History, Department of


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F. Luebke, Bonds of Loyalty: German Americans and World War I ( DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1974). Preface & Foreword.


Copyright 1974 Northern Illinois University Press


This book is an effort to explain why American society lashed out at its German element during World War I. Ever since colonial times, Americans had received German immigrants gladly and regarded them highly. Yet when the United States entered the war against Germany in 1917, people were swept into a strong wave of anti-German hysteria. Citizens of German origin were individually harassed and persecuted, German ethnic organizations were attacked, and serious efforts were made to eliminate German language and culture in the United States.

The crisis of war did not by itself create conflicts between the native-born and the German-Americans. Rather, war was the occasion that converted latent tensions into manifest hostility. For this reason little understanding is gained by identifying scapegoats, either German-American extremists, who allegedly provoked the government to repressive measures, or superpatriots, who by their immoderate rhetoric may have incited Americans to riot. Instead, one must search for the roots of the conflict in the varied social and cultural characteristics of the German immigrants and in their interaction over several decades with dominant elements of American society.

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