October 14, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The export of prunes to England also made the front page of the Capital Journal:

Drager Fruit Company Has Car Ready – Prunes Too Large for English Market

The first carload of prunes to be shipped to England this year from Salem is now being boxed by the Drager Fruit company. Three more carloads of 40,000 pounds each have been ordered and will be shipped this fall. There were 66 carloads of dried prunes shipped from his city last year and the indications are that only a small percent of this number will be shipped this year. The extreme fertility of the Willamette valleys and its adaptability to prune growing is largely responsible for the few English orders this year. Prunes are sold with prices in proportion to the size of the product and though there was but one-fourth of a crop in the Northwest this year the prunes were exceptionally large. Large prunes are more or less of a luxury in England this year and though the local growers would have little trouble in disposing of the smaller prunes the high grade choice article is slow in moving.

Prunes are not contraband of war and can be shipped freely to England without exorbitant insurance rates but no German orders are coming in. The unsettled condition of the European situation is thought to be largely responsible for the dullness of the prune market. For the first time in the history of the prune business the Oregon prune is selling for higher prices than the California prune. Oregon;s are quoted at from 5 to 5 1/2 cents per pound while the Native Sons can get but 4 3/4 to 5 cents for their product.

Cautioning readers regarding censorship of the news, the Capital Journal editor advises:

The censorship of news from the seat of war in Europe is not only foolish but absolutely harmful. The dispatches show that every movement made by any of the parties is known at once through the aviation fleet, so there is no danger to either side from the publication of the movements of the armies. On the other hand, the suppression of the facts causes all sorts of rumors to gain publicity and these may do infinite harm. Above all is the principle that the people of the warring countries are entitled to know the truth about the war, and the outside world is also entitled to know the real facts as they occur. Another foolish proposition is the fear of spies. It is safe to say each country knows everything about the other’s defenses any spy could tell them, and has had this information laid away for an indefinite period. Lying about the war and claiming victories unless they are victories is not going to make those victories materialize, and when the truth finally comes out and it is found that these alleged victories had no foundation other than the imagination of the censor or military authority sending them out, the world at large will have as poor an opinion of that side’s regard for the truth as it will also have for their military prowess, that achieved victories only on paper.

An op-ed piece in the Oregon Statesman, “Germany and Anti-Germany” by W. H. Alburn reflects on the power of persuasion as a tool of war:

While the German soldiers are in the trenches fighting the soldiers of England, France, Russia and Belgium, and expecting any moment to face other nations in arms, the war is being waged just as hotly and just as importantly in the world’s newspapers, magazine and books, in pamphlets and public address, in private conversation and all the modes of human intercourse.

Never before has a war been carried on like this in the arena of public opinion. And never before has public opinion been so potent and so world-wide. It is not exaggeration to say that the greatest of all wars is being decided just as much in the written and spoken controversies of the ables [sic] men of Europe and America as in the bloody clashes in northern France and East Prussia.

American sentiment, which heretofore has always been distinctly friendly to Germany and things German, has suddenly swung to the other extreme. There can be no hiding of the fact that the majority of Americans today condemn Germany for the part she has played in the war. They even begin to discount German culture they have always admired.

Our German-American citizens are naturally hurt by this sudden flare of hostility. Instead of the usual love and appreciation of their race they read and hear open denunciation.

And they themselves have rushed to the extreme. In most cases they have championed the cause of the Fatherland without qualification. They boldly assert that Germany is justified in this war, that German military methods need no defense, that criticisms are lies, that the war news in the papers is falsified, that the conduct of the allies has been uniformly despicable and that of Germany noble, that it is in very truth a war of civilization against barbarism with Germany bearing the torch of progress.

The author writes that “The Germans are actuated almost by the zeal of the Israelites under Moses, of the Islamites under Mohammed, of the Puritans under Cromwell. Such a people cannot be argued with.” History chronicles what humans have done throughout their existence and history remains important because, though times change, people do not. The writer’s lament in 1914 just as easily applies to events and issues of 2014. The writer concludes with the following suggestions:

It is futile for German-Americans to try to win the rest of our citizens to their way of thinking. It is probably just as futile to try to convince the German-Americans that the allies’ cause is just, and that present-day Germany is following false gods.

But why should we quarrel about it? Can there not be honest differences without bitterness? It is a conflict of ideas, not of individuals.

Let the Germans be Germans if they like, even in America. And let the other Americans maintain the more typically American view that militarism is an evil that must be destroyed, that there must be no conquest except that effected by clam persuasion, no domination of rules or institutions except in so far as they win by merit in a peaceful world.

In this free land every man may speak his mind. But if deep conviction drives us to utterance, let us speak in charity and tolerance, condemning falsehood but condemning no man for his opinions, because we are all Americans.

The days headlines as reported in The Daily Capital Journal:

Developments Today Are Generally Favorable to the German Side
Austrian Troops Massing for Final Effort to Utterly Crush Servia

Cossacks Left Trail of Woe and suffering Along Line of Retreat
Towns Were Burned, Farms Laid Waste, Whole Country Desolated

If German Wins She Will Get Much of Her European Territory Back
If She Joins Germany They will Drive Her From Asia As Well As Europe

Expert Says” “Germany’s Campaign in Poland Is Well Conducted:
Germany Taking the Offensive Puts Sudden End to Russian Hopes

Kaiser’s Cavalry Sighted Today Within Twenty Miles of the City


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
This entry was posted in World War I in Marion County and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to October 14, 1914

  1. Ortwin Knorr says:

    Super interesting post. I had no idea that anti-German feelings were wide-spread in the US that early in the war. It should be “calm persuasion”, though.

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