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Arthur Goodfriend Papers

Oral History Transcription: Tape I, Side B: August 5, 1997
NOTE: AG = Arthur Goodfriend; JY = Jason Yamashita; ST = Shari Tamashiro
Can we talk a bit about your experiences in Germany while you were traveling around, especially seeing Hitler?
Well, again there's an element of element of chance, of good fortune or bad fortune as the case may be in almost...In my first trip around the world, which is in 1935, I was working then for the, among, our other clients, I was working for The New York Herald Tribune. And The New York Herald Tribune provided me with a press pass. And so when I arrived in Japan I was invited to the Emperor's garden party, and so on I was there in the...Met the Emperor of Japan, Hirohito on, in a garden party and it was a lovely day. I was wearing a rented outfit. I was wearing a high hat and swallowed tail coat and a gray vest and stripe pants and spats on my shoes, and so on. And everything was very wonderful until it started to rain. And we couldn't leave until the Emperor left. He was protected by a tent. So he was dry. But I, outside the tent, was being drenched by this downpour. So that what happened was when I returned my rent outfit they would not return my my deposit because everything was sadly shrunken, so on and so forth. So that really started World War II. But that was the beginning of my meeting Hirohito in Japan, meeting Mahatma Gandhi in India, meeting Stalin in in Moscow, meeting and then in then arriving in Berlin when Adolf Hitler was making one of his great speeches in the Sportpalast in Berlin. And having my press pass and showing this to the authorities, and so on. I was lead up to the platform and was sitting as close to Hitler as I am really not quite a little more distant than I am from you. But just a few feet away from me was this man getting up and making one of his tremendous speeches that aroused Germany to the to the, a condition where it reached out to dominate the world. And this man was a magnificent orator. There's no doubt about it. You, it started out with a whisper. A very, very soothing voice saying nice things about Germany and so on and so forth. And then little by little his voice, pitch rising in pitch and in fury and in fervor when he started attacking Jews and attacking Communists and attacking Socialists and attacking English and the French, and so on and so forth. And this man had the power to take this audience and arouse it to, by, to a fever pitch that even I could sense. With my limited knowledge of German, I could feel the passion that he was able, that was spoken. Rome Mussolini had this same ability and I was, in a position to actually be there with Mussolini as he made his great speech. And I could see the shadows, I could see the the...menace of World War II coming in as these as these men spoke. ST: How did they make you feel? I mean, what was running through your mind? AG: Well, I felt I felt...I have to admit, dazzled by their oratory. They, these were consummate orators. They had tremendous ability. They knew their audiences and they knew exactly what their audiences want want to hear. A German, he was in a desperate condition economically. And he had the answer to that by getting rid of the Jews and getting rid of the foreigners, and so on, and putting Germany, German people back to work. Building the Autobahns, the the...bringing Germany back to life after its defeat in World War I. So he had a great program, Mussolini too. And I like others were, was impressed by their ability. But on the other hand, felt an enormous sense of menace. [ ] I could see that this man, these men were provoking a war that on, that the United States could not really escape and that I, a reserve officer, by the way, in the United States army...because I got my commission in college...that I would be I would be involved in it. And it transpired. It worked out just exactly exactly that way. But again think of the think of the of the strange circumstances. Here I was on a job. This is my, earning my living as an observer of of commercial opportunities in Europe and around the world, and so on. Cause I was being sent out to these places by various clients who wanted me to send back all the evidence of what men wearing, something great manufacturer hats with Stetson hats Stetson hats. Or I was assigned by Stetson to send back all the hats that I could, men's wear from all over the world. That meant from Turkey - they got fez's. And from India they got, all of the hats of different tribes, and so on. Great, great opportunity to travel and to learn and to earn money, and so on. So out of this job came these opportunities to to encounter history as history was being made.
And that takes up this first journal?
Yes, that's right. Now it's one o'clock and so I think you people have worked too hard.

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