With America’s entry into the Great War 95 years ago this month, a sudden and ferocious hatred of all things German swept the country.
Cincinnati was not immune despite the fact that more than half of its citizens were German immigrants or removed from the Vaterland by no more than one or two generations. Many aspects of anti-German hysteria here have been well-documented:
More than a dozen streets with German names were changed: Bremen in Over-the-Rhine became Republic and Hamburg at the top of OTR was changed to Stonewall; German and Berlin streets in the West End became English and Woodward, respectively.
German language books were removed from local libraries. A months-long controversy erupted as to whether the German language should be dropped from the curriculum of Cincinnati public schools, and in February 1918, the school board voted to remove it from elementary schools. It pretty much died a natural death in area high schools as the war continued and fewer and fewer students elected to take it.
Textbooks presenting positive portrayals of Germany or German life were censored at local universities.
In an attempt to prove their patriotism, a number of German families anglicized their names: Reiss became Rice, Hüll changed to Hill, Schmidt to Smith, etc.
Some recorded actions to eradicate all-things German were laughable: The reported removal of pretzels from bar counters and the renaming of sauerkraut to liberty slaw on local restaurant menus