19. Kennedy attempted to negotiate a payment in gold to the Nazis
In May, 1939, Kennedy met with Helmut Wohlthat in London. Wohlthat was a highly placed Nazi official and the Chief Economic Advisor to Reichsmarshal Herman Goering, then the second highest ranking Nazi official in Germany, after Adolf Hitler. Kennedy had previously learned from James Mooney, General Motors Corporation chief overseas director, that during a meeting between Mooney and Wohlthat the latter had expressed Germany would be open to an arrangement through which trade between the United States, Germany, and Great Britain could be normalized. The arrangement was contingent upon a loan to Germany in gold.
Washington rejected the notion out of hand, but Kennedy, no doubt relying on his belief in his business and negotiating abilities, was intrigued. Though FDR had already rejected the plan, Kennedy arranged to meet with Wohlthat. They met secretly in London on May 9, and Wohlthat returned to Germany, undoubtedly conveying the results to Goering. As a result of the meeting, British agents began spying on Kennedy, concerned that he was a Nazi sympathizer and in league with German financiers. No further meetings were conducted concerning the loan of gold to the German government.