tv U.S. Entry in to World War I CSPAN November 19, 2016 8:45am-10:16am EST
from his surgery. his passing was a great blow to the people of western pennsylvania and the 12th istrict. >> this weekend we're featuring the history of pittsburgh, pennsylvania together with our comcast cable partners. learn more about pittsburgh and other stops on our cities tour at c-span.org/cities tour. you're watching merp history tv all weekend -- you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. >> up next u.s. army war college history professor michael neiberg talks about events leading up to america's entry in world war i and common misperceptions he sees in conventional vufse the great war. mr. neiberg is the author of "the path to war, how the first world war created modern america." the new york military affairs symposium hosted this event. it's an hour and a half.
>> michael neiberg is the chair of the war cities department at the u.s. army war college in carlisle, pennsylvania. he completed his bachelors degree from the university of michigan and his masters and doctorate at carnegie melon university. with backgrounds in social, military, french, and american history, dr. neiberg has published widely on the theme of war in the world especially the area of the two world wars. his many books include dance of the furies, europe and the outbreak of world war i, published by harvard university press in 2011, which "the wall street journal" named as one of the five best books ever written about the war. in october, 2012, basic books published "the blood of free men" the history of the liberation of paris in 1944. in may, 2015, basic published "the end of world war ii and the remaking of europe." this month oxford university press published "path to war" the history of the american esponses to the great war,
1914-1917. please welcome dr. michael neiberg. [applause] dr. neiberg: i want to thank jerry for that kind introduction and i do work at the u.s. army war college. the sole disadvantage of that is that i'm supposed to tell you that everything you're going to hear tonight is the express opinion of me, personally, not the department of defense, the u.s. army, the u.s. army war college, or anybody in my chain of command. so we've got that oust the way. i want to thank you for the invitation to be here. i've had several good friends who presented here in the past and all urged me to come here. it is a great pleasure to be here and talk to all of you here today. this talk is based on a larger project. it's based on a book that jerry mentioned. looking at american responses to the war in europe from when it began in 1914 until u.s. entry in 1917. and this is the subject that i'm afraid we as a community of historians have not treated particularly well. we have either looked at it exclusively from the lens of woodrow wilson in and his close group of advicers or we've taken a couple half truths in
the 1930's mixed into the more half truths in the 1960's, shook it up and made history out of it. as i hope to show you here shall the real story of the years is far more complex and far more interesting. my book asks questions about what the rest of the united states was doing outside of washington, d.c. in wilson's circle of advicers. what were the american people thinking about these titanic events going on around them? how did they respond to the massive changes at home and abroad that the war was ushering in? why does it all matter? i want to start with this image from november, 1914, "life" magazine. i apologize for the quality of it. the library where i found it wasn't crazy about my idea to razor it out and glue it back in. [laughter] mr. neiberg: this is from very early in the war, the war's first couple months. i'd like you to look at the name of this map, a map of europe for permanent peace, and i'd like you to look at a couple details. the two images on the left shall the image on the top is from belgium. the image on the bottom is the great french cathedral which
the germans had shelled into the fall of 1914. i'd like you to take a look at the map. what do you notice about it? there is no germany on this map. france goes all the way to vienna. belgium is greatly enlarged. a new poland is created. the empire is broken up. the only thing i want to do with this image and i'll come back to the theme a little more, what i really want to do is just show you one important theme which is that the american people as a whole were pro allied from the start. now that didn't mean they wanted to get involved in the war. it didn't mean they wanted to see american foreign policy tilt too much one way or the other. but where their sympathies were is quite clear. and i'll talk a little bit more about that in a bit. in 1914, however, it was quite clear that the american people thought this war was going to be short and thought this war would not cause them to make great changes to the way that they did things. and as i'll show you in a
little bit events are going to prove that's a false assumption. i want to dispel one myth right away and that is the myth that the american people were mere bystanders and didn't pay attention to what was going on. that's patently false. they knew full well that the events that were going on in europe were monumental in their scale and scope. they also knew that what happened in europe would surely affect them in the united states on a political, economic, and social level. this was the greatest news story of the age. the greatest many people said since 1865. nor do the american people react exactly the way woodrow wilson wanted them to in a famous speech he gave in the end of august asking americans to be strictly neutral in thought and in deed. wilson, himself, didn't follow that guidance. most americans as i said favored the allies. seeing the germans especially as the agressors in this war and the ones who started an unnecessary war from a rather small cause. like the president, however, they blamed the german government not the german
people. they blamed autocratic political systems and aristocratic social systems. governments, they argued, not people went to war. an idea americans still hold true to this day. americans in 1914 called for a regime change well before that phrase became a part of the political lexicon. still, until 1917, most americans hoped to keep their country out of the fighting but that did not keep most americans from giving their time and their money and sometimes their lives to the allied cause. especially to france. a point to which i'll return in just a little bit. it also meant that the united states had no problem with woodrow wilson's economic policies, which tended to favor the allies dramatically. wilson's definition of neutrality maximized american profits while tying the united states to the allies, a quite favorable overlap of economic and moral reasons. it also made for many americans enemies of the germans in their eyes. here's really what i want to do tonight. i want to take you on a little
journey. this man is walter hines page. he was a north carolina newspaper editor who was a firm backer of president wilson. wilson rewarded him by naming him the ambassador to great britain, technically the ambassador to the court of st. james in 1913. when the war broke out in august of 1914, he wrote this letter to the president. now and ever, he said, i thank heaven for the atlantic ocean, thank god we are out of it. just over a year later, he wrote another letter to wilson in which he said, "if germany wins, the monroe doctrine will be shot through. we shall have to have a great army and navy." and please remember in 1915 this was considered a bad thing. it meant you were going to have to spend a lot of money on something you didn't used to have to spend a lot of money on. but suppose that england wins. we shall have merely an ek academic dispute with her. it is a matter of life or death for english speaking civilization. walter hines page felt so strongly about this that he left england, came back to the
united states, went to the white house. wilson wouldn't see him. walter hines page went down to shadow lawn wilson's house just down the shore on the jersey coach and sat on the front porch until woodrow wilson showed up. now, page was a little ahead of where most americans were. although he was not ahead of his fellow ambassadors in europe including james girard, the american ambassador to germany. so in a sense what i want to do is take you through this journey. from 1914 where americans could say, thank god it's somebody else's problem, to october, 1915 where i would argue a few months after that, a few months later than that when americans were talking about the war in europe as life and death for them, here in the united states. that's the journey i want to take you on. i'm going to start by introducing you to someone you may not have heard of. i hadn't heard of her. in 1914 she was one of the most famous people in the united states. this is mary roberts reinhart later to be called the american ag that christie a best selling
writer, one of the most popular in the united states. she was offered the chance in 1915 to go to the western front and be the first woman ever allowed into the trenches. she was at a cocktail party here in new york city in front of the entire cocktail party her husband forbade her from going. mary roberts reinhart turned to her husband and said, i do not intend to let the biggest thing of my life go by without having been a part of it. by the time the cocktail party was over her husband had agreed to let her go on condition that the saturday evening post take out a massive life insurance policy on her and that the saturday evening post pay her what was then the enormous sum of $1,000 per dispatch. a remarkable figure. it's pretty good even today. in some ways her journey from pittsburgh, pennsylvania through new york to london to berlin to belgium into the trenches and back home typifies the way that americans were going to view the war for many months. first, she went to europe with some pro ally sympathies but went hoping to condemn both sides in the dispatches she
planned to send back to o "the saturday evening post." the more she saw the war, however, the more she blamed the germans and the more she believed the british and french were fighting on the side of the right. that is the side of the democracy, the side of the weak. econd, this woman was no cipher. like most journalists the klums she wrote warned americans not to believe what the british media were reporting. instead she said believe what we american journalists can prove, what we saw with our own eyes, what we saw is bad enough. it's not necessary to believe the lurid stories the british are trying to tell out of belgium. believe what we saw with our own eyes. third, she saw early on that although the united states had interests in seeing britain and france succeed in this war, american interests and british and french interests did not overlap. therefore if the united states
were to get involved it would have to be for american reasons not to bail out the british or the french. fourth, by the time of the sinking of the lusitania, mary roberts rinehart like most americans wanted to see the german army thoroughly defeated, preferably by the french, the british, and the russians with the united states supporting them from the outside. this is a page from her war-time diary. whoops. no that's not. that is a page from her war-time diary. she came back to the united states in even greater celebrity. she came back in march, 1915, much more famous, much weltier, and just before the lusitania sinking. to her and for millions of americans, the great question of the lusitania was not whether or not it would pull the united states into the war. almost nobody argued for war. the question was what would the lusitania now force the united states to do? the reality that the lusitania ushered in, that the war would not be short and that the united states would be unable
to stay out of it, was the great question of the age. how will we react to a war that is no longer merely europe's war? what changes do we as americans need to make? do we need to change our business practices? do we need to build a bigger navy? do we need to build a bigger army? do we need to change the nature of that army? related to those questions, were larger questions over which the united states had little control. how much longer will this war last? who will win it? can the war bring positive change as the american civil war brought the end of slavery? does the united states have a moral responsibility to act on the side of the right against the side of the wrong? and it should come as no surprise to anybody in this room that americans did not agree on the answers to those questions. they certainly did not follow their president. in the wake of the lusitania attitudes grew much harsher.
you can see the image here. it's the kaiser with the sword, dripping with blood. the text reads allah is with us. most americans blamed germany not the ottman empire for the catastrophe happening to the armenians. they believed that the empire could not and would not have done what it did had the germans not been supporting them. armenia drew tremendous sympathy in the united states. a christian population living inside a muslim empire trapped in between the ottman empire and the russian empire. philadelphia held an armenia day to raise money and raise awareness. in addition, the threat to the united states seemed to grow day by day especially here in new york city. there were sabotage campaigns ongoing in american industry and american factories.
there was the attempted assassination of jpmorgan junior in his home in long island by a deranged german student who had no connection o the german government. those of you who know the story of jersey city know there was a giant set of piers that took munitions from the industrial heartland of the united states verseas. it's now where liberty state park stands today. if you go to the back of liberty state park the piers are still kind of there. you see the outline and there is one terribly worded sign to tell visitors what happened there.
the goal was not to make america ready to fight, but to make america too strong. in other words, no one would attack us. this movement was led largely by industrialists and people like teddy roosevelt who were not -- you are furious that the government was not doing more. i like this ad. you can see the text. revere. the guy behind the telephone is bell's telephone system showing the modern paul revere system. it says the bell system is a distinctly american achievement and it's like is not to be found anywhere in the world.
this was partly led by people roosevelt.re his fear was the united states would become like china, a powerful company with no europeancarved up by enemies. it was also led by people like mary roberts rinehart who said that america had to get ready, whatever that meant. edison created a commit me for -- a committee for scientific preparedness. the mayo clinic to create a -- imagine doing this
today. he went to the entire faculty of columbia university and said is wired.w the system identify where you can be most useful to the country in an emergency. he did this in 1916 and every single member of columbia's faculty responded. it is not to get the united states to go to war. produced halfnly measures. it gave the united states and navy and it gave the united states a lot of parades. but it highlighted the central american problem. knowing that we needed to be prepared but disagreeing about how to do it. it also highlighted the essential ineffectiveness of government, and this is really what theater roosevelt, what
general leonard wood, and others are saying. if the government is incompatible in preparing us, then others. how, in other words, can we be neutral and safe at the same time? now, as i said, a little of that fear, a little of that suspicion, translated to german-americans, the vast majority of them, at least since the civil war, were non-prussian and disproportionately catholic. a lot of those same americans came from germany, specifically to get away from the prussian system. german-americans were also and quite proud of the single most assimilated group in the united states among immigrants, and then the pulitzer prize in 1920. it depicted the wheeler family living in the press, whose son gives up plans to study in germany because of how were plus he is by the actions of the germans in world war i but never turns his back on the german-americans in his community. how come the germans are such ugly looking people?
the folks around here are not ugly looking, asks the housekeeper. he replies, the ugly ones are doing the killing, while those on the homefront are nice, like ours. another wrote that they are not vandals. the germans we know, some come here to escape the same thing that has wrecked the old world, and coming to this land of the free, he has followed an ideal as steadily as the fatherland. they are following the false gods of hate and war. the key in other words was not the system -- was not the people but the system under which they lived. in the introductory remarks, you guys talked about a seminar you're going to hold on constitutional law and the changes that went on in the united states during the first world war. it is different in wartime been in the years leading up to the war, and we can talk more about that, as well, and an example of this is the most prominent german catholic of chicago gave a number of addresses on this
topic. what should german-americans do as this crisis with germany began to build? he was himself the grandson of a union veteran in the civil war, and when asked about this topic for the next time, he said it seems to me it is rather late in the day to ghastly german-american to prove his patriotism. he did that more than half a century ago, referring back to the american civil war period, and when the decision came close in 1917, should war break out, it was said german-americans would support the united states, of the little drummer boy in the orphan asylum to the aged veteran in the old folks home. some consider themselves german-american. dwight eisenhower and pershing prove the case quite
effectively. they also didn't went to be tarred with the brush of disloyalty. they understood a tremendous difference between german-americans born in the u.s. and german-americans born in germany. many other german-americans described to the crisis that was going on as what happens when a wife and a mother disagree. he said wives and mothers disagree a lot. the mother is the one that raised you. the wife is the one who is with you right now. when a wife and a mother disagree, who wins? and his answer was the wife. many others agree. in the 1916 election, they were split, except for the socialist vote in certain cities like milwaukee. in other words, there was no german vote, any more than there was an irish vote. wilson tried carefully to tar his rival with being the pro kaiser candidate. now, something very similar is going to happen with
irish-americans. this is a political cartoon shortly after the easter rising, and the cartoon is called irish patriots, edit has the sultan of the ottoman empire and the kaiser's with the green and the irish instrument. irish-americans like to say england's difficulty is ireland's opportunity. in other words, whatever is best for england is good for us. but the lusitania made it clear that germany was no better as an alternative, and many irish made the argument that ireland, a small, catholic country, was a lot like belgian, another small catholic country run over. the big difference comes with the easter rising, and i can blame it little bit here and can do more in the q&a, if you want to night and 16, a small group of irish countries known as the brotherhood, they take over large sections of central dublin and sections of the country in a rebellion against the british.
some of you might know the british it down very forcefully and very mildly. from the beginning, the british position is unpopular in the united states. even america's most pro-british spokespersons, theodore roosevelt among them, criticized the british, not just for the violent response for the execution of many of those pretty much without trials. however, it proves things to irish-americans. one was that germany was no better as an international sponsor or patron than was great britain. they sponsored part of the easter rising. they took some and landed them in ireland. they promised weapons. they promised support, and in the end, they did nothing in the second was that irish-american leaders especially came to resent the accusations -- the disloyalty. the argument went we are irish-american, but we are american. you can count on us not to do it they did in dublin. furthermore, what irish-americans came to realize,
although many of them did not like it, is that the best hope for ireland was that the united states and great britain were in the winning coalition of the war, and the reason is that woodrow wilson had begun to speak of self-determination. in other words, the best hope for ireland going forward was for britain to win, and for the united states to be part of that coalition so that woodrow wilson could force great britain to accept self-determination for ireland. now, as some of you may know, wilson had already determined at that point that the irish were not a nation, that the irish could be what were presented with in the larger british structure. that is something he did not make public until 1919, so irish americans are going to be unhappy. there are few woodrow wilson markers in ireland. i was just in the czech republic.
it are a lot in the czech republic. there are few in ireland. it is a little more complex, but there is some similarity, and i wanted to close with his quotation from an irish-american actor. living here in new york city, when asked about his loyalty, he said, i am a new yorker. i would assume issued an irishman as a german if he threatened new york city. you guys laughed, but the other places i have had this discussion, there was no laughter. now, i told you about american fears coming close, fears on the rise, and i want to show you the image i use most often, the i could have chosen others. this is another "life" magazine, this one from 1916. february 1916. notice how early it is. you will notice a few things on this map. i absolutely love it. most of the united states is called new pressure. and some areas, like where boise, idaho, is, there are the two diplomats that were declared persona non grata. pittsburgh -- i want you to notice a couple of things on
that map. mexico is identified here as the province of mexico with a capital. this is, of course, playing on those fears that poncho via, what we would today call the failed state of mexico, german inspired. or worse still german funded or worse still part of a german-mexican alliance. i would like you to also notice that florida is also named differently here. this was a major american fear. one of the things during preparedness, the united states begins to arm and fortify puerto rico, and the united states purchases the islands from denmark to become the united states virgin islands. the member, 1914 is opened. the united states is worried about it. the west coast is known by
another name, and this is the american reservation. anybody who is a psychologist can play on that one. and baja, california. this is exactly the fear that was brought up a year earlier, that what could happen to the united states is it could be torn apart, cut up into its various constituent pieces. the ocean has a name, the gulf of mexico, and the when i have not talked about yet, if you can please pan out yet, my favorite part, if you can show this imagery of calgary, canada is referred to as barbarians. now, in case there are any canadians in the room, i do not think they were referring to canada here. what they are referring to is the possibility is if there is enough pressure, and that pressure is about to come, and the battles we will focus on in the near future, if the british
and french are under a enough pressure, they might give up parts of their north american possessions in order to get out of the war, and anybody who knows anything about 18 entry or -- 18th century and 19th century history, this is the great powers treatment of north america, so the fear is not so much that the canadians are going to turn into barbarians, like the rangers here tomorrow, so maybe, or sunday, but the fear is if the british are under a enough pressure -- remember, canada is under the british empire. what they might do is say to the germans in the peace treaty, we will give you a halifax. we will give you the port city on the west side near vancouver. we will give you toronto. we will give you whatever you want. just get us out of this, get us out of this. the french, similarly, still have possession of guadalupe and martinique. it is possible that what the americans could face in other words is a future where there is
germany,ce between mexico, and japan. these fears come back in a couple months. andhe same time, britain france are trading parts of their north american possessions. two things to note -- this is a strategic outcome that is unacceptable to the united states. and two, the conclusion that many people reach, neutrality has made us less safe, not more. we may have done the right thing staying out of this war, but we are in a more dangerous situation. this is certainly the conclusion rinehart.oberts it is certainly the conclusion of the it or roosevelt. the united states can lose if or especially if it does nothing. this is just a couple months after the statement walter hines wilsonde to president
about this being an existential threat to the united states. economics is also a huge factor. this is from the chicago tribune. you see the madness, pulling the hard currency of europe over to this part of the world, the atlantic ocean and you can see is bringing pounds, marks, rubles, and franks. is in an enormous factor. the united states economy was in recession. the war brings us out of the recession almost immediately. everybody everywhere is making money. everybody everywhere is making money. new york city especially was booming. works signedotive a deal for millions of dollars
russians. in ammunition company signed the british rifle cartridges. they got a fat contract for the pennsylvania national guard preparedness movement. with those contracts came jobs and salaries after years of hard times. goods, things that americans used to buy overseas, as symbolds, things as pencils, bibles we now bought from manufacturers here at home. even the wheelers in nebraska, willie cather, making money from wheat prices going up. everybody is making money. record profits for camera farmers. in 1916, incomes were going out. success, there you can
sorry, a slide i like to show. some americans were not comfortable with all of this money. some thought this put america in position.l we are making money off the tragedies in europe. some donated a symbolic part of that money to those who were suffering. picked this 1 -- this is a day to raise money for these serbians. the ivy league was approach, the ivy league then the big football conference, about donating all the profits from their 1915 football season to charity. they said no, but they agree to pass around buckets people could throw change into. almost all of the money raised 20 to survey, poland, and
france. john wanamaker called raising $100 million for belgium alone. philadelphia loan ended up raising enough money to buy two there field hospitals for french army. money goings of overseas for charity. i want to come back to this in just a minute. i want to quote mary roberts rinehart wartime. she described pittsburgh as "fattening on catastrophe" and one newspaper ran this headline -- have we a right to prosperity? in america profit from a war? can america profit from the suffering of others? what kind of nation does it make us question mark the british and the germans were highly critical of the united states as well. the british for making money off a war, and germany being
critical because the united states industrial and financial systems are essentially working for the benefit of the germans. when i was over and france iphone the wonderful quotation officerfrench senior refer to the united states as our great neutral ally. that was meant as a practicality and morality. most american money required british ships, british credit, british insurance. some americans gave much more money. there were volunteer americans -- some of them quite wealthy. not all of them quite wealthy, many of them quite healthy, who led their wealthy, comfortable lives in the united states, went to france, joined the french foreign legion, and then joined wouldghter squadron that fly in the french army. the guy who founded it, he is the guy holding the lion cub there. they had two lion cubs in the
whiskey and soda. his father was the president ought the pennsylvania railroad. he had one of the first privately owned airplanes in the united dates. he flew that plane underneath the brooklyn bridge, scaring quite a few people in new york, and this group, the lafayette as good drill is going to go on to compile a tremendous war record. and pr people on both sides of the atlantic ocean were quite quick to put -- to pick up on it. it was a great pr tool, showing the linkages between their two countries. theodore roosevelt gave the money. host lavish,to lavish parties. the french did not want to tell them what to do and they were not part of the american air force. i have a theory that this is part of where the fighter pilot mystique comes from. bath robesn their
because they did not know -- like the uniforms. whiskey and soda were trained when foreign dignitaries would be foreignit to not dignitaries down and growl, and when he was scared enough, whiskey or soda would let them on the forehead. and this is the memorial that is just west of paris. it's not that easy to get to. it was in really bad shape -- why is it jumping here? thank you. it was in pretty bad shape during the french government paid to clean it up and to do a lot with it. this is the memorial that they build to the lafayette as good drill. some of you may know this. froms and doctors came 4748 states to serve in france. there was a granddaughter of ulysses grant and the granddaughter of grover cleveland went over to care for the blinded french veterans. jpmorgan's daughter and morgan
began a tremendous life of philanthropy helping out the french. monument to little friendship. other people who were not famous were there. the point is, there is no equivalent to this in the central powers. i can't find any records. the only thing i can find are two doctors who served in the austrian army. one specifically wrote, i am not here to make a political statement. people areecause suffering. other people said, i am ready to give my life for friends. and some people do give their life for france. some in this photograph. ok, by 1917, americans had come a long, long way.
this is mary roberts rinehart again. i don't think anyone captured the zeitgeist better than did mary roberts rinehart. after germany declared it would resume unrestricted submarine warfare and after the zimmerman telegram came out that proved that was a real thing -- germany asking mexico to create a german-japanese-mexican alliance and if they weren't, invading the u.s., and that is serious stuff. i can tell the story if you want me to. it was not clear what president wilson was going to do. theodore roosevelt, when he saw the zimmerman telegram, said if wilson does not declare war now, i will go to the white house and skin him alive. political partisanship is not new, guys.
downroberts rinehart set in late february -- this is published in march, and she piece for "these saturday evening post." i think mary roberts rinehart is even better a distillation of what was going on. i want to start with that paragraph that begins written in france. the main theme of what she wrote was if the united states gets involved in this war, we cannot allow substitutions like we did in the civil war. she had two teenage boys. she knew what that meant. she knew it was likely they were going to fight. she wrote, in this vein, if we allow the few to fight for us, then as a nation we have died an hour ideals have died with us. the we win, if we have not all born this burden alike, then do we a lose. she also wrote, the reason the united states had to get involved in this war was britain and france shared parts of the american ideal. our democratic heritage came from them.
germany threatened those issues for it had broken loose something terrible, something that must be killed or the world dies. there are no higher stakes than that. and whether this looks good from 100 years or not, it is undoubted, it is unquestioned that most americans felt in 1917. the united states in her view had no choice but to enter into this horrible world war, a war whose cost she is seen with her own eyes, a war for which she knew united states people were not prepared. a war that the united states had still not developed strategic goals for. i want to end this with a new york city touch. not too far from here is times square and a statue that sits in
he wrotetimes square, his most famous song, until the 1950's and elvis came along, the most famous song in american history as he came from new rishel, new york two grand central station, where i went to escape a rainstorm today. the song was "over there. howe are two versions for he wrote the song. the one he wrote on the train is a little bit better. supposedly he went to the ring announcer and the ring announcer said, george, that is your hit. it is symbolic of two things to me. from 1917 toange 1915. there was a popular song "i did not raise my voice to be a soldier." it was a controversial song. roosevelt said anyone who likes songsong would also like a
that would say "i didn't raise my girl to be a mother." very strong gender beliefs for theodore roosevelt. however, after the sinking of the lusitania and the preparedness movement, even the rider backed away. he said, i did not mean for that song to suggest moral equivalence between germany and the united states. the second thing that i find interesting is there were four very popular reported versions of "over there" in 1970. the song was written by a wasp, a long-term american, and famous versions were sung by nora buys singer, in american rico caruso, the great american italian -- italian american opera singer. it shows the unity of americans
going into the first rolled war, that there were different versions for different communities, by the way with no government involvement it all. this is 1010 allie making money off of this. and there are no african-americans making money there are no african-americans. -- this is tin pan alley making money off of this. i want to finish with this and i will be happy to open it up to q&a. in my view, what the american people were doing was preventing the threat to their homes. stopping things like the zimmerman telegram from getting in the way. why is that important. we will commemorate the end of the first world war in 1911. .hat is the day we pick
they areer 12, 1918, saying stop the spending and get back to normalcy. commemorate the day that they treaty of versailles is signed. why that matters, i think, and why the book and the evidence in the book suggests, what the american people thought they were doing was stopping the threat to the united states. they did not think they were following woodrow on the journey to the treaty of her side. thank you, and i will be happy to take any questions you have. a oh, good. we have got a bunch. there is a microphone coming around. would like to point out it was about this time, 1915, there was a very lively invasion of american literature, and i have read a fair amount of it and it
is all anti-german. >> all of it. germansr specifies the or very carefully gets around it. there is one that reads just like that -- ruby red dawn. the army has failed, the government has failed, it is up to us. volume two, which is the defense of brooklyn. >> there you go. so, we had to bail you out. just kidding. i would never say that to a guy from brooklyn. thank you, michael. : did not exist. it had been off the map. if they came to the united states, they would be the largest population group. you did not mention polish americans. you can correct it if you are so inclined. it is significant because after
largerar i, poland was -- it is not a minor ethnic group. my hometown and again. you are absolutely right. >> the good thing about world war i is it ended for empires. in the french and the british empire. i am concerned when may have adopted some british values into the american military system. for example, in 1922, the crest thehe military academy, helmet was reversed, which may be significant or not, but duty, honor, country is an interesting motto. it makes more sense if it is the other way around. what good is duty without honor? prompted by ans appeal to heraldry by some
captain in the accident court in d.c. -- the adjutant corps in d.c. >> i'm not sure. they forced them to rethink from top to bottom everything they knew. i don't know if that is the case of the motto. theyuld not surprise me if looked at it top to bottom. there is a strong anti-british streak. most americans do not like the one thats, but we wanted to model the most -- they disliked us in the cousin we did.ousin ly way at the end of world war i, the were tight, tight ties between
the u.s. military academy and the academy of france. those go away by the second world war, but they are very strong in the first. >> two questions. first, is there any parallel withallied countries, french americans, russian americans, greek americans, italian americans having the same thing where they are having to prove that they are bona fide? and during the war, there is a official propaganda, so i wonder from there taking cues interwar or prewar stuff you have been talking about? >> ethic committees -- the british and french do not have because their loyalty their goals line up with the united states. russia is a more complicated case. the russian revolution is extremely important because it
proves to americans that the war might have the positive benefit of bringing democracy to russia, an issue we are not done with century later. people who come from eastern europe, the hope is if you can bring democracy to russia, create a poland that make sense, create a czechoslovakia that make sense, the war might have things that are positive you can pull away from it, just as americans would argue, the american civil war did. second question -- yes, he is not creating these out of thin air. on that she isp picking up on the militarism. he is picking up on the aristocratic nature of the german system. he is picking up on things that are definitely out there and i can talk about more of those things. is, why is the
traditional explanation -- because i have never heard your point of view before -- is very interesting, thank you -- that oureally all hinged on entry into the war, really hinged on unrestricted submarine warfare? if the british had done worse at jutland, is there any sense you have that the united states might not have ventured the war absent that? i'm not a historian. my standard answer is i only actuals with a scratch in front of me at a bar. i like to have evidence. the dominant point of view was we will support the french with everything that got, but this is not our fight. that view radically changes. it's because of the zimmerman
telegram. it's because of fears of sabotage. new york city mobilizes before the united states does to guard the bridges and the harbors. the new york national guard vies its own seaplanes to patrol the airspace over new york city -- before getting involved in the war. before unrestricted summary warfare, the dominant view is we will support it, we will provide the weapons, but it is still there fight, not ours. 1917 changes that. >> i have two questions. >> where are you questioner >> right here. i can't stand. first, the issue of the recent 30, 40 years of literature on the american intervention in the first world war stretches the fact that one of our weaknesses
was the overemphasis on marksmanship, the individual rifleman. wondering what take you have on that? and secondly as you mentioned earlier, they had the black tom explosion in new jersey. we have the espionage network and they tried to separate themselves from that. the impetusdering for the sedition act and the espionage act? law enforcement community in the new york-new jersey area had no doubt the germans were behind this. had no doubt. they had evidence. there is a wonderful, wonderful story that would take too long to tell. but essentially yield elevated train you had a new york, the german diplomat falls asleep on
that train, wakes up, realizes he is at the wrong stop, jumps out, the secret service guy grabs his bag and goes out the other side of the car with documents. they take the documents up to new hampshire. is. is where wilson it proves everything the police believed. but they could not do anything about because of jurisdictional issues, the laws on the books did not allow the police to do what they wanted to do. and wilson still as president says i don't want to be involved in this, so he gets the "the new york world." and they publish them in full. there is no doubt among, i would say the vast majority of americans that germany is behind this. whether it goes all the way to , wilson has to declare persona non grata, there is no doubt that germany is behind it. even if it takes until the 1980's to prove it in court.
everyhology shows that american boy knows how to shoot a rifle. everyone seriously involved in youdefense of this country that was ridiculous. you had to get to the point that you had to accept you had to train these guys. you had some people who are anti-preparedness -- william jennings bryan was one of these -- look, if the country faces an emergency, young men will volunteer. then you have military professionals saying, this is not the war of 1861, i don't think you know what you're talking about. we have to get rid of this and that. one of the things they are concerned about is the very unmartial attitude of most 1840 and 1850.in >> excellent talk. question first -- i'm not sure if you believe it, but -- i think you do, but i believe the being on telegram, encrypted and given to the we probably would not
get into the war. you can argue that. , the americans did not decrypt the zimmerman telegram. that was done by the british -- admiral hall, ok? bell,ey gave it to edward .ho was an american spy was there anyone you said in america, let's not release it? or did everyone realize this would get us into the war? >> everybody realized. the zimmerman telegram does not come out of nothing. the british are concerned if they release the zimmerman telegram the germans will know the british have broken the code. so they did something really
clever and sophisticated. there are two zimmerman telegram's. there is one from germany to washington, d.c. from the german navigation to washington. there is another that goes to the german legation to mexico city. they release the second one and the translation from german to spanish changes a couple words. they are assuming the germans will say, ok, the code was not broken. the mexicans were sloppy with security. then zimmerman himself is approached. hey, you did not write that stupid telegram, didou? zimmerman says, yes, i did. he knows they are going to get them. he knows by that point they are going to find out and he's thinking, ok, in this case, i can find out what the reaction of mexico and japan is going to be really quickly. they both back and say, no, we are not doing this. so, yeah, there is this wonderful, intricate back history. they have this wonderful in cell and the british do not want to
use it. they come up with this scheme to release the second version and it works. >> i recently read "a farewell to arms" by hemingway. he encounters a lot of italians in the american army? glad you asked that question. as you know, philadelphia and new york had immigrant aid societies that do not exist anymore for italian-americans. their job was to help them assimilate into american culture. 1950, what they do is change their mission to helping italians with officer commissions with military service that want to fight. it helps them get back to italy. they are helping tens of thousands of italians get back to italy to fight in the italian army.
the american government is wholly supportive. whatever we can do, we are going to do. desire to gohe back and serve in a cause that theunited states thinks is right cause. and you're absolutely right. they switch their mission. our job is to help those guys get back to italy. really glad you asked that question. fascinating footnote into a larger story. >> thank you for the reason tatian. do you want to go back and talk a little bit more about the expedition and how much it showed the u.s. military was unprepared? michael neiberg: unprepared. >> and the other thing about the talk about japan a little bit more. japan was still technically on the british side and doing things in the pacific. but still, the u.s. had a great concern about japan so talk about those two topics. michael neiberg: the second question first. my sense is a lot of this is west coast anti-japanese fears
and racism that has nothing to do with any great strategic worry. that is, no one in 1915 or 1916 is worried about the japanese landing in san francisco. what they are worried about is fifth colonists. whether they are saying they are worried about it any rate is, if we did go to war, there are all of these japanese americans and we don't know who they are and we don't know how to control them on the database. my guess is it's a reflex of racism much more than it is strategy. the first question, this is what drives the preparedness movement , too. they have the most photographic person in north america in 1916, and they can't find him. the government that we are trying to support, their troops are firing at american troops. and american newspapers are reporting poncho villa is on a hill laughing at how incompetent the american army is. so you know, sometimes the preparedness and these parades they would hold would have an anti-german flair and sometimes
an anti-mexican flair. and i don't want to get into this too much unless you guys really want me to, but some, kentucky filled in their national guard dispatchment with prisoners. south carolina let them go. this is an example of a main progressive theme that you don't do with something like 48 different states. roosevelt and others are yelling and screaming. the secretary of the army, lily garrison, we have to get rid of the national guard system. we have got to make a federal centralized system. the case of poncho villa proves that case. it becomes a major sticking point in 1916. it is one of the reasons the preparedness movement does not really do anything. because it stalls in congress because the congress is fighting over global versus control, a classic american problem. >> i once had the occasion to be driving in a car at fort dixon
in new jersey, and we came across edith street. but i want to ask you, did the british economic crisis, the financial crisis in 1917 have any effect on americans joining the war? michael neiberg: i don't think the united states that involved in the war to protect jpmorgan investments or economic issues at all. the controversies always came up when jpmorgan or some other financial giant would underwrite a gigantic loan. the question was, should the united states allow this much economic influence into a foreign-policy question? every time it happens, the answer is, it's ok. in other words, it's ok to make money. that is what we are going to do
here. the economic issue, to me, is really much more of three years of profiting, three years of making money off of this war puts the united states in position to really bring money to the table. that is what happens by 1917. there is nothing to the 1930's charge that is economics that got us in. it complicates the reason, but it is not the primary reason. >> coming from one of the most german states in the country, wisconsin, they changed some of the towns. berlin became new berlin. there was pressure to stop speaking german in certain parts of states. and in other places, that was ridiculous. my father went to a one country schoolhouse where it was required the teacher to teach both german and english. the catechism wasn't taught in german. how widespread was that kind of pressure? michael neiberg: it is not actually widespread at all before the entry into the war. once america gets into the work, it is spotty. you can find cases where school districts take german out of the
curriculum. but you also find are a lot of german-americans who are arguing, this is what you should do. there is no point teaching these people german. they need to learn american, they need to learn english, they need to become americans fully. it is not a black and white thing we have depicted it. there are prominent german-americans who are arguing, make them american. get the german language out of them. make them learn english in the schools. if they want to learn german at home, they can learn german at home. that is building before the war, and the war just increases it. it is spotty, depending on where you are, when you are. i can never find evidence before 1917. >> hi. the war required an unprecedented economic mobilization, unprecedented reach of national power and the economic and military spheres. i think many of the things touched very ably upon federal power in terms of preparedness,
but to what extent was the reach federal power in terms of mobilizing the country for total war and the sentiment? did that play a role in people for or against the war? michael neiberg: you may or may not know this. i started doing the research for this book. when world war i began, there was no law that prevented a european company or government from selling its stocks in the united states, converting them to gold, and taking the gold out. so as early as mid-july, the early to mid july, the united states is facing a crisis where it could literally run out of gold. ok? an enormous problem, as you can imagine, at a time when the gold standard is still the basis. the united states government took the unbelievably unprecedented step of shutting down every stock market in the united states from july until october, 1914. the new york stock exchange
closed from july to october 1914. the only reason it was able to reopen is that the congress finally agreed to pass the federal reserve act. that progressive innovation that everybody thought was going to be the end and ruin the united states. or its opponents did. now you have a situation where you need new economic tools to prevent this economic disaster from happening. and the federal reserve act becomes the wedge, i guess, that the wilson administration uses. once the gold crisis is past, and the treasury puts on these enormous parades were they have trucks going down the road with gold to your local bank, if you needed money, you could do it. confidence building measures, because at that time, all money is based on gold. so i don't know which side it is, but -- slide it is, but that one. that is another important
significance of this. the gold that went that way is now coming this way. after the gold crisis, wilson's reluctance to use economic instruments for all kinds of reasons i can get into if you really want to. he was very reluctant at the paris peace conference after the war as well in a way that harry truman was not. truman was perfectly ready to go to the europeans and say, you need money, we have money, this is how we are going to do it. that was not woodrow wilson's way. in the gold crisis, they did things no american government ever thought about doing. but wilson treads lightly. once the war starts, then you have got to think about things in a different way. it's a complicated question. >> yeah, it sounds like [indiscernible] michael neiberg: well, they are, but they are assuming the private sector will do it. >> same thing at the beginning. michael neiberg: correct. correct. allow jpmorgan to make his loans.
it may not be the best thing in the world. it may tie american policy to british foreign policy, but it is better than the government printing money and doing it that way. that kind of attitude. yes, sir. >> can you explain how the mechanics of declaring the war, you know, how the actions came about? i imagine they ask the congress to declare war? how long the debate, what was the result? michael neiberg: there was so much pressure on wilson, so much of his cabinet members write in their private letters, if wilson does not take this country to war, i have to resign. that included his son-in-law, the secretary of the treasury. there was tremendous pressure. as i said, new york state mobilizes. new york city mobilizes. places are telling wilson, congress passed a law authorizing wilson to do
everything short of war. in other words, basically handing the president a blank check. right? what they wanted him to do was come to them and ask for the declaration of war that they very much wanted to give him with a couple of exceptions. so he held a meeting with his cabinet. he asked everybody's opinion around the room. what do you guys think we should do? every single member of the cabinet votes for war in late march. all wilson says is, thank you, gentlemen, i have heard what you have to say, and he walks out of the room. the advisors are writing, if he does not go to war now, i can't be a part of this government. we can't do anything. and then wilson writes -- i am kind of hard on wilson, i came to dislike the guy, but the declaration of war speech that he gave in april is brilliant. i mean, i tell my students at the army war college, it is the single most american thing ever written. it talks about regime change, it talks about going to war against government, not people. it talks about creating a better war -- a better peace out of the war. it talks about creating international linkages. it's beautiful. it's beautiful. that's what congress wanted him to do. idol that he could have just walked in and said, hey, guys, let's go, and congress would have voted for it. congress is pushing for him, not the other way around. >> [inaudible] michael neiberg: it is a week
from the moment wilson says, i really want to discuss this with my cabinet, until he goes and -- >> [inaudible] michael neiberg: no, there is no voting. there is voting in the congress. there are two senators. you can look it up easily enough. it is a small number vote that vote against the declaration of war. it is very small. >> yeah, hi. michael neiberg: hi. >> i heard after the revolutionary war, there were a lot of german prussians in the united states, they did not know if they should make the official language english or german and a -- and it was a german voted possibly to make it english. if that was true and we were speaking german, what with the outlook be on the war? michael: benjamin franklin wanted the language to be hebrew because it was a non-european language. [laughter] michael neiberg: a lot of stuff was under discussion. we could be speaking yiddish here. mom, if you're watching on c-span, i got that right. you know, i mean, the point for german-americans is assimilation.
it is the point that german-american leaders talk about a lot in 1914 to 1917. we might be german-americans, but we are americans first. just like woodrow wilson proudly called himself irish does not mean his loyalty is to scotland. does not mean his loyalty is to the united kingdom. that is the argument that they are making. >> and first, the lusitania was carrying munitions, and that is the reason the germans gave for blowing it up. michael neiberg: nobody in the united states fought that. if an airliner went -- i should say very few people, i should say. if an airliner went down tomorrow with americans on it flying on vacation to rome, if it later came out that there was something in the cargo hold that should not have been there, i don't think many americans would say there for everyone on the plane deserved to die. it was the same thing in 1915. it was legal and the people that were traveling with their babies to london could not possibly have known that.
yes, it's true. i don't think it matters. >> i see. thank you. the second is that, there was a lot of passion movements that evolved in this country around these issues including henry ford. what motivated that? third question, related to that, is that, historians generally conclude that we had as much reason to support germany as we did -- michael neiberg: i think that is wrong. i think that's wrong. i'm sorry. i interrupted your question. >> that was the question. is that true? michael neiberg: the pacifist movement in the u.s., some people are genuine pacifists who can see the horror of what is going on in europe. nothing can come of this, it is not worth the cost. there are people who argue that the united states should stay out of it. after the lusitania, after black tom, after all this stuff
happens, they dwindle in numbers. so that andrew preston, a brilliant historian, a canadian historian teaching now at cambridge, believes that by the end of 1916, the pacifist movement in the united states is really down to individuals you can spot and name. in other words, there is no national movement, right, because they are so out of step. everybody agrees war is horrible, we get that, but again, staying neutral, staying pacifist has not helped. to your other point, most americans also don't see the german government, the german form of government, german form of society, as what they want to identify with.
and again, here is the key difference. the german people the americans have no problems with. this will be an issue in the postwar period too when the u.s. goes into the occupation zone in the rhine river. they need each other. the aristocratic system germans are running is absolutely anathema to what americans want to do. so wilson's demand at the end of the war, when they begin negotiations over an armistice, wilson's demand is first you have to get rid of the kaiser, get rid of the aristocrats, and you have to put a democratic system in place. i won't negotiate with the system you have. you have got to change the system. most americans are fully supportive of that. it is similar to the end of world war ii. flushing out the whole german system is not something the americans think they need to do. change who is in power. change the nature of the political representation, and you are fine. who's got the mic? yes, sir. >> ok. looking at the amount of speaking about what happens with belgians after the german invasion of belgium, looking to 1969, i can't help but feel what an audacity it was -- what the
belgians did in the congo. michael neiberg: in the congo, right, sure. >> 2016, it feels a lot like -- [indiscernible] michael neiberg: that may certainly be true from our perspective a century later, but there was no doubt that in 1914, 1915, the belgians were very sympathetic victims of german aggression. they were people that had to be helped. colombia -- i did some research in colombia. columbia led a movement. the germans burned the belgian university town of luven. columbia led the movement to replace every book that was lost. there was deep support for belgium in the united states. you are absolutely right that the nation was a violent,
terrible, imperialist nation when it came to africa. but there were innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. and the most famous character who comes out of this who comes to britain not the united states, agatha christie's great detective is a belgian refugee who comes to london. and if you guys know the agatha christie movies and books, anytime anyone describes him as french, he gets very upset. what agatha christie is doing is reminding people what happened to the belgians. >> so it is clear that earlier when the u.s. did not want to go to war, but how much of an advocate were they for peace? were there formal actions by wilson to try to broker peace? did they ever really have any chance at all? michael neiberg: yeah, after he was reelected in 1916 by a razor thin margin like 250 votes in california tipped it, in an election that had almost nothing to do with the war, nothing to
do with the war, wilson decided to take another shot at it. he went to the european governments, and he said, give me what your war aims are, and more tell me what it is you are fighting for and we will negotiate it. we will serve as the mediators as theodore roosevelt had done to win the first american nobel peace prize. william jennings bryan thought that was what he was trying to do. get the nobel peace prize. the problem is, the germans did not even respond, and the french and british said, if the germans don't respond, we are not going to put our cards on the table. the reality is there was nothing to negotiate. it is a different book that i wrote, but this isn't a war over who controls the coalfields. this was a different kind of conflict. there was nothing to negotiate. wilson comes to the realization at the end of 1916. this will happen when one side is exhausted on the other side is less exhausted. we want the winning side to be the british and french.
>> there was a treaty of berlin. we did not sign on to versailles because of the league of nations. is there any reason we could not have forced that in 1935? we could have, fdr could have said, because that was enough leverage for us, france and poland interfered with what germany was doing. was fdr not able to summon the will to enforce that treaty? michael neiberg: again, different talk, different book. the debate in the united states is a term that we have misunderstood. the debate in the united states after world war i is whether the u.s. should develop or be a part of these international institutions like wilson wanted, the league of nations is one, but not the only one. or whether it wanted to be isolationist. that is the term we have misunderstood. isolationist in the 1920's did
not mean ignore europe. it meant interact with europe on a unilateral basis. in other words, we are america, we will deal with the world the way we want to deal with the world. we will deal with the world without these in tangling alliances like george washington wanted us to avoid. that is what henry cabot lodge and others are arguing against the treaty of versailles. that is the objection that they raised, that if you have this international system, then a war between poland and czechoslovakia could drive the united states in to a war that we don't want to fight. the 1930's are far more complicated. i guess what i would say there is a country deeply and depression, deeply divided domestically was in no position to interfere in a productive way. him the other thing i might say, america's great power has normally been economics. and i am talking about the world war ii period.
until 1942, 1943. in 1935 that instrument of power just isn't there. yes, ma'am. >> i am surprised you said no one could have known there were armaments on the lusitania. because the germans had taken great pains to take out ads in newspapers warning people. michael neiberg: they did. >> and in fact when the new york public library recently did an exhibit on world war i, that failed to mention that and they got quite a few questions. but my real question -- and i came in late, so forgive me if you addressed this, in reading books on world war i, i have been puzzled to try to understand why germany got so much of the blame when it seemed to me austria had really been the problem because of the way it treated serbia. and i really wonder how much -- but then the latest book i read, blamed britain for instigating it through diplomacy diplomats in russia and france trying to encircle germany.
so, i wonder how much of our understanding of world war i is colored by world war ii and the way we read the germans from that point of view. michael neiberg: so the first thing that i would say, it is quite clear, it is painfully obvious, most americans blame germany. the reason is they believe, and -- i will try to do it quickly. if i don't do it well enough, catch me afterward. i will explain it a little more. the shooting of the archduke in june of 1914, nobody cares about. nobody in europe, nobody in the united states. nobody cares about it. germany however took that small diplomatic crisis and encouraged austria to make a world war out of it. to most americans, the crisis is on the danube, and it is a diplomatic crisis. not a military crisis. i don't believe great britain has any responsibility, nor do i believe france has any responsibility for what happens next. austria decided, for reasons i can get into if you really would like me to, to take this small
crisis and escalate it into a major, major crisis. the reason they do is because for the first time in decades, austria-hungary is the victim, not the perpetrator of crises in the balkans. it is an opportunity that will not come again. what did germany do with that opportunity? it claimed it was mobilizing armed forces because russia was coming at them. then it sends them into belgium and france. to most americans, the only explanation for that is that the aristocracy has goals of its own, and it is sending people into this slaughter on the western front and sending europe into a series of slaughters for goals that nobody understands except the german aristocracy. the dominant american view is if you get rid of the idiots that are running germany, this problem won't come back. and again, it's the same thing we do in 1945. the problem is not germany. we will let volkswagen go right back to what it is doing.
we will take just a small number of people in nuremberg and hang them. nothing wrong with the german people. we were just need to give them democracy, coca-cola and kroger, and they will be fine. that is the dominant attitude. most americans, and i would concur wholeheartedly, britain and france have nothing to do with this. this war did not begin on the rhine river over the border between germany and france. this war did not begin because france wanted to get out some of the rhine back. france is in the war for the most noble reason of all. another army crossed their border, which is what sustains french morale in 1914 that it -- i can get into all of this much more if you want. i don't buy this thing about britain at all. britain was pursuing its state interest, but the crisis that occurs on the danube, the british say over and over again, it has nothing to do with us, unless either britain or france -- excuse me, either germany or france -- trust me.
if either germany or france decides to take over the belgian coastline. the reason britain wants belgian neutral is so nobody else can use it against them, and the reason france moves slowly, one one reason france moves slowly is because the british made it clear they are no happier with france controlling the coastline than they are germany. one side is clearly acting in defense, the other is clearly not. >> is it true that pershing wanted to keep troops on german soil after the war? michael neiberg: he did. >> he said it would delay world war ii by 20 years? michael neiberg: he did not say that. he said he thought it was important to drive home to the germans that they had lost. as good as that argument looks in retrospect, nobody was willing to do it with him, including woodrow wilson. nobody was willing, for very sound political reasons to take the victory you got and risk throwing it away by putting an army into germany itself. >> ok, one more question.
they had the spanish influenza. michael neiberg: yes. >> in 1918. could that have been germ warfare from germany? michael neiberg: no. we actually now know quite a bit from the spanish influenza. it probably started in kansas, fort riley, kansas, probably. >> how influential was hl mencken? we read about him, but that is hindsight. can you give us some other important people behind mary roberts rinehart who were influential? michael neiberg: pick of the book and look in the index. [laughter] mary is a good example of these german americans are making the point over and over again, my grandparents were german, but it does not meet my loyalty is there. almost any america living in this time was writing and talking about this. the most important event of their lives.
there's a newspaper publisher who owned one of the new york newspapers. they are in the indiana lili library, and we are fascinated by the german-americans negotiating this stuff. theodore roosevelt had a regular column in "the kansas city star," which is great to read because of the nasty things he says about wilson. it is a lot of fun. it actually makes the rhetoric of today's campaign look not all that bad. a lot of americans are writing. i don't know if i can give you too many names off the top of my head, but i tried to quote as many of them in the book as i could. who's got the mic? >> yeah, the one central power you don't talk about, the turks. it is more about modern concern, for muslim americans, is there anything where they are getting attacked, essentially, as potential enemies, subversives? michael neiberg: not as much because everyone understands the
ottoman empire is a diverse place, much more diverse -- i should not put it that way. americans understand the empire as this incredibly complicated web of people. the armenians elicit quite a bit of sympathy. you know, but for the most part, the ottoman empire is seen as kind of this backward thing that also needs to be modernized. you may know this. at the paris peace conference, the british and french wanted the united states to take over mandates in palestine and wilson absolutely refused to do that. >> professor, was there anybody on the american side who spoke as negatively about the creation of the polish corridor as david lloyd george did in england, who warned about the potential for chaos and violence in the -- if these enclaves where germans were left in isolated areas, and what they created in poland?
michael neiberg: yeah, the peace conference is another incredibly complicated topic. what they're trying to do is create states that can really do three things. they can be economically sufficient, in other words, be able to feed themselves and contribute to the economy. they have to be strategically sound, and they have to be able to defend themselves, and they have to be ethnically sound. that is almost impossible to do. things like the polish corridor are created to try to square that circle. i think the best critic is the guy who said almost nothing in public, everything is in private papers. unfortunately the private papers or where i work, and that was an american general who was at the paris peace conference and he tried to warn the american delegation, especially wilson, that what they were doing was never ever going to work, and no one wanted to listen to him. because he was giving them bad news. but you can read john maynard keen, the british economist, who was unbelievably critical of
what was going on. he left the paris peace conference and wrote one of the most famous books of the time period. my favorite is william bullitt. the first american ambassador to the soviet union. he left the peace conference early because of the reasons you are articulating. he wrote -- i'm going to the south of france to watch the world go to hell. there were plenty of people who could see what was coming. there was no way to envision who could do this. thank you, everybody. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, tonight at 8:00 eastern on lectures and history. >> the only difference between jewsokia mob hunting down
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