Anti-German Hysteria

Essay by sammyg014High School, 11th gradeA-, May 2004

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World War One's geopolitical significance is seen as the realignment of political powers in Europe and the emergence of America as a world power. Closer to the American home front were the seismic cultural and social shifts spawned by the Nativist tendencies. Nativism is the supposedly patriotic fervor leads inhabitants of longer standing to discrimination against newly arrived immigrants. Conflicts between these two groups dealt with issues including religion, traditions, jobs, language, and educational philosophies. Nativism was particularly prevalent in large U.S. cities, where large and varied immigrant groups lived in close proximity to one another. A well known flowering of nativism was in New York City during the 1850's and 60's, wherein established Americans vented their frustrations against newly arriving Irish immigrants. A recent illustration of this is Martin Scorcese's film The Gangs of New York.

Cincinnati, although during a different time period and concerning different groups of people, was not immune to the virulent nature of Nativism.

In Cincinnati, the largest immigrant group was the Germans, with their own language, religion, social, and cultural traditions. The Germans were a very powerful group in Cincinnati dating even back to the earlier parts of the 1800's. By 1910 the two most popular German-American newspapers had a combined circulation that exceeded 92,000. (Tolzmann, Great War, 14). However during WWI, German influence dwindled due to the mass anti-German hysteria that swept the country. Many aspects of not only German life but also Cincinnati changed due to negative effects of Nativism.

The migration of Germans into Cincinnati was not an overnight process; indeed, the earliest signs of immigration can be dated back to the early 1800's. The influx of Germans into Cincinnati during these earlier time periods was much less drastic than that of the later 1800's. In 1820, the German population numbered...