This August I will be presenting my lecture
Four Roads in the Garden of Beasts: Appeasement, Collaboration, Resistance and Dissent in Nazi Germany
through the CSU-East Bay Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In the Garden of Beasts is Eric Larson’s 2011 book about U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his family’s time in Germany from 1933 to 1937. The Garden of Beasts is a loose translation of the Tiergarden, Berlin’s version of Central Park, around which much of the political and diplomatic action of Larson’s book takes place – and is, of course, a metaphor for the general state of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s.
U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his family
arriving in Hamburg in July 1933
When the Dodds arrived in Germany, storm troopers were beating American tourists on the streets and Jews were increasingly the target of brutal violence and tightening social restrictions. Dodd arrived in Berlin holding the Antisemitic notions typical of America at the time—expressed rather simply by his daughter, Martha (who unbeknownst to her father was a Soviet spy), “We sort of don’t like the Jews anyway.” But first-hand experience of the Nazis convinced Dodd they were an increasing threat, and he resigned in protest over his inability to mobilize the Roosevelt administration, particularly the State Department, to counter the Nazis prior to World War II.
But how did others in Germany and abroad respond to the Garden of the Beasts? They took one of the 4 roads: appeasement, collaboration, resistance and dissent. This lecture will take a short drive down each of those roads.