Saturday, November 27, 2010

Did the Brueggemann's face Discrimination during WWI?

By Feb. 4, 1918, all German males 14 and older in the United States who were not naturalized were required to register as alien enemies with local authorities. President Woodrow Wilson issued the proclamation in November 1917 as the United States entered World War I against Germany and its allies.
The German Alien Registration Act required that each "alien enemy" be issued a registration card, which was to be carried at all times. At their registration, they were photographed, fingerprinted and questioned about their personal habits. The government ordered them to get permission to travel or change residences.
Ohio later passed a law prohibiting teaching the German language in public schools. In Cincinnati, where 58 percent of residents were of German heritage, an ordinance was passed changing German street names. German-language books were removed from library shelves, one-third of the city's German-language newspapers folded and German teachers were fired.
Rebecca Goodman

 Dr. Peter C Merrill,, Department of Languages and Linguistics, Florida, Atlantic University
On the eve of World War I, German-Americans were divided in the way they viewed the Kaiser. The majority were probably carried along by the wave of German nationalism, but the Kaiser also had his critics. Foremost among these were the Socialists, who were opposed on principle to militarism and who had been the target of oppressive anti-Socialist laws in Germany in the 1880s. German-American Catholics, like Catholics in Germany, could not forget the "Kulturkampf," the struggle between Bismarck and the Catholic Church. Missouri Synod Lutherans were also inclined to mistrust the imperial German government, which they vaguely associated with the liberal theology of Adolf von Harnack. To the pacifist American Mennonites there was nothing at all to be admired in the militaristic spirit that pervaded modern Germany. After all, the Mennonites, like the other Anabaptist sects, were strictly opposed to bearing arms and, having been persecuted for their faith, had few feelings of cultural attachment to Germany

It is my guess that it was a tough time for all Brueggemanns.  I think it was particularly hard for Rev. Ernst August Brueggemann.  At this time, he was a publisher of a German Language newspaper.  From what I've been told, the paper folded and he was unemployed.  I think it was at this time that he dropped the final "n" from Brueggemann.  I know there was also some discord in the family about serving in the Army but I will cover this in another post.  The war time must have been hard for all Americans but it must have been particularly hard for our German American ancestors.

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