Between the World Wars: Articles from the Syracuse Union, available through the New York State Newspaper Project

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12 Pages
Syracuse Union

The Syracuse Union is the only German newspaper published in Syracuse. - Established in 1852.

Pages 1 through 8

Number 45

Thursday, November 14, 1918

Volume 66
600 Million Dollars needed for new warships


True translation filed with the Postmaster of Syracuse, N.Y., November 14, 1918, as required by the act of October 6, 1917.

The White House, Washington, November 11. —My Countrymen! The armistice was signed this morning. Everything, for which we fought, has been achieved. It will now be our fortunate task to provide sober and friendly advice and through material assistance achieve the establishment of proper democracy throughout the entire world. —Woodrow WilsonImperial decree announced the abdication of the Kaiser.


Crown Prince declines throne and delegate Friedrich Ebert, Social Democrat, becomes Chancellor.

October 4, 1917, p.2, editorial section
[A Look Back at the Reaction to the Trading with the Enemy Act of October 6, 1917.]

Old Russia and New America.


Bullying the Press.


(Dr. Fargo, "Albany Herold und Freie Blätter.")

Congress has decided to raise a bad bill to a useless law by bullying the foreign language press in America.

When this bill becomes law the "Albany Herold" will scarcely be affect by it. Articles in foreign languages concerning the administration and the war will have to be translated into English. Up until now the "Albany Herold" has done this voluntarily but if it is now necessary to render a word-for-word translation it can no longer affect us politically since, as we have already said, we have already created and published a sufficient number of transcripts. The amount of work and expense will only be slightly greater when the demand for literal translation becomes law. Unfortunately there can be no doubt of this.

According to federal decision we are entitled to criticize enacted laws only if we obey them, thus we are undoubtedly justified in criticizing pending laws before they have the power of legislation behind them.

The new law facing foreign language newspapers will supposedly require that translations be submitted to the postmaster for approval before printing them or mailing them out. There was a similar situation in old Russia but in today's Russia one no longer dares to enact such a regulation. So it was in old Russia, and so it is here and now.

I earned my first "vegetables" as a journalist working under Russian domination. This was before coming to America and working for a few month's on Carl Schurz' "Westliche Post" in St. Louis Mo. I say that I earned my vegetables because there were no laurel wreaths for journalists. This was more than thirty years ago in what is now the German held port city of Libau [Liepaja in Latvia.] It's where I began my journalistic career as editor of the daily newspaper, the "Libau'schen Tagesanzeiger." It was a morning paper but articles for the next morning had to be submitted the night before to the censor, Police Commissioner Namedloff. If Namedloff was sober we'd get the articles back with his signature of approval the next morning. If he was drunk we'd get them back much later so we had to print the newspaper later in the day. Naturally we preferred that the Police Commissioner not down his vodka since most of the time he signed the articles without reading them. He was certain that we wouldn't print anything questionable, so our paper usually came out on time. That was Russia during the darkest time of the reaction shortly after the ex-tsar's grandfather was killed [March 1881.] Autocracy was more tyrannical than ever.

We have no police commissioner and we have no tsars. We have a constitution which forbids laws creating class distinctions. We have a great democracy which is now borrowing ideas from old Russia, the tsars and the police commissioners. As we have seen, even Russia no longer wants them. Today it's the postmaster instead of the police commissioner acting as the so-called preventive measures censor.

Extraordinary situations such as a great war may justify exceptional measures but should they be applied to the foreign language newspapers? And even if such measures were justified the way in which they are set down in the upcoming legislation is particularly undemocratic. In a democracy such decisions should fall to elected officials. The postmaster is not elected by the people. It is a safeguard created by politicians, as it was when police commissioner Namedloff became the censor. Nothing other than his birthright qualified him for the position, and what a birthright it was. He was the illegitimate son of General von Lilienfeld, who was governor of Kurland at the time. The only literary qualifications he possessed to become censor he inherited from a relative of his father's. It was either a brother or cousin of the general's who made a name for himself as an author.

But here the postmaster should become censor? He should check articles before publication so they conform to the law? There are some exceptions among postmasters, however most come to office because they performed satisfactory service to well-placed politicians. This is the most important qualification for appointment to the office. And these civil servants are supposed to control articles published in foreign language newspapers? When it comes to German editors, we're convinced they might well say that in most cases they understand the law much better than most of the future censors. Certainly they will operate within the bounds of the law and if the postmasters as censors exercise their power of censure it will be nothing other than chicanery since there will be nothing to censure. There are penalties in place for infractions for journalists as well as miscreants. Stiff penalties during wartime are always in place for certain misdemeanors and felonies but the postmaster is not the man to impose sanctions; he also doesn't understand them. If he makes a mistake, if he keeps a newspaper from sending something out, who can offer the newspaper owner satisfaction of either moral or material value? Prohibition from publishing is a death sentence for a newspaper. An enforced death sentence can never be rescinded. We are opposed to this piece of legislation. It was a bad thing in Russia and it's an even worse thing in new America.

Thursday, November 14, 1918, p. 2 [First issue published after the signing of the armistice.]

The "Syracuse Union"

Established in 1852 by Georg Saul

Printed each Thursday at 632 North Salina Street,
Syracuse, N.Y.


(Entered as second class matter at the Post Office in Syracuse, N.Y.)


The Oberland Press - Publisher
Christian Peil - Editor


Notices and advertisements to the "Union" must be submitted by Wednesday afternoon. They must also be addressed to the "Syracuse Union." If you do not receive your newspaper on time or in poor condition, please report this to the office immediately. All complaints are handled diligently by calling James 4319.

Subscription proces for the "Syracuse Union" are as follows:

  • One Year - $2.00
  • Six Months - $1.00
  • Three Months - .50
  • Single Issues - .05
  • Exported Yearly Rate - 2.50

Agents for the "Syracuse Union" in New York State are:
      Oneida - Rudolph Müller
            Liverpool - G. Stumphaus
                  Corning - F. Vollgraf, 161 Myrtle St.

December 5, 1918, Page 2

"If the Cap fits, wear it!"

Before the United States' entry into the World War the "Syracuse Union," along with most other German language newspapers in the country, sympathized with the German cause, at least with respect to the innocent people trapped by it. Once the United States entered the war, the Union put forth every effort to defend against the senseless agitation against all Germans to the greatest extent of its capacity. And as a patriotic newspaper of this country it knew the difference between those who were waging world war and the people, who were dragged into it against their will.

Despite this there are those, who from their secure vantage point, would rather see the German newspaper confiscated, its publisher and editor imprisoned and thus deprive those American citizens of German heritage or birth the only weapon in their defense as the newspaper fulfilled its sworn duty while obeying the laws of the land.

To such thoughtless, or even worse described detractors, we have just one word for you: Pfui!

December 12, 1918, Page 2

Teacher's Journal on the Warpath against German Names

The Milwaukee journal, "The Western Teacher" published the following article titled What shall we do with the Germans?:

"We could submit it to the sound reasoning and the practical business sense of our fellow German citizens that in the future they abstain from burdening their innocent children with such German first names as Fritz, Konrad, Otto, Emil, Anton, Hermann, Karl, Max, Ernst, Adolf, Gustav, Gretchen, Hedwig, Hukda, etc. Those who already possess such first names should only use initials before their family names. Within one generation we could eliminate Germanism by banning the German language, discouraging marriage between German couples, and prohibiting the perpetuation of the names of German mothers in the family. Their culture would disappear and all things German would be eliminated in a thoroughly painless and humane method."

And such moronic rabble-rousing is being instigated by a journal for teachers? It truly is a pity! And a large portion of teachers will swallow this without feeling how incredibly tragic it is. If teachers' journals have slumped to this level, what other kinds of shabby journalism can we expect? —W.P.

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Translation by Susan Kriegbaum-Hanks