1918 October 11

New York City Women Destroy German Language Phonograph Records


World War I anti-German hysteria reached absurd depths as a group of women in New York City destroyed German-language records on this day. The nationwide anti-German feelings led to the elimination of the teaching of German in schools, dropping the works of German composers such as Beethoven by symphony orchestras, and changing the name of sauerkraut to “liberty cabbage.” Many German-Americans, fearing vigilante attacks by people who assumed they were pro-German, anglicized their names.

On April 9, 1919, Nebraska passed a law forbidding the teaching of German. A challenge to the law went to the Supreme Court and, on June 4, 1923, resulted in the important decision, Meyer v. Nebraska, in which the Court declared the law an unconstitutional restriction on the right of parents to control their children’s education.

Learn more: Paul Murphy, World War I and the Origin of Civil Liberties in the United States (1979)

Learn more about anti-German hysteria during World War I: http://www.authentichistory.com/1914-1920/2-homefront/4-hysteria/

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