While February 14 is well known to us today as Valentine’s Day, it is interesting to note that it is not mentioned in 1918. Instead, most of the February 14, 1918, issue of the Abendschule deals with Washington and Lincoln as two “Volksideale.” Remembering Washington’s Birthday was perhaps considered more important than writing cards to loved ones, but it leaves us wondering, just when did Valentine’s Day became so important? It has been with us most of our lives, but it apparently was not as significant when our grandparents were young.
On page 512, there is a special “Allerlei” called “Nationales Allerlei.” One item there points out that the Declaration of Independence was translated into German almost immediately after it was published in English: “Philadelphia, den 5. Juli. Gestern hat der achtbare Congress dieses westlichen Landes die Vereingten Colonien freye und unabhängige Staaten erklärt.” However, this was just an announcement. A German translation appeared in the Der Staatsbote for the first time on Juli 9, 1776. The Abendschule goes on to explain that “Im Jahre 1776 galt das Studium und die Erkenntnis der deutschen Sprache noch für eine schätzenswerte Errungenschaft.”
Read more on the role of the German language in America in 1776.
Even though the United States had declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917 (although American troops did not arrive in Europe until the summer of 1918), apparently learning German was still considered “schätzenswert” in 1918.
Read more on “World War I and the German Language in America.”