In the 1920s and 1930s Americans thought of Hitler as a joke. His shrill voice and jerky hand movements made it difficult to take him seriously. But some of the first people to meet him didn’t feel the same way.
Junior military attaché Truman Smith said, “This is a marvelous demagogue who can really inspireloyalty.” Karl von Wiegand was the first American journalist to interview Hitler in 1922. He felt the same way as Smith. They were both struck by Hitler’s oratorical skills and his ability to drive people into a frenzy.
The Nazi Party finally emerged as a major contender for power after the great depression hit, but Americans still considered Hitler to be a clown. Most people believed that if Hitler gained power, German politicians would take control of him. Reassessments unfortunately came soon thereafter.
Chicago Daily News correspondent Edgar Mowrer frantically tried to warn readers worldwide, saying, “What he’s saying about the Jews is serious. Don’t underestimate him.”
American correspondents in Berlin were living in relative luxury. The good correspondents and diplomats worked hard to gather information, although it was becoming progressively more difficult and dangerous to obtain.