How were things German perceived by Americans during World War I?

There was a definite anti-German sentiment felt by Americans during the First World War.  German Americans were seen as too sympathetic to the German Empire, and in some cases accused of being in league with them.

Germans were viewed as uncivilized, brutish, and violent. When Kapitänleutnant Walter Schwieger sank the Lusitania (which was carrying American passangers) with his U-boat, it confirmed anti-German agitators’ notions that they were, indeed, brutal.

German Americans risked being fired from their jobs, losing their businesses, and being physically assaulted on the streets.  Those who vocally opposed the war were thrown in prison.  The Red Cross refused to take in those with German last names.  With all of these threats surrounding them, German Americans began to hide their culture and language.

Not only did some German Americans Americanize their names during this time, but Americans renamed German objects in society.


Sauerkraut->liberty cabbage

Hamburgers->liberty patties

German measles->liberty measles

American libraries removed German literature from their shelves. Ohio, and other states, burned German books, and President Theodore Roosevelt urged schools to remove the German language from their curriculums.

The Boston Beethoven performances were banned because of his background, and the German born conductor of its orchestra was also forced to resign.