Inferences of loyalty from ethnic background
Deliotb at AOL.COM
Fri Sep 14 15:18:14 PDT 2001
My impression is (1) that during WWI, a far larger percentage of Americans of
German descent were born in Germany, or had parents born in Germany. German
Americans were not yet well-assimilated, and they even had networks of
private German language schools, so they made clearer targets in WWI.
(Interesting aside: some of the Jewish newspapers in the midwest at the time
still published in German, and had pro-German editorial policies, even though
the wave of Jewish immigration from Germany, which brought the Brandeis
family among others, had long since peaked)
(2) America declared war on Germany in WWI, the reverse in WWII. And the
German government is WWI was on average no worse a regime than our allies in
WWI (such as czarist Russia). Not surprisingly, WWII era German Americans
were much more supportive of WWII war efforts than of WWI war efforts.
(3) German Americans of the WWI era faced the suspicions attendant on being
"hyphenated Americans." By WWII, ethnic prejudices among whites has
diminished much more than had racial preferences.
(4) Despite later myth-making, most Americans in WWII thought our primary
enemy was Japan, who had attacked us, with the European theater more of a
sideshow. Paul Fussell's book Wartime suggests that if the average American
grunt had been asked in WWII why we were fighting, the answer would have had
little to do with protecting freedom and democracy, and more to do with
avenging Pearl Harbor. Moreover, we starting fighting the Japanese
immediately, but we didn't invade North Africa and Italy until what, around
I would be interested in other thoughts.
In a message dated 9/14/2001 2:08:08 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
ssiegel at CONDOR.DEPAUL.EDU writes:
> But also, in discussing these matters with students this week, I was
> reminded of the anti-German response during WWI, a response that led to
> the banning of German language instruction and the Meyer v. Nebraska
> case. My impression is that German-Americans, or residents of German
> heritage, fared worse during WWI than during WWII. This strikes me as
> somewhat counterintuitive, given how much greater the threat was in WWII,
> not only to America but to Western civilization. Is there any reseach or
> thoughts on why this was so?
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