George S. Messersmith: Diplomat of Democracy

Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987.
Author: Jesse H. Stiller

Jesse Stiller, whose primary research on Fleetwood native and United States career diplomat George Messersmith was based on the collection of Messersmith’s personal papers located at the University of Delaware Library, wrote:

Messersmith’s career affords insight into the many personalities and global crises that he encountered. As U.S. consul general in Berlin from 1930 to 1934, he witnessed the Nazis’ rise to power, warning from the beginning that Hitler represented a threat to Western civilization. A lonely advocate of cooperation with the Soviet Union against the Fascist menace, he endured ostracism by the Department of State. Later, as assistant secretary of state, he continued to agitate for unpopular causes, meanwhile fulfilling a personal mandate from Roosevelt to promote the democratization of the State Department.

Typed letter, George Messersmith to Mr. Secretary [Cordell Hull], August 20, 1938.
From Ms 109 George S. Messersmith Papers

Messersmith repeatedly wrote government officials to warn of the inevitability of war. Based on confidential intelligence from powerful and well-placed Germans, Messersmith conveyed danger of “the real aims and objectives of the present German Government.”

Typed memorandum, George Messersmith to Senator Key Pittman, September 1, 1938.
From Ms 109 George S. Messersmith Papers

In this confidential memorandum to Senator Pittman, George Messersmith warned of the seriousness of the international situation, “the most serious crisis since 1914.” He correctly predicted Hitler’s intentions in Czechoslovakia, France, England, Belgium, Holland, and Denmark. Messersmith wrote, “Ambitious as this program may seem, even mad as it may seem, my own personal opinion has been for some years, and remains, that there can be no peace in Europe as long as this present Government remains in power in Germany.”