'Only a Phase'
How Diplomats Misjudged Hitler's Rise
Wednesday marks the 80th anniversary of Hitler's rise to power in Germany. Correspondence from foreign diplomats in Berlin at the time reveals the extent to which they underestimated the dangers of the Nazi Party.
"The political situation now is so complicated and is subject to so many psychological factors that it is impossible to make any definite forecast," George S. Messersmith, the United States consul general in Berlin from 1930 to 1934, wrote in a dispatch to the State Department on Feb. 3, 1933.
ÂFour days earlier, Reich Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher had been dismissed just weeks after his election. His replacement was Adolf Hitler. "It may, I believe, be accepted," wrote Messersmith, "that whether the Hitler regime lasts for a few months or for a longer period, it is only a phase in the development towards more stable political conditions and that this government will be followed by one which will show greater elements of stability than any which Germany has had for some years. The people are politically tired."....