Hitler's Threat

In 1938, Roosevelt broadcast a personal appeal to Hitler, asking him to halt further aggression. In reply, Hitler ridiculed the president with withering sarcasm.

Transcript

Trude Lash, Roosevelt Family Friend: Both the President and Mrs. Roosevelt would talk a lot about what went on. He would say, "Every time one gives in to Hitler, his ambitions become greater and he wants more." And I think the President felt that, in the end, a war was unavoidable.

David McCullough: But Roosevelt's hands had been tied by Congress and a cautious public. Desperate to do something, Roosevelt broadcast a personal appeal to Hitler, asking him to halt further aggression. In reply, Hitler ridiculed the powerless president with withering sarcasm.

Adolf Hitler (archival): Mr. Roosevelt demands that German troops shall not attack the following independent nations: Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt.

Robert Dallek: In essence, he was being told by Hitler, "You're not a player in this world political game. We don't count you for very much, and we know that you've got a big political headache. Your isolationists are not going to let you do anything. You have all these neutrality laws. If we go to war against Britain and France, you're not going to have a significant say in things." And it, I think, deepened his frustration. He knew it. He knew Hitler was right in that sense, at least for the moment.

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  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH

  • Additional funding for this program was provided by

  • NEH