Guest post by Cairie Riney, a digitization/online access intern at the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC). For the past few months, Cairie has been working with MOPA to digitize some of the Museum’s special collections.
A couple weeks ago, (by this time the really interesting mug shots are a blur in mind so time is irrelevant…so. many. pictures. Fret not, I write down the eye catching ones as I see them) I came across a couple guys that made me cock my head to the side and say "huh?" It was two men charged with the crime of espionage and labeled German spies. Now it's been a while since my last U.S. History class so I thought, anti-German sentiment before WWII?
Anti-German sentiment began with WWI and events that happened during the period of 1914 - 1918. The mug shots of these two men were taken in 1917, two years after the Lusitania, a British passenger ship was sunk by a German U-boat. Over 1,000 passengers were killed including 128 Americans. Actual sabotage by German agents occurred in July 1916 (gasp!) in what is called the "Black Tom Explosion." The explosion occurred at a New York ammunitions dump to prevent the goods from being delivered to the Allies. At this time, the U.S. was still neutral in the war but was supplying the Allies with munitions. Another contributing factor to anti-German sentiment was the "Zimmerman telegram." It was decoded in January 1917 and was from German foreign secretary Arthur Zimmerman to the German Ambassador. The telegram stated that if the U.S. were to enter the war Germany would back Mexico and help the country regain Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. These events, among several others, encouraged the U.S. to join the war as well as sparked anti-German sentiment among its population. Some side effects to anti-German sentiment included calling Germans "Huns" and Americanizing German last names, from "Schmidt" to "Smith." American musicians no longer played Beethoven or Bach, renamed sauerkraut to "liberty cabbage," dachshunds to "liberty hounds" and the German language was dropped from many high schools.
The mugshots below were from the Los Angeles Police Department. Meet Alfred the Naval Captain and Bruno the Pearl Diver. Who knows if these men were really spies or just victims of nationalism.