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Eruption of anti-German hysteria in WWI wiped out German culture in the US 

By Erik Kirschbaum
via the High Plains Public Radio web site

f766k1gAnti-German sign, Chicago, 1917 (Library of Congress)Hi, my name is Erik Kirschbaum and this is a story about a dark – and forgotten chapter of U.S. history.

Long before Americans ever had a taste of “freedom fries” there was a brief era a century ago when hamburgers were changed into “liberty steaks”, sauerkraut was turned into “liberty cabbage” and Americans got sick with a disease renamed “liberty measles” instead of “German measles”.

That might sound funny in 2018 but it reflects a traumatic chapter of US history 100 years ago. The eruption of anti-German hysteria that wiped out German culture in the US shook an increasingly divided country as it drifted into the war in Europe. The giant German ethnic minority that had long been such an important, influential, and integral pillar of fin-de-siècle society came under sudden attack from jingoistic Americans determined to do their part “over here” in the fight “over there” against Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany.

The hatred and even violence against German-Americans came out of the blue. It was a reaction to their efforts to keep the United States neutral and out of the war in Europe as well as to their ability to preserve so much of the German culture, language, pride and traditions that they had brought with them across the Atlantic.

It is well known that the US entered World War I in April 1917 and the “doughboys” played an important role in helping to win it in 1918. But less well known is what happened to all those German-Americans.

Read the entire article on the High Plains Public Radio web site:

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