« VorigeDoorgaan »
during the last fifteen or twenty years; nor in any part of the United States are there newspapers which cater for the English-born, or claim a constituency of immigrants from England. There are daily newspapers in all the larger cities which frame their editorial and news policies to secure support from Irish-Americans, and weekly newspapers existing exclusively on this support. Jews, Swedes and Italians have their own newspapers. Americans of all these races are clannish; but no race which in the last hundred years has helped to people the United States has shown such cohesion as the Germans, who, unlike the Irish, are settled in the rural areas, particularly in the Middle West, as well as in the cities from New York to San Francisco.
The Germans have been widely distributed in the United States for a longer time than the Irish; and, family for family, they are more prosperous and better educated than the Irish. Religion and political traditions are the cement of the Irish, but Irishmen are not held together by language as the Germans are. New-comers from Germany must have a newspaper printed in German. No other paper fills their need; and hundreds of
1 thousands of Germans, long in the country, and using the English language in business or the workshop and even at times in the home, continue loyal to the German newspaper.
German-American newspapers discuss American political questions from a German point of view. They usually have special correspondence by mail from Berlin and other large cities in Germany; and editorially as well as in the news columns more attention is given to Germany than in the ordinary American daily newspaper. These German newspapers, moreover, give constant attention to the doings of the German community; and especially to the musical, literary, athletic and trade societies and organisations which are so marked a feature of German-American communities, urban and rural. There are more German communities dotted all over the United States than of any
race, excepting, of course, the Anglo-Saxon. Clannishness and love of the language and the fatherland are the characteristics of these aggregations; and they are served by more than 800 newspapers, all printed in German. In cities like New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati and
St Louis, there are three or four daily German newspapers; and there is scarcely a city with a population over a hundred thousand that has not at least one weekly newspaper in the German language.
It is not pretended that these German-American organisations - newspapers, churches, clubs, 'sängerbunds,'turnvereins,' and other social institutions—were called into existence to aid the pro-German propaganda. Associations of this character are nearly as old as the advent of the German immigrant in the United States. Thousands of them, like many of the German-American daily and weekly newspapers, date back to the fifties and sixties of last century. But all this machinery was to hand and in good running order when war was declared. Some of it, there is reason to believe, had been overhauled and oiled in recent years in view of the war which Germans had so long regarded as inevitable. It was all available when Dr Dernburg went over in the early days of the war to direct the pro-German propaganda, to hold German-Americans together for Kultur,' and to persuade Americans that they had reached wrong and biassed conclusions as to the war because they did not know the facts, and because the British had cut the German-American cable, so that only the case of the Allies had reached the American press.
Had the war been confined to the German States and Russia—had Belgium with Great Britain and France not been involved-it is possible that by March 1915 Dr Dernburg might have reported a large measure of success in stimulating American sympathy for Germany. But Belgium confronted Dr Dernburg when he began his tremendous and thankless undertaking in the United States; and he, with Professors Münsterberg, Von Mach and Burgess, Mr Hermann Ridder of the New York Staats-Zeitung,' and other colleagues of Dr Dernburg in the press and on the platform, soon found that Belgium would not down. In the early days of the frantic campaign for American sympathy, the case put forward was that Russia had wantonly made an aggressive war on Germany, and that Germany was doing no harm when Russia, out of pan-Slavonic fury, assailed her; while, as regards Belgium and the violation of
neutrality treaties, it was asserted in the literature and by the speakers of the propaganda that Great Britain did not heed treaties when it suited her interest to disregard them. The South African war and an alleged violation of Portuguese East Africa were cited as proof of this, even after it was shown that there was no mention of Portuguese East Africa in the history of the war of 1899–1902 prepared by the historical section of the Great General Staff at Berlin. Some of Dr Dernburg's understudies became so confused over Great Britain's wrong-doing and her disregard of neutrality treaties that one of them told an audience at Carnegie Hall, New York, that during the Boer war Great Britain had invaded Portugal.
Germany's dread of Russia, as a reason for the war, made very unsatisfactory material for the platform division of the propaganda ; for the agents of this division, once on a platform, could not escape embarrassing questions from the audience. “If Germany was afraid of Russia,' it was asked at these meetings, 'why did she invade Belgium?' The road to Russia, it was suggested, did not lie through Belgium; and the German apologists were knocked over the ropes. At other meetings where Belgium would persist in obtruding itself, the champions of German 'Kultur’sought to persuade their audiences that Belgium had really no grievance against Germany, because Germany had offered to make good any material damage resulting from the temporary use of Belgium by the German armies, and had, moreover, given an undertaking that her active interest in Belgium would cease at the end of the war.
Dr Dernburg himself, who between September and the end of January covered more ground in the United States, addressed more meetings, and gave out more newspaper interviews than any lecturer or literary celebrity who ever did one-night stands in the United States under the auspices of Barnum or Pond, had a disconcerting experience at Amherst College, in connexion with this offer and pledge to Belgium. He was asked how Belgium was to know that Germany would keep her word. He had no answer to this question; and, when further pressed, he conceded that if he had been a Belgian he would have been in arms against Vol. 223.–No. 443,
Germany. Dr Dernburg, in arranging for platform engagements, usually restricted the range of the questions to be asked of him; and, with the extreme courtesy towards the platform-to chairmen as well as speakers that characterises American public discussions, the restrictions were generally observed. But American college students, accustomed to quizzing' professors, are not so easily kept in hand as audiences at century and get-together' clubs or political and social academies. At Princeton University Dr Dernburg evaded questions that might have been embarrassing by intimating that he was not on tour to be catechised by undergraduates. At Amherst, he was apparently caught off his guard, and was obliged to abandon the claim that Belgium ought to have trusted the Kaiser.
Nevertheless the ground which Dr Dernburg so assiduously cultivated was not altogether unprepared. To begin with, there are Americans, even of AngloSaxon stock, who have long been jealous of England's control of the seas. Ever since the war began, expressions of this jealousy have occasionally occurred, in the papers. For instance, an editorial article in the Washington Post' of Jan. 13 remarks : • At this time, when Great Britain appeals to the sympathy of the American people in her fight against Germany, while calmly attempting to destroy American commerce, it behoves Americans to look the facts squarely in the face, and not to be misled by sentiment that is not based on truth. What England desires is to destroy the German fleet. That is her real objective. With Germany crippled on the sea, England does not care how strong Germany may be on land. ... Individual Americans place their sympathies where they please ; and many of them freely express their abhorrence of the acts which have laid Belgium waste and caused France to mourn. They may be violent in their denunciation of German militarism. But they are not thereby blinded to the aims and purposes of Great Britain. They see clearly the development of Britain's plans; and they are determined that the United States shall not be made a cat’s paw of the island kingdom.'
This passage bears traces of the influence still exercised by the text-books of American history used in the high schools and colleges until some twenty years ago.
It is clear that there is some survival of the old-time dislike of Great Britain, due to their treatment of the Revolutionary War, the war of 1812, and the attitude of Great Britain during the Civil War of 1861–1865. This feeling has found expression at times in American newspapers which dare not risk their reading constituencies by openly espousing the cause of Germany. But the old dislike and hatred of England had almost disappeared before the beginning of the present war; and there was consequently little ground ready to receive the seeds of Anglophobia which the pro-German apologists were eager enough to sow. There was no need to sow them among the Irish of the A.O.H., or the German-Americans ready to endorse all that Germany has done since the ultimatum to Serbia was sent from Vienna—a city sometimes described by New Yorkers as the 'up-town office' of Berlin,
Even before Germany openly turned her propaganda to the gospel of hatred for England, there were indications that the pro-German campaign in the United States was nearing the end of its usefulness. Belgium had made it hopeless from the outset. No direct preaching of hatred of England marked the first six months of the propaganda ; but, from the first, pro-German platforms rang with charges of British perfidy as regards treaties, together with claims that Germany was as much entitled to a place in the sun as Great Britain, and with charges that England's participation in the war was due to her jealousy of the industrial and commercial expansion of Germany. When they were quibbling over the neutrality treaties of 1839 and 1870, or seeking to convince their audiences that the German Empire could not be bound by treaties made by Prussia, pro-German speakers could expect no success; for the American conviction since the war began is that, treaty or no treaty, the invasion of Belgium is the most appalling outrage recorded in modern history. But in pushing other pleas they had more chance, for American audiences, when they listened to the demand put forward on behalf of Germany for a place in the sun,' seldom asked where this place was to be--in Canada, Australia, Texas, or South America. They seemed to have a hazy idea that there are still unpeopled areas where it is