 the outbreak of war, Harold began working with the State Department in 1943, focusing until 1945 on postwar policies and the de-nazification of Germany . He played a key role in mapping U.S. policy regarding the peace settlement; at a foreign ministers conference in Moscow he served as political advisor for the negotiation of the post-war Austrian Treaty. In 1945 he served in the Central European Affairs Division as an interrogator of war prisoners, including Hermann Goering. Harold found the fallen Nazi leader cooperative and willing to talk, even though he came to interviews with a big cape and unfurled [it] with great flair. Harold interviewed Goering for three and one half hours on one day and again on another. He later commented: "What a shame this man was involved in the Third Reich. If he'd been in a democracy, hed have been an outstanding politician. He had a very pleasing personality if you could forget the evil side of him".
           One of Harold Vedelers colleagues was Gustave Gilbert, a U.S. interrogator and psychologist who interviewed Goering at Nuernberg in 1945, when Goering admitted that

Of course the people dont want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether its a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in any country.

Paul Lutz

Paul C. Lutz was a Lutheran pastor in Lime Springs/Iowa when the United States entered World War II. Rumors began circulating in the small, mainly Welsh community about the German church and its German-language services, and Pauls allegedly pro-German views and supposed lack of patriotism. Later, Paul criticized local farmers he encountered in the local drugstore for gloating over the wartime rise in commodities prices. More accusations against the 38-year-old pastors presumed pro-German sentiment was one factor prompted him to enlist as a chaplain in the U.S. Army in 1943. He left behind his young wife to care for their five sons.
          An extensive tour of duty took him to Italy , France and Bavaria which Pauls immigrant grandfather had left in 1855. Near Munich , he toured the infamous concentration camp at Dachau . Along with providing pastoral care to U.S. troops for seven months after hostilities ended, Paul administered Holy Communion to homeless European refugees, acted as an interpreter between American officers and German government officials, and helped local churches recover art pieces that had been hidden away during the war.
          At the end of 1945 Pastor Lutz returned to the U.S. and accepted the call to serve a mostly German-American congregation in Renwick/Iowa. During the war German POWs from nearby Camp Algona had worked on area farms and formed close friendships with local farmers, including several of Paul's parishioners.

Harold Vedeler

the Lutzes

American Quakers in Nazi Germany

Nancy Parker and Gertrude McCoy | Leonard Kenworthy

The AFSC's Kansas-born, Iowa-educated director Clarence Pickett made fact-finding trips to Nazi Germany in 1934 and 1938 (notes courtesy of AFSC Archives):

his notes from
the First Trip

the Second Trip

The Pickett family posing with Eleanor Roosevelt (2nd from right), late 1930s
Kenworthy (right) with Berlin Quaker Center staff

THIS SECTION IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION:  Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth. Even the all-powerful Pointing has no control about the blind texts it is an almost unorthographic life One day however a small line of blind text by the name of Lorem Ipsum decided to leave for the far World of Grammar. The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question Marks and devious Semikoli, but the Little Blind Text didn’t listen. She packed her seven versalia, put her initial into the belt and made herself on the way. When she reached the first hills of the Italic Mountains, she had a last view back on the skyline of her hometown Bookmarksgrove, the headline of Alphabet Village and the subline of her own road, the Line Lane. Pityful a rethoric question ran over her cheek, then

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