Most immigrants pertained to America for new economic opportunities or spiritual freedom. Part came seek refuge while countless were carried here versus their will.

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In the 19th century, the joined States received some 5 million German immigrants, plenty of of whom resolved in the Midwest to buy farms or come to be tradesmen and professionals in cities. By the at an early stage 1900s, they to be the largest immigrant group in the country and had end up being highly respect members of their communities.

But that readjusted when the United claims entered human being War I. Patriotism and also paranoia swept through the country, and also German-Americans suddenly found themselves the targets of intense scrutiny.

Some the the country’s reaction to German-Americans seem practically farcical in hindsight. In the same way that french fries came to be “Freedom Fries” 15 years earlier — when the French federal government withheld support for U.S. Military action in Iraq — sauerkraut ended up being “Liberty Cabbage” and also hamburger was called “Liberty Steak” during people War I. Frankfurters to be renamed “Liberty Sausage” prior to they became plain old warm dogs.

And the backlash didn’t stop in the grocery store store.



The new York Times, April 25, 1918.

Newspapers started to report outbreaks that German measles together “Liberty Measles.” Dachshunds were referred to as “Liberty Pups,” and German shepherds ended up being “Alsatian wolf Dogs.”

Saloons eliminated pretzels from your bars, and also the temperance motion began, in part, as a protest against “Continental Sundays,” a German legacy revolving around outdoor concerts, picnics and also beer, i beg your pardon bothered plenty of Protestant teams that supported “Blue Laws.”

The music of Bach, Beethoven and also Brahms disappeared native music programs. Colleges stopped teaching the German language, and also German-language papers started to press in English rather — or merely shutting down.

The U.S. Government passed espionage and also sedition laws. Numerous Americans were encouraged, or even forced by unlawful means, come buy bonds called “Liberty Loans” to support the battle effort.



A 1917 poster created by the United states Printing & Lithographic Co. Urged Americans come buy Liberty loan during civilization War I. (Library of Congress)

The Councils of nationwide Defense urged citizens to perform patriotic duties, and the American Protective organization sussed out suspected German spies and sympathizers.

In Iowa, Gov. William Harding approve the so-called “Babel Proclamation,” banning the use of international languages in public, schools, church or end the telephone. The Iowa towns of Germania and also Berlin readjusted their names, respectively, come Lakota and also Lincoln.

Of every the German-Americans living in Iowa in ~ the time, however, nobody were much more scrutinized 보다 those in Davenport and Scott County.

Called the “most German” of cities in Iowa, Davenport had actually attracted an ext than 40,000 come Scott County because the 1850s. In ~ the outbreak of human being War I, in between one-quarter and also one-third that the county’s 250,000 residents were that German descent.

“You have actually all these an excellent German-Americans in Davenport who have actually helped the neighborhood thrive and grow, and also then you gain U.S. Entry right into the war, the draft and the demonization that those same people,” said Leo Landis, Iowa’s state curator, who dubbed Davenport the “premiere flashpoint” of anti-German sentiment in Iowa.

Davenport’s German-Americans were often accused of gift disloyal to America and also were hauled before the Scott ar Council of national Defense on tips from anonymous accusers. Countless were ordered to salary money to the Red Cross, acquisition “Liberty Loans” or join patriotic institutions to assistance the allied cause.

A few German-Americans in Scott County had their houses or businesses painted yellow, a color linked with disloyalty. Some citizens were dragged right into the street or public square and also forced come kiss one American flag and proclaim your loyalty. Some were beaten. Others to be marched the end of town.

At Davenport High School, students protested and also burned an ext than 500 German-language books, maps and also pictures of the Kaiser that had been eliminated from their library.

The German-American Pioneer Association came to be the Old inhabitants Association, and also the German save Bank, which German immigrants founded in 1869, to be renamed the American Commercial to save Bank.

In a front page statement ~ above Sept. 7, 1918, a very successful everyday German language newspaper dubbed Der Demokrat said it would certainly cease publication because of anti-German prejudice.

Before the war, German society thrived in ~ Davenport’s Schuetzen Park, which boasted one inn, dance hall, zoo, bowling alley and also a roller coaster that drew up to 12,000 civilization in a solitary day for major events. However the park adjusted its name to forest Park during the war. Civilization stopped visiting, and also the park closeup of the door in 1923.

These events and also others had actually a long-lasting impact on German heritages in Iowa.

The happen of older generations and also the natural loosening that ties to the Old World began long before 1917, yet the battle years increased the Americanization of German-Americans in Iowa.

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Later generations established less v their German roots, and also many Iowans stopped speaking the German language. Eventually, many German heritages faded into the broader sweep that American culture.