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Dr. Julius Lippert, the Nazi state commissar for Berlin, spoke at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in that city on this date in 1935 and called upon the U.S. business establishment to put an end to the “Jewish boycott” of Germany, which had resulted, he said, in damage to American farmers and manufacturers. Lippert was a participant in the assassination of Foreign Minister Walther von Rathenau, and was known in the Nazi Party for his passionate anti-Semitism and his friendship with Joseph Goebbels. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise responded to his speech with a cable to the Chamber of Commerce that described the boycott as “a spontaneous reaction of the American people of all faiths and races to Hitler terrorism against all groups in Germany.... Jews form only small percentage of many millions refusing to do business with Nazi Germany.” The American boycott of Germany had begun with a March, 1933 rally in Madison Square Garden to protest the Nazis’ rise to power; the Nazis had responded with a boycott of all Jewish businesses in Germany, which led some American Jewish leaders to express fear that the American boycott would harm Germany’s Jews. Nevertheless, the American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith, the Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, and Jewish leftwing organizations all supported the boycott, which successfully cut German exports to the U.S. by an estimated 10 percent.
“Any Jew buying one penny’s worth of merchandise made in Germany is a traitor to his people.” —William W. Cohen, Jewish War Veterans