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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Anti-German hatred among Americans as WWI begins; lynchings, riots, prejudice abounded

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, many in the USA exhibited anti-German attitudes. Newspapers ran cartoons that vilified the Kaiser and his soldiers and allies. Yet more than 1/3 of Americans were of German descent.
If cartoons in magazines and newspapers were the most visible, other actions showed American fear and bias toward the British and French.

Riots broke out in many cities. In Chicago, one man was hanged on suspicion of being a German sympathizer.
In my own German-American family where my father's family were 3rd generation Americans and where they spoke German, my grandfather warned his children to speak only English outside the house. My father remembers clearly that among his friends who were German-Americans, they had this warning, too.

While much of this editorializing might be understood as an effort by the government to propagandize the war effort—and gain support financially from the citizens, it is also a representation of what happens to people's emotional predisposition when attacked or when war seems to be the most viable solution to a political problem.

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