The Great War and the German-American Communities in Hawai‘i, 1914-1918

Velez, Cheyenne
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
During the Great War (the First World War), fear of Germans ran rampant amongst the Entente Powers, especially in the United States which would officially join the war efforts in 1917. This fear was not only found in the large continental powers near the front lines but also as far as the small Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Many could not have anticipated the severity of the effects on the German communities within the Island chain, which had become a home for many Germans since as early as the mid-1800s. Over the course of the war, many people turned against the German communities in Hawai‘i, despite being so far removed from the battlegrounds in Europe, and it resulted in the marginalization of those communities. This thesis analyzes why that fear existed in Hawai‘i as well as how it followed a similar pattern to what was taking place across the continental U.S. almost simultaneously, namely through “hyphenism” and accusations of spy activity. This thesis also demonstrates how this was due to the changing relationship between the U.S. and Hawai‘i, as Hawai‘i became a U.S. Territory in 1898, thereby allowing for more radical anti-German ideology to permeate the Hawaiian Islands. As we commemorate the centennial anniversary of the start of the War, this research aims to draw awareness to one of the lesser discussed issues of that time period: the history of the marginalization of Germans living in Hawai‘i.
fear, hyphenism, Hawai‘i, World War I, German-Americans
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