As much of the world’s leadership was not sure what to think of the emerging Nazi movement in the 1920’s through the 1930’s, Truman Smith clearly saw the dark potential of a Nazi led Germany. From 1920-1924, Smith served as assistant military attaché in Germany. While serving, Smith was the first American diplomat to interview Hitler. Smith reported on the manipulative sway Hitler had over the masses, as well as the danger the world could face if Hitler gained power. Smith returned to Germany later in his career and served as head military attaché from 1935-1939. During this stay, Smith orchestrated a wildly successful scheme to utilize the aviator Charles Lindbergh’s fame in order to gain intelligence on German air technology.
Together, Smith and Lindbergh provided the United States with unprecedented intelligence on German military build-up; however, Smith’s reports were almost entirely ignored by the Roosevelt administration. A diverse combination of domestic political factors contributed to the poor reception Smith’s reports received. Most notably, Smith’s reports conflicted with Roosevelt’s plan for the United States. In addition, negative consequences from Roosevelt’s personal rivalry with Lindbergh flowed through to Smith. An examination of Smith’s story offers a clear example of how domestic political agendas clouded decision making in the United States government leading up to World War II.
Semester/Year of Award
Restricted Access Thesis
Accounting, Finance, and Information Systems
Shearer, Sam H., "Truman Smith’s Reports on Nazi Militarism: A Study of Domestic Political Priorities and U. S. Foreign Policy-Making in Franklin Roosevelt’s First and Second Terms" (2013). Honors Theses. 133.