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ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES


Hard Times in Illinois, 1930–1940

A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives


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DOCUMENT 20
LETTER FROM THE U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE CONCERNING THE GRAF ZEPPELIN
October 19, 1933





Explanation

The Graf Zeppelin paid a visit to Chicago on October 27, 1933 to celebrate the Century of Progress exposition which was being held there (see document 18 explanation). Adolph Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. He removed his country's delegations to the World Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations on October 14, 1933. The Nazi Party's most hated political opponent at home was the Communist Party.

The Graf Zeppelin and the Hindenburg, both German airships, were the most impressive and luxurious mode of air transport of their day. As such they were used by the German government as ambassadors to display German accomplishment and prestige. The Graf Zeppelin regularly ferried passengers between Germany and Brazil until the Hindenburg exploded in Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937 and commercial airship traffic ended.

Points to Consider

Why had the U.S. secretary of state written the governor of Illinois?

What was the Graf Zeppelin?

Why was there a "possibility of a Communist attack on the airship"?

Describe the German government of October 1933.


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