|From: "Winning a Cause"
WHY THE UNITED STATES ENTERED THE WAR
World War Stories by John Gilbert Thompson and Inez Bigwood, 1919
(a sick and twisted tool of propaganda against the Germans!!!!)
|He was severely criticized for his statement, and yet it is very true, and for more than a generation it
had been taught to American boys and girls. Peace societies had sent lecturers to the public schools
to point out the wickedness of war and the blessings of peace. Prizes had been offered to high
school, normal school, and college students for the best essays on Peace, How to Maintain the Peace
of the World, and other similar subjects. To get ready for war by enlarging the army and navy was
declared to be the very best way to bring on war. School reading books made a feature of peace
selections, and school histories were making as little of our national wars as possible. These teachings
and the very air of the land of freedom made people too proud to fight, if there were any honorable
way of avoiding it.
It is said that "People judge others by themselves." So Americans, being peaceful, contented, and not
possessed with envy of their neighbors, supposed all other civilized people were like themselves.
Therefore they could not at first believe that the Germans were different and looked upon war as a
glorious thing, because through it they might get possession of the wealth and property of others.
Perhaps the Germans, judging other people by themselves, believed that the French and Russians
and English, like the Germans, stood ready to go to war whenever through it they might gain wealth
and territory; but the Germans did not think this of the people of the United States. They thought
that they were a nation of traders and money-getters in love with the Almighty Dollar. As events
proved, this idea was a fatal mistake on the part of the Germans.
In entirely different ways, both Americans and Germans were taught that they were the people above
all other peoples in the world. The German insolently sang "Germany above All" while the American
good-naturedly boasted his land as the freest, the noblest and best, leading all the other countries and
showing them the way to become greater and better. The American people, however, did not intend
to force their beliefs upon other nations. But the Germans were led by the idea that German Kultur
would be a blessing for all mankind and that it was their destiny to conquer and improve all other
But the American does not go this far. While he is inclined to believe himself and his country better
than any other people or nation, yet he is content to let others live in their own way as long as they
are honest and do not interfere with him and his business. He is, to be sure, desirous of improving
them, but by peaceful means, by building dams and railroads for them, and by giving them schools
and sending them missionaries.
It was difficult therefore for Americans to realize that the Germans really planned and desired the
war in order that they might rule the world. It took months and even years of war for the majority of
Americans to come to a full realization of this truth. This should be remembered when the question is
asked, not why the United States entered the war, but why she did not enter it earlier.
Americans are honorable and look upon the breaking of a pledge or an agreement as a shameful
thing. It was almost impossible for them to believe that a nation, far advanced in science and learning
of all kinds, could look upon a treaty as a scrap of paper and consider its most solemn promises as
not binding when it was to its advantage to break them. Americans in their homes, their churches,
and their schools had been taught that "an honest man is the noblest work of God." They had heard
the old saying that "All is fair in love and war"; but they could not think for a moment that a whole
nation of men and women had been taught that lies and treachery and broken promises were fair
because they helped the Fatherland work out its destiny and rule the world.
They knew that Chancellor Bismarck falsified a telegram to bring on the war with France in 1870,
and they learned to their dismay that Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg in 1914 declared the treaty with
Belgium only "a scrap of paper" when Germany wished to cross that country to strike France.
Americans kept learning that Germany's promises to respect hospitals and hospital ships, stretcher-
bearers and the Red Cross, not to interfere with non-combatants, not to use poison gas, not to
bombard defenseless cities and towns were all "scraps of paper." They discovered even the
naturalization papers which Germans in America took out in order to become American citizens were
lies sworn to, for the German who declared his loyalty to his new mother country was still held by
Germany as owing his first fealty and duty to her. It must be said, however, that many Germans who
became naturalized in the United States did not agree with these secret orders of their Fatherland; but
many others did, and the rulers of Germany encouraged such deception.
It was many months after the beginning of the World War before the large body of American citizens
would believe that the German nation and the German people made a business of lies and deception,
and considered such a business just and proper when in the service of the Fatherland. But when
Germany—after having promised the United States on May 4, 1916, that merchant ships would not
be sunk without warning or without giving the crews and passengers an opportunity for safety—on
January 31, 1917, informed Washington that she was not going to keep her promise and told the
German people that she had only made it in order to get time to build a great submarine fleet which
would bring England to her knees in three months—then the American people saw Germany as she
was and in her shame.
Of all the peoples of the earth, the Americans are probably the most sympathetic and helpful to the
weak and the afflicted. They are the most merciful, striving to be kind not only to people but even to
animals. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, another for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals, and the numberless Bands of Mercy show the feeling of the people of America toward
the helpless. Americans supposed that other people were like them in this respect. They knew of the
German pensions to the widows and to the aged, and they supposed that the efficient and enlightened
Germans were among the merciful and sympathetic to the weak and dependent. The people of the
United States knew, of course, of the Zabern incident where two German soldiers held a crippled
Alsatian cobbler while a German officer slashed his face with his sword for laughing at him,—they
knew that the German army officers were haughty and overbearing, but they thought this came from
their training and was not a part of the German character. Americans had read the Kaiser's directions
to the German soldiers going to China during the Boxer uprising to "Show no mercy! Take no
prisoners! Use such frightfulness that a Chinaman will never dare look at a German again. Make a
name for yourselves as the Hun did long ago." But the Americans, or most of them, did not believe
that in the twentieth century a nation classified among the civilized nations could or would adopt
Frightfulness as a policy. But when they read of the devastation of Belgium and northern France; of
the destruction of Louvain; of whole villages of innocent men, women, and children being wiped out;
of the horrible crimes of the sinking of the Lusitania, the Falaba, and the Laconia; of the execution of
Edith Cavell; of the carrying off into slavery, or worse than slavery, of the able-bodied women and
men from the conquered territory—when Americans learned these horrors one after another, they at
last were forced to acknowledge that, like the brutal Assyrian kings who sought to terrify their
enemies into submission by standing as conquerors upon pyramids of the slain, the modern Huns
sought mastery by Frightfulness.
When most Americans came to realize that Germany was fighting a war to conquer the world, first
Russia and France, then England, and then the United States—for she had written Mexico that if she
would attack the United States, Germany and Mexico would make war and peace together—when
they came to know the German nature and the idea of the Germans, that Might makes Right and that
truth, honesty, and square dealing like mercy, pity, and love are only words of weaklings; that they
were a nation of liars and falsifiers and the most brutal of all people of recorded history;
when, added to this, the Americans realized that for over two years France and England had really
been fighting for everything for which the United States stood and which her people held dear, for
her very life and liberty, then America almost as one man declared for war.
Meanwhile Germany had declined to recognize the laws of nations which allowed America to sell
munitions to the Allies. She had scattered spies through the United States to destroy property and
create labor troubles. She had challenged the right of peaceful Americans to travel on the high seas.
She had sunk the Lusitania with a loss of one hundred twenty-four American lives; the Sussex, the
Laconia with a loss of eight Americans, the Vigilancia with five, the City of Memphis, the Illinois, the
Healdton, and others. She had tried to unite Mexico and Japan against us.
Not until then, after the American people had become fully aware of the German character and
purposes, did Congress on April 6, 1917, declare a state of war existed between Germany and the
United States. On that day the outcome of the war was decided. Through her hideous selfishness,
her stupidity, and her brutality, Germany, after having spent nearly fifty years in preparation,
lost her opportunity for world dominion. The resources and the fighting power of what she
looked upon as a nation of cowardly, money-loving merchants decided the conflict.
|The United States was slow to enter the war, because her people believed war an evil to be avoided
at almost any cost except honor. In fact, "Peace at any price" seemed to be the motto of many
Americans even after two years of the World War. President Wilson declared in a speech at
Philadelphia on May 10, 1915, that there is such a thing as being too proud to fight.