James W. Gerard (1867-1951), attorney and diplomat, was an outspoken critic of Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews.
Gerard, who served as U.S. ambassador to Germany from 1913 to 1917, spoke at a number of anti-Hitler rallies in the 1930s. He was a speaker at the May 1933 founding conference of the American League for the Defense of Jewish Rights, which spearheaded the boycott of German goods. “The gentiles in this country are for you,” he declared. “We are with you in this fight for humanity…You have to show your power an you have to do it in an economic way.”
Gerard’s strong anti-Nazi stance sometimes landed him at the center of controversy. In 1934, he agreed to participate in a public mock trial of Adolf Hitler in Chicago; but under pressure from Jewish associates, who were acting at the behest of White House aides and the U.S. ambassador in Berlin, William Dodd, Gerard withdrew. In 1940, Gerard was scheduled to speak at a rally organized by the militant Revisionist Zionists in New York City, but cancelled on the advice of his “Jewish friends.”
Gerard also served as Honorary Chairman of the Bergson Group’s July 1943 Emergency Conference to Save the Jewish People of Europe.