Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Today -100: December 29, 1915: We Germans do not understand what you call your free press

A federal grand jury issues indictments on charges of conspiracy to prevent the manufacture and shipment of arms to the Allies for officials of Labor’s National Peace Council, including its president, Congressman Frank Buchanan (D-Illinois); H. Robert Fowler, a former congressman; former Attorney General of Ohio Frank Monnette; and German Navy captain Franz Rintelen, who was captured by the British when he sailed from the US to Germany under a false name. Oddly, they are being charged under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, I guess for conspiracy in restraint of trade. Ironic, because Monnette had a lot to do with the breakup of Standard Oil. That said, several of the charges amount to trying to persuade workers in munitions factories to strike or quit, which sounds like just free speech to me.

The Indian National Congress’s annual, er, congress, pledges support for the British war effort. Congress President Sir Satyendra Sinha says he hopes “the spontaneous outburst of loyalty had dispelled forever all distrust and suspicion between the Indians and their rulers.”

Secretary of State Lansing asks Britain and France for permission for the Red Cross to ship milk to Germany and Austria. For the children. For the children.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The German Overseas News Agency is claiming that King Vittorio Emanuele of Italy has been wounded by an Austrian grenade.

German Naval Attaché Karl Boy-Ed, recalled after US insistence because of his links to spying and sabotage – so much spying! so much sabotage! – leaves. On the dock he hands out a statement, mostly blaming the Providence Journal: “This paper, with its British-born Mr. Rathom [Australian, actually], has done its utmost to create an almost hysterical suspicion of spies throughout the country in order to prejudice public opinion against Germany.” Boy-Ed is not wrong there. “We Germans do not understand what you call your free press.” Boy-Ed is not wrong there.

The NYT notes that “When Captain von Papen sailed on the Noordam, his friends in New York sent him coffee, cream, candy, fruit, champagne, and a keg of sauerkraut, but for some reason no presents found their way to Captain Boy-Ed’s cabin, and there was no friend at the pier to see him away.” How Boy-Ed will survive the voyage without a keg of sauerkraut, I just do not know.

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1 comment:

lawguy said...

Given the way Wilson treated the First Amendment and free speech once we got into the war, it looks like he's taking a running start.