The Role Of German Immigrants During World War I

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Throughout the Industrial Revolution, many Germans immigrated to the United States in search of a new life. By 1830, 37% of the population spoke German, making it the most commonly spoken language after English. Yet the German immigrants ' ability to coexist with the rest of society was made especially difficult from the late 19th century to World War I. Scholars and authors can agree that American sentiment towards Germany and German-Americans shifted quite rapidly from being tolerant to fearful in some way or another. However, there are different outlooks as to what directly spurred these changes the most. Some scholars argued that foreign relationships and intense imperialistic views were the leading cause of tensions between the two countries, …show more content…
John III, Burton, Margot Opdycke Lamme, and Jacquie L 'Etang also agree that the media did play a big role in influencing American viewpoints especially throughout World War I. More specifically, the three scholars argue that atrocity propaganda, which portrayed German cruelty through illustrations, was what most effectively spurred Anti-German sentiment. At the time, American newspapers depended on the British media for their stories on Europe. Great Britain saw fabricating German atrocities for American newspapers as an advantage to the war because England was trying to get the United States to enter the war. British media companies that took every chance to twist the truth or exaggerate the barbarism of the German race in order to inspire Americans to fight in the war and ultimately, to help England win. "Honest, unbiased news simply disappeared out of the American papers along about the middle of August, 1914." People were manipulated into believing that German soldiers amused themselves by cutting off the hands of Belgium babies, or of the future possibility of syphilitic Germans raping American women. Noncombatants such as women and children, also known as "innocents," were also used in propaganda that was designed to shame men into enlisting in military services. The image of innocents being in danger was very successful in pressuring the men in families to fight in the war. Even though there was no evidence to support the stories brought forth by …show more content…
Teachers who taught German or were of German descent had to redefine their attitudes and agendas to show their commitment to Americanism. Being anti-German became a way of showing patriotism for the war effort, and some German teachers had to go against their own culture to encourage German hatred. Many teachers were also fired, while some schools banned the speaking and teaching of German altogether. German flags in classrooms were torn down and trampled on, while German books in schools and libraries were thrown out and burned. Scholar J.D. Deihl claimed that many children were taught to despise Germans at an early age. The effectiveness of these changes in attitude was seen across schools in the United States because students began to refuse to learn anything related to the German language or culture. According to Deihl, "the only satisfaction either pupils or teachers [got] from the German classes […was] when they translated into German some such phrase as 'Damn the Kaiser

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