James H. Rowe, Jr. to Franklin D. Roosevelt (May 14, 1941)
THE WHITE HOUSE
May 14, 1941
Possibly this idea is crudely amateurish; probably a number of people have already though of it. Certainly there are a number of "ifs" involved — the "ifs" of sanity, of good intentions, and of truth. But it might be worth trying.
The flight of Rudolph Hess has captured the American imagination as has nothing since the flight of the lamented Lindbergh. It may only be a seven-day wonder but the "man in the street" today regards it as a wonder.
No amount of conversation about economic penetration of South America or Nazi trade wars, or even the necessity for survival of the British navy seems to have convinced the American people, particularly the middle and far West, that this country is in danger from the Nazis.
But if Hess were to tell the world what Hitler has said about the United States, it would be a headline sensation. The people would begin to wake up. Recollection of the unpleasant Zinovieff letter indicates the possibilities. I am suggesting, of course, only that Hess make such a statement if it is true — which it is.
If the idea is worthwhile, it should be done soon, while the American people are fascinated. It certainly should not be included with a great number of other things, such as Hitler's rapprochement with Russia, the economic conditions of Germany, etc. It should probably be done with American newspapermen present; otherwise the Nazis — as they already are beginning to do — will recreate the American suspicion of British propaganda.
I know you and I think Churchill can see the possibilities; I doubt if the professional career servant will.
But, if there is anything to the idea it should be done in the next day or so; otherwise it will not be believed.
James Rowe, Jr.