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Q: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When?
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: probonopublico-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 01 Jan 2004 04:03 PST
Expires: 31 Jan 2004 04:03 PST
Question ID: 292051
And how many (if any) German civilan staff were employed there in 1940?

Request for Question Clarification by answerfinder-ga on 01 Jan 2004 07:25 PST
Dear probonopublico-ga 
I have the full information on the closure of the embassy in Berlin
and have found evidence of a German member of the staff, but sadly, no
figures. The information comes from the memoirs of the First Secretary
and Third Secretary who both complain of the lack of staff (with some
other useful background information on the embassy at that time). One
refers to his German Jewish secretary. Would this be acceptable as an

Clarification of Question by probonopublico-ga on 01 Jan 2004 08:44 PST
Hi, Answerfinder

Absolutely perfect. Go for it.

And very many thanks, Freddy, for your useful link.

And a Fantastic New Year to you both (and everyone else).

Subject: Re: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When?
Answered By: answerfinder-ga on 01 Jan 2004 09:43 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear Bryan,

The ambassador was withdrawn on 16 November 1938. The Charge d'Affair
was then responsible for US interests in Germany.
On 11 December 1941 Germany declared war on the US. All staff were
ordered to report at the embassy at 8 a.m., 14 December 1941. There
they found it occupied by the Gestapo. They were all then interred
until April the following year.

The First and Third Secretaries in the embassy at that time both refer
to the small number of staff. Some of the staff including secretaries,
were American citizens, but there is one reference to a German Jewish
Secretary. There is also mention of the fear of microphones and
conversations being overhead, so German nationals must still have had
access to the building at this time and would be suspected of planting
them (my thoughts).


Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum
"Relations with Germany also suffered as a consequence of Nazi
behavior at home. On November 16, 1938, for example, U.S. Secretary of
State Cordell Hull recalled the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Hugh R.
Wilson, in protest over "Kristallnacht" -- the Nazi pogrom against the
Jews. The Germans responded in kind, and from this date forward, until
the German declaration of war on the United States on December 11,
1941, matters at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and the German Embassy in
Washington were handled by the two nation's respective Charge


US State Department ? Ambassadors to Germany
"Name: Hugh R. Wilson 
State of Residency: Illinois 
Foreign Service officer 
Title: Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary 
Appointment: Jan 17, 1938 
Presentation of Credentials: Mar 3, 1938 
Termination of Mission: Left post, Nov 16, 1938 
Note: Commissioned to Germany. 

Note: During the period 1938-1941 each of the following served as
Chargé d?Affaires ad interim: Alexander C. Kirk (May 1939-Oct 1940)
and Leland B. Morris (Oct 1940-Dec 1941). Morris was serving as Chargé
d?Affaires ad interim when Germany declared war on the United States
Dec 11, 1941."

From the web site: Traces
"TRACES is a non-profit educational organization created to gather,
preserve and present stories of people from the Midwest and Germany or
Austria who encountered each other during World War II."

The life of George F Kennan.

George F. Kennan, first secretary to the ambassador in Berlin from
1939 to his internment in 1941 and release five months later. (Kennan
later became a successful post-war diplomat and writer)

"....he soon discovered that the U.S. embassy in Germany ?was faced at
that moment with formidable administrative problems for which the
department had made no adequate provisions.? Besides attending to the
concerns of U.S. Americans in Germany and representing Washington in
the German capital, the embassy had accepted many of the former
responsibilities of the French and British embassies: ?the protection
of their nationals, their diplomatic property, their prisoners of war,
and the tasks connected with the exchange of their official personnel.
And in addition to this? Kennan noted, ?there were many new problems
affecting American interests themselves.? In short, the U.S. embassy
became overwhelmed by the diplomatic concerns and duties of war."

"....Under such conditions the U.S. embassy?s job of executing its
myriad duties became nearly impossible. Kennan commented that ?getting
night-duty personnel back and forth between their homes and the
embassy and in meeting couriers and other travelers who arrived at
night at remote suburban stations [as long-distance trains had
discontinued service into the city after the British began bombing
Berlin] can easily be imagined. They were heightened by the fact? he
complained, ?that when the war began the embassy possessed not a
single official vehicle, nor would the government buy it one.?
Instead, Alexander Kirk, the embassy?s charge d?affaires
?contemptuously? purchased with his own money a Renault and a small
luggage trailer."

And on the closing of the embassy

"....On Sunday morning, 14 December all staff and their families
collected at the embassy ?only to find the building, inside and out,
already guarded by members of the Gestapo, and ourselves their
prisoners.? Then, the entire assemblage moved by bus and rail to Bad
Nauheim, near Frankfurt am Main."

Some of his letters for this period appear at

Kennan wrote several books and the answer may appear in his memoirs.

Sketches from Life by George F Kennan 
"Early diary entries fitfully record his bleak stays in Berlin and
Moscow in the 1930s and '40s" (extract from the review of the book)


Truman Library

Oral History Interview with Perry Laukhuff, third secretary, American
Embassy, Berlin, 1940-41

"My secretary in the Embassy was a German woman who was a Jewess and
whose bitterness and despair day-by-day grew deeper and were terribly,
you know, sad. She disappeared during the war (after we left). I'm
sure she and her husband were taken off to be liquidated. No one ever
knew what happened to them. I think without exception, at the Embassy,
we were tremendously anti-Germany and pro-Allied, but of course, we
didn't show that in our official dealings so much."

"We had allied real estate all over Europe from Norway to Greece, to
try to handle by mail and see that there were caretakers and the
property was taken care of and the bills were paid and all that sort
of thing, and it was a hopeless job; we had a very small staff to deal
with this."


Leipzig Consulate

However, as U.S.-German relations deteriorated in the late 1930s and
World War II spread across globe, the Nazi authorities ordered the
closure of the Leipzig consulate general, which shut down on July 10,

I hope this answers your question. If it does not, or the answer is
unclear, then please ask for clarification of this research before
rating the answer. I shall respond to the clarification request as
soon as I receive it.
Thank you and best wishes for the New Year.

Search strategy
"Leland Morris" embassy
"Leland Morris" germany
berlin "embassy" us war 1941
germany "embassy" us closed 1941
and others on the specific names.
probonopublico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Hi, Answerfinder


I had come across George Kennan previously without realising that he
had worked at the Berlin Embassy or that he was such a prolific

Also, I hadn't appreciated the situation in the Embassy vis-a-vis the Nazis.

Thank you ever so much!


Subject: Re: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When?
From: fp-ga on 01 Jan 2004 04:38 PST
Hi, Bryan

Perhaps this "List of U.S. Ambassadors to Germany" may interest you:

All the Best for 2004,
Subject: Re: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When?
From: answerfinder-ga on 01 Jan 2004 10:22 PST
Thank for the tip, and allowing this to be my 200th answer!
Subject: Re: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When?
From: hlabadie-ga on 01 Jan 2004 12:15 PST
Text of the diplomatic note handed to the Department of State by the
Germans on Dec. 11.

Note that Atherton anticipated that it would take several months to
exchange missions.

German Declaration of War with the United States : December 11, 1941

Subject: Re: Closure of the US Embassy in Berlin (WW2)... When?
From: probonopublico-ga on 01 Jan 2004 22:04 PST
Hi, hlabadie

Fascinating link.

Many thanks.


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