US Embassy Paris 1937

Carey Rowland
2 min readSep 20, 2022


Here is a scene from chapter 21 of my 2015 novel, Smoke.

The year is 1937. Philip Morrow, the story’s main character, is a young American doing business in Europe. In this scene, he accompanies the Hezekin family to the US Embassy in Paris. Having fled Munich, the Hezekin family feels fortunate that they have escaped the increasingly oppressive Nuremberg Laws, although they were forced to leave their deli business behind. They are fraught with discouragement because their son, Heinrich, is still imprisoned in a place called Dachau.

Being interviewed by a Mr. Breckenridge, a US State Department bureaucrat, the Eschens answer questions about their meat business in Munich, which they hastily abandoned when an escape opportunity had suddenly bee made available to them.

“And where is Heinrich now?”

“He is in Dachau prison,” said his mother, beginning to display her grief.

For the first time, young Mr. Breckenridge leaned back in his padded chair with a relaxed demeanor. He swiveled slightly in his swivel chair. He glanced at the wall behind them, looked up at the ceiling, tossed his pencil on the papers. He looked directly at Philip, then at Hezekin. Slowly, he said, “So I suppose this is why you have no dossier from the German police? If there is a dossier on you, it probably will be of no benefit to your cause.”

“What difference does it make? Hezekin asked, sincerely. “The police in Munich are now criminals. They are controlled by the SS!”

“Surely, Mr. Breckenridge,” said Philip gently, “this is not the first case of this type that you have seen.”

“No. We can see from here what it is happening in Germany. But we do have rules.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Philip. “But I bet your rules were written before the National Socialists stole the government of Germany from the German people. So, perhaps, Mr. Breckenridge — what was your first name?”


“So perhaps, Lou, it is time that the U.S. State Department change its rules pertaining to political refugees, to reflect what is actually happening here and now in Europe.”

“Easily said, Mr. Morrow, easily said. But that would require an Act of Congress.”

“I think not. If you look into this, you will probably find that these restrictions are administrative rules that have been promulgated by people in your own State Department.”

Lou looked sideways toward the man behind the next desk. “Hey, Earl,” he called.

The man redirected his attention away from his own dutiful inspections. “Yeah, what?”

“This requirement for the good conduct form — how long has that been on the visa list? And is it from Congress, or administrative?”

“Ya got me, Lou. Ask Larry.”

But Larry, in the third desk, was listening. “I don’t know Lou, but it is still a rule. You know that.”




Carey Rowland

Author and Publisher of 4 novels: Glass half-Full, Glass Chimera, Smoke, King of Soul; 1200+ blogs, musician, songwriter, poet, 43-year husband and father.