The United States in the World War

By John Bach McMaster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
PRO-GERMAN PROPAGANDA--BELGIAN RELIEF

THAT the people of the United States should be indifferent to the course of events in Europe was impossible. Their neutral rights, their sympathies, their prejudices; indignation over the brutal invasion of Belgium; admiration for the heroism of the Belgian people; hatred of England; good will towards England; grateful remembrance for French support in the War for Independence, detestation of German militarism, love for the Fatherland, ties of blood, race, nationality, a hundred motives forced them to take sides.

As the greatest of neutrals the attitude that might be taken by the people and Government of the United States was a matter of much concern to all the belligerents and to none more than to Germany.

No sooner, therefore, was the war fairly under way than Germans, German-Americans and pro-German citizens began the most remarkable propaganda ever made by a belligerent and its supporters to influence opinion in a neutral country. The press, the platform, and the mails were used without stint. Indeed a special agent, Dr. Bernhard Dernburg, late Colonial Secretary of the German Empire, was sent to do his part in the effort to convince Americans of the justice of the German cause. A Press Bureau was established at New York from which came pamphlets and leaflets, and "The Fatherland, a weekly devoted to Fair-Play for Germany and Austria-Hungary." Professors in many Universities, men who had lived in Germany, and had studied at her Universities, while declaring themselves devoted Americans, wrote and labored for the German cause. The German language press sided with the Fatherland. The English languages press though overwhelmingly proally, opened its columns to the expression of opinions by both sides.

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