Ohio History Journal

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14






Instructor in American History. Ohio State University.

In April 1917, when the war cloud settled over America,

most of the German-language publications in this country found

themselves in an extremely embarrassing position. To the very

last, they had opposed America's entry into the war. To them,

it seemed that Germany's cause had been grossly misrepresented

by an Anglicised press, and the German contention that the

Fatherland was waging a purely defensive war against envious

neighbors had been so skillfully presented, that, to the sym-

pathetic soul of the German-American, it seemed extremely

plausible. The editorial tone of the greater part of the German

press in this country, in spite of occasional criticisms of the "ar-

rogant, dull and blundering" Junker class that directed Ger-

many's foreign policy, remained consistently pro-German. The

glorious victories of German arms, on land and sea, were cele-

brated on the first page. Then the war came to America. A

change of front became necessary as a matter of self-preserva-

tion. Without it, complete suppression, or prosecutions for dis-

loyalty could hardly have been avoided. The first few months

after the declaration of war-the transition period-are by

all odds the most important and the most interesting in the recent

history of Ohio's German-language newspapers. It is during

these months that the editors performed the mental gymnastics

that have finally landed them in their present position. This

transition period was a period of bewildered readjustment, of

conflict of emotions in the hearts of many German-Americans,

and of the shifting in the editorial point of view of their papers.

The writer has found it impossible to make anything like a thor-

* This article is based on material collected by the Historical Com-

mission of Ohio.