A Brief Address Delivered by
Carrie Chapman Catt
Annual Luncheon of the Women’s Division of the
American Jewish Congress,
Hotel Astor, New York City,
March 30, 1938.
There appears to be more madness per capita throughout the world today than has been known for some centuries. A scientific research to discover why this is so and especially why the same malady recurs again and again, like an epidemic, would be enlightening. But when the world goes mad, the situation calls loudly for something to be done about it, not for discussion.
What the Germans are now bent on doing to the world has been done before – not once, but many times. The German idea is, and always has been, enforced by an army and the only defense against it has been war. One comparison is astonishing in its similarity. A wild man, named Genghis Khan, came out of the Gobi Desert about 1210. He could neither read nor write and had never seen a map; however, he had an idea. The Mongols should rule the world! Had he been able to print a slogan, it would have been – One Reich, one people, one obedience, one Leader. The rest of the Mongols did not share this idea, so at the head of an army, he gave the idea to them and when they were all whipped into obedience, he led an army of 30,000 Mongols into China and onward. Every man rode a horse and carried a bow and arrows. Not a man among them knew where they were going or the name of any of the people they were expected to conquer. In time, the great Mongol Empire controlled half the known world and was ruled by the descendants of the original Genghis. In the process thirty nations had been subdued and eighteen millions of people brutally massacred, but the idea was never lost. The Mongols shall rule and one man shall lead.
Seven hundred years later another man came forward with a remarkably similar idea. The methods are now modern. Poison gas, airplanes, and submarines have replaced the bow and arrow. By subsidy, he claims to have added more than a million children to his population – soldiers to be and mothers of fighters. Sixty thousand Austrians have been added to the German army by a thoroughly modern bluff. A plebiscite [possibly referencing the 1938 German parliamentary election, which resulted in the public approval of a completely Nazi Reichstag and the annexation of Austria], which laughs to scorn every democratic principle, will soon endorse all that has been done. Another mad Fuehrer, with an army at his back, is abroad in the world. One Reich, one people, one leader, is his aim.
The new Germany wants only obedient Germans for its citizens. However, it wants to rule all Germans wherever they live and to break their loyalties to the lands of their citizenship. The leader has said that God helped him in the recent Austrian maneuver. Yesterday, der Fuehrer is reported to have said in his Berlin speech: “I cannot believe there is a German living anywhere who is not captured by the idea of a community of the German people. Who can wonder if all Germans, wherever they live are affected by it!” Meanwhile, the Storm Troops [either Stormtroopers in the German army or Sturmabteilung, the pre-SS Nazi paramilitary wing] sang – not the old “Deutchland Uber Alles,” but a new song, “Tomorrow the whole world will belong to us.”
What shall be done about this modern, astonishing Genghis Khan? Despite the fact that most of the people of the world are Morons, (that is, endowed with twelve year old intelligence) we ought to meet this situation with more common sense and wisdom than similar problems have received in the past.
The first answer comes from our own Department of State. Secretary Hull proposes an International Committee to assist the unhappy men, women and children so cruelly driven out of Germany and Austria to find a new refuge. The idea is glorious. The best of the people in every nation, I believe, will welcome a quota of Jews, Catholics and Protestants too if need be, to make their homes among them. Once we had an abundance of room and to spare in America, opportunity without limit, homes, work, and freedom for all. Now it is said we have twelve millions of unemployed, two varieties of Trade Unions are struggling with each for priority, employers are timid and doubtful. This is not a prosperous time, the outlook is not promising and already voices have been uplifted against receiving more population when our own is not well cared for. These conditions may arouse anti-foreign and even anti-Semitic feelings. This must not be.
On the other hand, the refugee from Germany, and probably from Austria, does not come willingly and gladly. Driven out of the land where he and his forefathers have lived for generations, he is not permitted to leave freely, to liquidate his property, and take his assets with him. He goes forth moneyless, hopeless, humiliated. To ease these conditions and aid the new committee, suppose the United States Government sets the pace and offers for the purpose the temporary services of a small fleet of War Ships. They are of little use, just now, and this would be a peace-maneuver. Advertise far and wide that this country can accommodate a fixed number of Jews, properly estimated, adding Catholics and Protestants if there is need, and that she offers free transportation to this number. Let the newcomers be invited, not merely permitted to come. Heretofore we have merely opened the door, allowing those who wished to enter. Advise Germany of the plan, the ports, and the dates when the ships will come to gather the new citizens. Let the bands play and the flags fly when the battleships go and come on this errand of peace and mercy. Make the newcomers welcome.
The ships need not go empty either way across the Atlantic. Advertise widely and smartly from ocean to ocean in order to find those Germans who, according to Adolph Hitler, “Have been captured by the idea of a community of the German people” and offer to them all a free passage of return to the Fatherland. The only reservations would be: (1) no passport to return, and (2) the same financial conditions the Germans have fixed for departing Jews; that is, the major portion of property and bank accounts of the departing Germans would be retained here. The funds so procured would apply upon the total cost of transportation. Such a plan would give happiness to a great number of people, those who go and those who come, and it would be a most commendable act of the only nation in the world whose specialty has been freedom for the oppressed. It would be a shame for Americans to be frightened or put to flight by a new idea. To some this suggestion may seem facetious. I do not mean it so. The nations should be united at the beginning in a protest against the pauperizing restrictions put upon the Jews. Since they did not do so, then bolder policies are now necessary before further exploits are made by the German idea.
Let no man or woman think that a committee can do all the work necessary. Let every one find a place for a newcomer. All we should ask of these new citizens is to respect our five liberties; free speech, free press, free assembly, religious and political liberty. There is a difference between free speech and paid propaganda. Our liberties do not permit our land to become a headquarters for the propaganda of other countries. The good American, wherever born, of whatever race or religion, will believe in democracy, practice it, teach it, and will never put his only faith in any one man.