Propaganda & Exaggeration

I am convinced—and I have been and heard a lot already—that what we have heard of Germany is two-thirds propaganda and exaggeration, and much of the rest is misunderstanding….
– Carl Helmecke, 1937

Dr. Carl A. Helmecke was born in Braunshweig in Germany in 1890. He came to the United States in 1902, and lived with his family in Norwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati. A few years later, the family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Carl attended the University of Michigan. He earned his Master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1913, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in German language and literature. In 1937, while head of the Languages Department at Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, he took a sabbatical in Berlin, where he encountered pre-war Nazi Germany.

In a letter of October 25, 1937, he wrote to his parents explaining how his time in Berlin had been. He assured his parents that he was being well accepted and was having a good time. He also assured them that he was free to move around the city as he pleased. He appeared unworried about any rumors about the Nazi government and assured his parents that it was all just “propaganda and exaggeration.”2

An invitation Carl Helmecke received while in Berlin with a prominent Swastika on the front.

[gview file=”” height=”800px” width=”100%”]

Carl Helmecke’s October 25, 1937 letter.