The U. S. Government has not felt it necessary to explain to Germany the social and economic discrimination against Negroes throughout the South. But Germany has been at some pains to explain to the U. S. its attitude toward Jews. Last week a Congressional investigation committee in Manhattan belatedly revealed that the Nazis had hired to interpret the Swastika to the Stars-&-Stripes none other than that most celebrated of pressagents, Ivy Ledbetter Lee.
Newshawks sought out prosperous, middle-aged Pressagent Lee, found him at Baden, Germany, when the House Committee inquiring into "unAmerican activities" within the U. S. made public the testimony he had given it in executive session last May. Mr. Lee, by whom John D. Rockefeller was metamorphosed from a corporate monster into a benevolent old philanthropist, told the committee that he had for years been public relations counsel at $3,000 a year for the U. S. affiliate of Interessen Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie, the great German dye trust. Last year, when Hitler came into power, the home office of I. G. Farbenindustrie retained Mr. Lee at $25,000 per year, "because they were very much concerned about the beginning of the boycott and wanted to know what could be done and what influence they could exert with their Government." Inasmuch as I. G. Farbenindustrie was one of the two early and potent backers of Adolf Hitler* and inasmuch as "the German Government has assumed pretty thorough control of private business," the committee got the impression that Mr. Lee might just as well have been retained by the Reichskanzler himself.
Last January, said Mr. Lee, he went to Germany "just to size up" Herr Hitler and his associates. He outlined a statement on armaments which was subsequently released in the U. S., suggested that a German spokesman be sent to the U. S. to explain the new Germany. "I have told them repeatedly," testified Mr. Lee, "that . . . the dissemination of, the organization of, German propaganda in the U. S. was just a mistake and futile. That it was bad business. That complete reliance should be placed on getting news to the American people through normal channels of publicity. ... I told them that there were certain policies which Germany had [on Jews] which were bound to antagonize American public opinion and to attempt to secure favorable American opinion toward them—such attempts would be futile and, in the second place, objectionable. ... In the very beginning I stipulated that there should be no dissemination whatever by me of information in the U. S. . . . I never distribute anything for clients in my name. My position is that every client of mine must tell his own story and do his own job in a responsible open way. . . ."
The committee wanted to know if Germany was the first foreign country for which Mr. Lee has acted as press spokesman in the U. S.
"Well," said he, "I had a relationship some years ago with the Polish Government and with the Rumanian Government. . . . Those relationships were in connection with the distribution of information following the issuance of certain loans."
Mr. Lee's contactman in Germany, he revealed, was his son James Wideman Lee II. Princeton, 1929, recalls "Jim" Lee as a tall, personable youth who helped edit the Daily Princetonian. Now 28, he is paid $33,000 a year for handing his father's counsel and significant U. S. newspaper clippings to I. G. Farbenindustrie, which hands them on to the German Government.
In Berlin last week young Lee resented being called "a go-between for anybody." Cried he: "Father's $25,000 contract with the German dye trust calls merely for giving his best advice on methods of improving German-American relations. This is a perfectly business-like contract."
No U. S. Jew wails louder about Nazi anti-Semitism than Samuel Untermyer. In Philadelphia last month that orchidaceous Manhattan lawyer told an audience at the Metropolitan Opera House and the nation-at-large by radio that pious Adman Bruce Barton (The Man Nobody Knows) was "the recognized paid agent of the German Propaganda Bureau." Mr. Barton sent his attorney around to see Mr. Untermyer and last week quick-spoken Mr. Untermyer was down on his knees with a full apology, a complete retraction. "Remarks of that kind," he wrote Mr. Barton, "travel so fast that when they are incorrect it is almost impossible to catch up with them, but if you feel there is anything else you would like to have me do, I shall be more than pleased to comply with your request, in common justice to you and myself."
*The other: Steel Tycoon Fritz Thyssen.