Vintage Audio - Loyalty and German-Americans

James W. Gerard Click to download as MP3

Reproduced below is the speech recorded by the former U.S. Ambassador to Germany James W. Gerard in 1917 entitled Loyalty and German-Americans.

In spite of his pre-war diplomatic service in Germany Gerard was by no means an activist in campaigning for a rapprochement with the Central Powers.  To the contrary he was outspoken in demanding absolute commitment to the cause of crushing the German Army, and with it the Kaiser, Wilhelm II.

In November 1917 Gerard gave a notorious speech to the Ladies Aid Society in which he effectively questioned the loyalty of German-Americans residing in the U.S.  He suggested that firm action should be taken against such people were they to in any way question America's commitment to beating Germany.

Use the player above to listen to a recording of Gerard's speech from 25 November 1917 to the Ladies Aid Society.

Loyalty and German-Americans

I know that it is hard for Americans to realize the magnitude of the war in which we are involved.  We have problems in this war no other nations have.  Fortunately, the great majority of American citizens of German descent have, in this great crisis of our history, shown themselves splendidly loyal to our flag.

Everyone had a right to sympathize with any warring nation.  But now that we are in the war there are only two sides, and the time has come when every citizen must declare himself American - or traitor!

We must disappoint the Germans who have always believed that the German-Americans here would risk their property, their children's future, and their own neck, and take up arms for the Kaiser.  The Foreign Minister of Germany once said to me "your country does not dare do anything against Germany, because we have in your country 500,000 German reservists who will rise in arms against your government if you dare to make a move against Germany."

Well, I told him that that might be so, but that we had 500,001 lamp posts in this country, and that that was where the reservists would be hanging the day after they tried to rise.  And if there are any German-Americans here who are so ungrateful for all the benefits they have received that they are still for the Kaiser, there is only one thing to do with them.  And that is to hog-tie them, give them back the wooden shoes and the rags they landed in, and ship them back to the Fatherland.

I have travelled this year over all the United States.  Through the Alleghenies, the White Mountains, and the Catskills, the Rockies and the Bitterroot Mountains, the Cascades, the Coast Range, and the Sierras.  And in all these mountains, there is no animal that bites and kicks and squeals and scratches, that would bite and squeal and scratch equal to a fat German-American, if you commenced to tie him up and told him that he was on his way back to the Kaiser.

A "biff" was a Bristol fighter plane.

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