In September 1915, German-Americans still perceived as lesser Americans

Published by carolyn on Sat, 2019-03-09 14:45

Here is the excellent Edmund von Mach again, speaking to the very issue we've been discussing here at, re our specific European ethnic identification, or lack of it. I was going to post an article or two about the “Money Trust” next, but when I read this I just had to post it first. Von Mach manages to stand up for what is German without ever seeming too partisan or un-American. He is quite a scrupulous character, while remaining honest and penetrating.-cy

Oswald Garrison Villard, pictured circa 1910-1920, was editor of the New York Evening Post and a civil rights activist, a founding member of the NAACP. Oswald was born in Wiesbaden, Germany; his father Henry Hillgard had immigrated to the US and invested in railroads and newspapers.

v. 3 no. 8    September 29, 1915    Page 14


By Dr. Edmund von Mach, Author of “What Germany Wants”

Mr dear Mr. Villard:

In an address delivered in Stockbridge on September 4th, you are quoted as having pointed out with great forte and regret what appears to you to be “a movement to make our citizens of German descent a body apart from the rest of our citizenship to the detriment of America. In substantiation of your charge you quoted a book by Professor Julius Goebel and the resolutions recently adopted by the National German-American Alliance in San Francisco, and proved your case—provided one grants the accuracy of your interpretation.

There can be no doubt of your sincerity. The tenor and noble tone of your address, and even more your character and life's work guarantee this. But you are mistaken in seeing a danger to the United States in the vivid remembrance of their old home, language , and literature, which the world war has forced upon the Germans and the descendants of some other nationalities in this country.

If one may judge by your remarks and your father's step, of which you approve, of changing his good German name Hillgard to Villard, you believe that America is an Anglo-Saxon country tinged possibly with French ideals, and that the immigrant who wishes to serve his new home well must leave behind him what is best in his own character, thanks to the work and belief of his ancestors. Being in Rome, he should do as the Romans do. He should become indistinguishable, assume an Anglo-Saxon name, forget the German lullabies, to which you touchingly refer, but which no longer stir your heart. Your father did a man's work. You too have earned the reputation of a good American. It would, therefore, be nonsense to deny a certain justification to your views. Nor can there be a doubt that countless Germans in the past have consciously or unconsciously acted by them. There is a glamor about the American phase of Anglo-Saxonism from which the German immigrant finds it difficult to detach himself. But, as the late John Bigelow once counselled the writer, “Be yourself, young friend! Do not imitate anyone. What America needs is men, whole-souled men!”

And, Mr. Villard, I claim that only in exceptional cases can people cut with the past as abruptly as your father did, and yet have something left to give their fellow men. In most instances such a procedure must mean spiritual atrophy.

The English language is best adapted to our everyday life, and is beautiful when it is used by masters of diction. English literature as a whole deserves the preeminent rank it has earned. English poetry appeals to the heart. But in spite of all this, there are depths of the spiritual life of every man of German descent which are only unlocked when German words or songs are heard. “Ah, what a sweet sound,” said Martin Luther, “is the German word liebe. I do not know whether other tongues can form a sound to thrill you through and through as does this German word: 'Du liebe Maria.'”

[Couldn't agree more. This one word and its usage and meanings can on its own prove that Germans are not militarists, murderers or barbarians, as the British portray them. For evidence, go here and listen to Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau sing “Gute Nacht” from Shubert's Winterreise. Only the German soul could produce such an experience as this. -cy]

This is the reason why the German language should be fostered among people of German descent. In no other way can you make available for the common weal the fulness of the spiritual character of these men and women. Much of the best thought of the world, moreover, has been written down in recent centuries in the German language. Translations do not preserve the whole flavor of the original, and nothing is more natural than that those who know German should wish to have their fellow citizens enjoy their own bilingual faculties.

This is the more important the closer the rivalry of the German-speaking and the English-speaking people grows. The number of Americans who can form their own unbiased opinion of any event by reading English and German newspapers is very small. The American press contains more than nine-tenths of the English news, and if it is accurate, it is so thanks to a truth-loving English censor. The American people, unable to read German papers, possess no means of checking it. In the editorial offices of your own papers, Mr. Villard, not even the official German Gazette is read. Assertions, therefore, are often made and accusations are brought against the German Government which are absolutely untrue.

What has the German language got to do with Kaiserism, as you would imply. Or our pride in Steuben and the other heroes of the Revolution with the antiquated Prussian franchise? And why do you mention this local franchise without saying that the franchise of the German Empire is the most liberal in the world, and in execution far ahead of that of the United States?

There is not one American citizen of German descent, member of the National German-American Alliance, who has not honestly taken his oath of allegiance and is not determined faithfully to keep it. But this oath does not bid him forsake German ideals of order under law and thoughtful care of the toilers and their orphans and widows. It does not bid him accept that most wicked of all maxims transplanted here from England. “The greatest good of the greatest number of people,” which literally means that 49 may perish in anguish if by their suffering 51 are made a bit happier, but which has worked out to mean that the wealth of the country belongs to a few who may thereafter dole some of it out as charity. This oath does not mean that because you contrast efficiency with self-government we should connive at the peculiarly Anglo-Saxon vice of graft.

One great error which the critics of the German element in this country often make is that they interpret the German resolutions to mean that the men who passed them are determined to carry them out by force. This is not so. Ours is a composite country in which the greatest good can be accomplished if each group does its own individual best. [I like this idea for the EU too -cy] Our resolutions are passed for the guidance of our own group, in the belief that it will enable its men to be whole-souled men and consequently more valuable citizens.


Page 12



IN the list of twenty-three experts, who have been appointed under [Navy] Secretary Daniels' [pictured left] non-partisan chaperonage to constitute the Naval Advisory Board, the inquisitive reader will look in vain for a name of German origin. Thus the Wilson administration again renders itself guilty of a deliberate insult to the 30,000,000 American citizens of German antecedance, and the New York Press, published by Frank Munsey—publisher of Munsey's Magazine, the Argosy, a railway magazine, and other publications of a character popular with chambermaids and chauffeurs—may claim a cheap victory in its anti-German campaign against Dr. Charles P. Steinmetz, the great electrical expert, who was prominently mentioned for membership on the Board.

But Daniels did not overlook his English friends. In the list is Dr. Joseph William Richards, born at Oldbury, England. We have not yet had time to examine the birth records of others, but doubtless we shall find other fellow-countrymen of Dr. Richards, while the stain of implied disloyalty is placed upon every American of German descent.

If this war does nothing else, it will lead to an awakening of the political consciousness of this element in American affairs and make it resent future attempts to have this country ruled exclusively by persons hyphenated with England and her colonies. If the German element is not waking up to the fact that it is treated as a negligible factor by the very individuals whom it helped to the position where they may exercise the power of insulting it, it is because it has no political self-respect, and in that case is deserving of all the indignities heaped upon it.

We are not advocating the drawing of racial lines, but such lines are drawn, and have been drawn for generations, by the Anglo-American hyphenates against citizens of German origin; never openly, it is true, but with the same insidious adroitness which Daniels has manifested in selecting his Naval Advisory Board, or whatever it is called. The [Naval Board] idea is a direct steal from the Germans, whom he professes to despise, but when it comes to putting it in practice he is careful to exclude any expert who bears a German name, and for that reason, probably, the great scheme will prove a fiasco. It takes German ability and genius for [an] organization to propagate a German policy in foreign soil.

Page 17

The English Agent

By Louis Viereck, Berlin correspondent

FROM the times of Leonidas and the Thirty Years' War, the view has prevailed that soldiers are necessary for waging war. This is also a peculiarly dominant opinion in Germany, and thus it is that the latter country is suspected of “militarism.”

In England they have a much better plan: The British plan for conducting war is not to employ English soldiers or the even more costly English war vessels to trail down and attack the enemy.

Their plan is not even acquainted with a theatre of war in the obsolete sense of a meeting place of two opposed armies or fleets. The scheme is to substitute for the soldier, the agent, and especially the agent active in foreign neutral territory. If there was really a pressing need of selecting a theatre of war in the old-fashioned style, the so-called “neutral” foreign territory was the preferable choice, as the agreements between England and Belgium of long standing before the present war abundantly demonstrate.

The main point, however, was to utilize the English agent properly. He is a very remarkable personality and deserves to be subjected once for all to a rather careful scrutiny. He is at home everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. First of all you find him at all the cable termini of the world and in most of the newspaper offices of the five continents. Then, too, this versatile gentleman wears the uniform of a censor of all neutral mails, customs and criminal courts. As long as Italy, betrayed and sold in every sense of the word, still pretended neutrality, the English agent sat in the Italian custom houses on the Swiss border and watched carefully, so that nothing might be delivered to Switzerland that could be further forwarded to Germany. But not alone in unneutral Italy did he ply his trade but likewise in countries that really wished to be neutral but which were most powerfully coerced in their freedom of movement by economic and commercial political pressure on the part of England. When Italy went over to our enemies openly, there was an inquiry from high German economic circles directed to Sweden requesting that power if it could furnish Germany with sulphur. To this request the answer was made that it was impossible as the entire export of Sweden was under the inspection of British agents. In view of the opening up of the Baltic by the German fleet and the consequent commercial and traffic security the only conclusion to be drawn is that an application of English repressive measures on Swedish commerce and general traffic in the various departments is feared, if the English agents are offended at the export of sulphur on the part of the Swedes.


Are you familiar with the lynching of Robert Prager?

Yes, but I'll bet most readers are not. He was actually lynched by an American mob in Collinsville, Illinois in 1918. The man was totally innocent of any crime. The eleven men who were tried for it were all acquitted!

If he had been a negro who was lynched for other reasons, or a Jew like Leo Frank, his name would be well known today.

The actual hatred stirred up against German-Americans because of WWI led to such an act. My next post will contain more of this abuse, because it only increased as the war continued. The English were damn pissed off at Germany-Austria for continuing to fight (and win) even when approx. 10 countries were arrayed against them!

There is so much to tell about WWI; I am only scratching the surface.

Today is Commonwealth Day in the UK and the royal family gathered in Westminster Abbey to commemorate it.

This article says the Commonwealth is comprised of 53 nations and 2.3 billion people, a third of the world's population !! Sixty percent are under the age of 30. I would also say most are not white, you think? What is the purpose of this?

What is the purpose?
I'm not sure that even I can answer that for you.  Every four years we have the Commonwealth games (like the Olympics.)  That's about the only visible thing that comes to mind.
There were moves some time ago to allow free movement of peoples with-in the "white" areas of the Commonwealth.  Ironic I think, as a German could for the longest time freely go to England for work, but an Australian or New Zealander would have to apply for a Visa.

" believe that America is an Anglo-Saxon country tinged possibly with French ideals"
So here in lies the flaw - or misrepresentation of what a "White" nation constitutes.  The USA, Australia and so on all had a White migration policy, but remain(ed) steadfastly attached to their Anglo-Saxon heritage.
What representation did the Germans have?  30 Million from Germany and all ignored.  Yet, they contributed greatly the wealth and well-being of the nation.  That's a bitter pill to swallow.
Similarly, thousands of German Australians were interned during both World Wars.  Many changed their family names in order to avoid abuse.  This is the sort of propaganda Australian's were subjected to:
And this...
What bold lies!
...And what has come of it?  Still, I am aware of articles in Australian newspapers about the shame of having an ancestor that fought "on the wrong side" in WW1.,-germans-dont-ig...
I don't mean to hijack your post Carolyn, but it seems that the more reasonable we are the more abuse we receive in return.  History repeats itself.

You're not hijacking anything. I'm grateful for this comment; I had never thought about it like this before. Yes, Germans are considered more as "guests" in an Anglo-Saxon country like the United States or Australia, and they have to mind their p's and q's or they are considered ingrates. This is the underlying reality though never expressed openly.

I have always honestly said that I never experienced (that I recall) any anti-Germanism growing up in my nice, white middle-America town. But I also felt not part of the "more American" people who all had more common "American" names that I know now were English, plus Scottish, Scandanavian, etc., although I was accepted everywhere. It was only a background realization that America was an Anglo nation primarily and they were the elite. I was always proud of being German, but in the way of German being #2 best, while British-connected was #1 best. My hometown was a white-collar town and very status oriented and Republican. My father was a Democrat so I was too through all that time, which was another 'difference.'

Bottom line: While Germans were accepted bc they were law-abiding and responsibly employed, the Germany of the two world wars was somehow evil and even demonic. This I never could accept, so I felt a little at odds with my own country and its people, beginning as early as 6th grade. I recall, in my classroom in that presidential election year of 1952, recognizing that I didn't feel real patriotism for the USA like I thought I was supposed to. What I felt was gratitude that I was born in the free-est country in the world, and the richest (as we were taught), but not love. Partly because I couldn't find my family in its history that we were studying that year. It wasn't there. My family history was somewhere else. And I've always felt this way ... feelings can't be changed by thinking or reasoning.

I totally agree with you that being reasonable and accepting about it does not correct anything. Things have to be brought out into the open and rationally discussed. It's the wealthy string-pullers, who benefit, who want to keep the 'people' subject to irrationality. I would love to see some ethnic Germans come together and air all these issues. Why not?

Hi Carolyn,
I apologise again for the late reply.
By now I'm sure you have heard about the news from New Zealand and the supposed Australian "WN" shooter who shot up two mosques.  I am only thankful that he seems to have distanced himself from National Socialist ideology.  After talking this over with some friends, I feel once again drawn away from any of this so-called "movement."
Incidentally, during this conversation, one "true blue" Australian I know made the comment that even before the end of "White Australia" policy in the late 60's that he was already living in a neighbourhood that was a pretty ecclectic mix of Europeans (Greeks, Yugoslavs, etc) so he was pretty much used to living with "other" people all his life. For him, the Chinese, Indians and all the others is just like adding another spice to the rack.
Just thought that would be an interesting data point, keeping in mind our previous discussions (re: WN vs Folkish Nationalism.)
Back to your post above - whatever happened to the Justice 4 Germans site?  It seemed that they did a very reasonable job of highlighting many of the issues we face.  Their blog went dead in 2015.
I quite liked their interview of English-Indian man, Frank Raymond.  He makes many lucid and salient points against the Holocaust ideology and the predicament of the "White" European homelands:
Anyway, thank you for telling me about your experiences growing up in the States.  I admit that other than a few minor incidents, for the most part Australia has treated me well.
It just doesn't feel like home anymore.  But maybe it never did.