Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hält die Klappe und Geh Raus!

Sprechenback Saturday continues last week's discussion of the push in the U.S. to repress all things German during World War I. I got somewhat distracted toward the end of last Saturday's post, so I'm going to get the distraction out of the way right off the bat today with a cartoon about Prohibition.
"Not a Drum Was Heard" by Burt Thomas in Detroit News, May, 1918
Indiana approved state-wide prohibition of alcohol on April 2, 1918, followed by Michigan on April 30. While Burt Thomas's cartoon features ward heelers lamenting the loss of their occupation and restaurateurs fretting that they must now provide quality food, what I want to point out is that John Barleycorn's casket is adorned with a beer stein and pretzel. And I suppose that's a bottle of liebfraumilch.

Before the war, cartoonists tended to portray the evils of liquor using Demon Rum or Wicked Whisky. Associating booze with the hated Hun, however, would soon facilitate passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Increasing voting rights for women and shifting revenues from alcohol excise taxes to federal income taxes were also significant, but our topic today is animus toward German-Americans.)
"No Compromise" by Archibald Chapin in St. Louis Republic, ca. May, 1918
Even in German enclaves such as St. Louis and Cincinnati, there were drives to force German language out of the public sphere. Streets, hospitals and entire cities changed their names: Germantown, Nebraska, for example, being renamed Garland, for a local soldier killed in the war. There were contests to find a more Amurikin word for sauerkraut, although the name "liberty cabbage" didn't last as long as actual sauerkraut does. A Massachusetts doctor tried to get German measles renamed "liberty measles" ... but it didn't catch on.
Detail of "Saluting 'Cincy, the Queen City of the West'" by Manuel Rosenberg in Cartoons Magazine, July, 1918
It is a shame that neither the Milwaukee Journal nor Milwaukee Sentinel employed editorial cartoonists of their own at this point in history, because I would have liked to see the sort of reaction they would have drawn to all this Germanophobia. The Journal played up Teddy Roosevelt's May 29 visit on Page 1, at which the former president called for an end to "all societies, social, political, or any other" based on European heritage. That included ethnic churches (the norm for American Lutherans, Catholics, and some smaller denominations) and, of course, newspapers.
"I wish we could provide by law so that within a reasonable space of time, a space of time that will avoid unnecessary hardship, there shall be no newspaper published in the land except in English. ... If... treasonable or semi-treasonable matter is published in a newspaper in another tongue, people do not know that the poison is being instilled at all."
"Beware the Snake" by J.E. Murphy in San Francisco Call-Post, May 13, 1918
Of course, if Milwaukee had paid any heed to Mr. Roosevelt's "campaign against the hyphen," its summers would not be anywhere near as fun.

Roosevelt's advice appealed to Sidney Greene, possibly one of the most strident Germanophobes to sling ink; his cartoon drawn after Roosevelt delivered much the same speech in New York appeared here last week.
"Marooned" by Sidney Greene in New York Evening Evening Telegram, June 2, 1918
Suspicion of foreigners from whatever country one is at war with has always been fairly commonplace, and the Great War was no exception. And certain spectacular acts of German espionage had gotten cartoonists' attention, so you can't categorize all the anti-German immigrant cartoons as entirely baseless. Yet Greene seems to have been particularly anxious for the censorship of German-language media, returning to the topic again and again.

"How Long Must We Stand for This?" by Sidney Greene in New York Evening Telegram, June, 1918
On May 16, 1918, Congress passed the Sedition Act as an amendment to the 1917 Espionage Act, criminalizing "insulting or abusing the U.S. government, the flag, the Constitution or the military" by speech or publication. (Since I discussed Teddy Roosevelt above, I should mention that he opposed passage of the Sedition Act.) Although the government used the law to go after International Workers of the World union leaders and a few German-American businessmen, it never used the law to prosecute any German-language American publication for collusion with the enemy.
"Drop It Now" by Sidney Greene in New York Evening Telegram, June, 1918
But what, you may ask (go ahead, I'll wait), about the other side of the coin?
"Time to Abolish Everything That Is Foreign" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, May 25, 1918
I have not been able to locate Kaiser Wilhelm's speech about abolishing everything foreign, although I did find a satiric poem about it in the American Punch magazine. Whether the quotation is accurate or not, I have no doubt that it was reported in the American press (along with the reports of German soldiers tossing Belgian babies into ovens and infecting Red Cross blankets with pathogens), and it does seem to reflect the Kaiser's policy throughout his reign of promoting German cultural identity in his empire.
"Una Colazione Andata a Male" by Sirti in Il 420, Florence, May 12, 1918
"No other language permitted except German" proclaims the sign on the wall in this Italian cartoon. France, Italy, England and the U.S. present gold to the German at the table, whose feet rest on "International Law" and a "Directory of Mankind"; neutrals, Serbia, Montenegro and Belgium hunt for scraps in the foreground amid torn-up treaties and the skulls of Justice and Liberty.

Monday is Memorial Day, which did not escape cartoonists' notice in 1918, and it won't escape mine now. At roughly this time, Cartoons Magazine noted the death in action of Boston cartoonist Herbert Wolf, known for his cartoons of military camp life, and that of pilot Gordon Levy, son of cartoonist Bert Levy.
"When a Feller Needs a Friend" by Clare Briggs for Red Cross, May, 1918
American newspapers observed a week of emphasis on the Red Cross in late May, and the Committee on Public Education's Bureau of Cartoons must have promoted the image of a soldier tangled in barbed wire, because a number of cartoonists used it. "When a Feller Needs a Friend" was a regular feature of Clare Briggs's usually light-hearted, folksy cartoons for the New York Tribune.

(A bit of cartoonist-military trivia: Briggs's math professor at the University of Nebraska was John J. Pershing, later U.S. commander of the Western Front in the war. "I believe he will testify that it was easier to conquer Germany than to teach me math," Briggs said later. "One day he ordered me to the blackboard to demonstrate a theorem, and while I was giving the problem a hard but losing battle, he remarked: 'Briggs, sit down, you don't know anything.' Right then and there, I decided to become a newspaper man.")

The Chicago Tribune's John McCutcheon was inspired to draw the cartoon below upon the death of  Major Gervais Raoul Lufbery, 33, a famous French-American flying ace in the Lafayette Flying Corps with a reputation for coolness and daring. "Luff," as he was known throughout the U.S. Army and French Air Service, was a recipient of the Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor, Ten Palms, and Médaille Militaire, plus four British medals and one from Montenegro.  He was shot down over France on May 19, 1918.
"The Fallen Ace" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, May 21, 1918
According to newspaper reports,
"It was after six American aviators had attacked in vain yesterday that Maj. Raoul Lufbery took the air back of the American sector north of Toul against an enormous enemy biplane, a few seconds later to leap from his machine as it burst into flame and drop to the Earth.
"This type of  'flying tank,' it became known here today, is practically invulnerable to the bullets and machine guns now used by American flyers.
"So it was in a hopeless struggle that America's foremost ace lost his life, after his bullets had rattled harmlessly off the armored German machine."
Lufbery was buried with full military honors with high-ranking French and American officers in attendance. After the war, Lufbery's remains were moved to the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial near Versailles as a permanent monument to the 68 American pilots and their French officers who lost their lives during the war.

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