The Carl Schurz Society was created in Berlin after World War I to restore friendly German-American relations.1 From its beginnings in 1926, the organization "introduced American visitors to a Germany of high culture, economic prosperity, and republican stability."2 With the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, however, that mission changed: the organization was then transformed into an outreach agency meant to introduce the "New Germany" to Americans.
Featured here is a selection of a film documenting a month-long trip through Germany in the summer of 1934 attended by professors, students, and administrators from 26 American universities.3 The film illustrates how the German authorities presented Nazism as a national campaign of cultural and economic renewal. Although the film served as a souvenir for the trip's participants, it was also a recruiting tool for students eager to have a study abroad experience. The American group was treated to receptions hosted by dignitaries, academics, and politicians. Their hosts projected a vibrant, cultured, and technologically advanced image of Germany under National Socialism.
Upon their return to America many participants praised the "New Germany" in the press.4 This positive account of the Third Reich, however, was not always well received. Even before the group departed, a New York Times headline announced "Nazis to be Guides for American Group," explaining that "[v]isitors to Soviet Russia have long been familiar with this type of tour."5 The Jewish Daily Bulletin of New York characterized the participants as "deluded" and as unknowing participants in a Nazi-funded propaganda campaign meant to downplay the strength of antisemitism in Germany.6 Despite these criticisms, the 1934 trip become the model for a series of annual, fully funded trips for between 40 and 75 American students until 1939. By 1940, the Carl Schurz Organization became the subject of an FBI investigation for funding the activities of German spies. In the the midst of World War II, the organization was disbanded.