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Chapter 11 - German Americans

Dual Loyalties and Poetic Adaptations of “The Watch on the Rhine”

from Part II - Settings and Subjects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2021

Tim Dayton
Affiliation:
Kansas State University
Mark W. Van Wienen
Affiliation:
Northern Illinois University
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Summary

German immigrant poets in the United States wrote and published many poems in 1914-1915 that conveyed patriotism for their country of birth and support for the German war effort. They expressed their German sympathies in part by drawing on nineteenth-century German patriotic poetry, borrowing or refashioning elements of one poem in particular, Max Schneckenberger’s “The Watch on the Rhine” (“Die Wacht am Rhein”). Originally published in 1840, this poem served as an anthem of sorts for German Americans during the early months of the Great War and is a key text for understanding German-American poetry and culture. This chapter discusses several examples of poems that reference Schneckenberger’s text The poems help us recognize how German-American poets, and German Americans more generally, defined and projected their national identity early in the war, when they could maintain dual loyalties to Germany and the United States. The poetry also suggests that rampant anti-German sentiment would soon motivate the immigrant poets to suppress manifestations of their allegiance and cultural ties to the European homeland.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • German Americans
  • Edited by Tim Dayton, Kansas State University, Mark W. Van Wienen, Northern Illinois University
  • Book: A History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War
  • Online publication: 23 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108615433.012
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  • German Americans
  • Edited by Tim Dayton, Kansas State University, Mark W. Van Wienen, Northern Illinois University
  • Book: A History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War
  • Online publication: 23 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108615433.012
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • German Americans
  • Edited by Tim Dayton, Kansas State University, Mark W. Van Wienen, Northern Illinois University
  • Book: A History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War
  • Online publication: 23 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108615433.012
Available formats
×