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“Appeal to the Germans in Ontario” (12 August 1914)

One week after Canada’s declaration of war, the Berliner Journal published this appeal, giving advice to German residents about how to behave in wartime to minimize tension between themselves and Anglo-Canadians. The writers suggested keeping calm and avoiding confrontations or arguments with people of other national identities. The article urged German-Canadians to hide their opinions about the European conflict, and to remain grateful to be integrated citizens in Canada, able to work and enjoy freedom.

BJ-1914-08-12-Appeal to the Germans in Ontario

(“Aufruf an die Deutschen in Ontario”, Berliner Journal, 12 August 1914)


German spies (12 August 1914)

Almost immediately following the outbreak of war, rumours began to surface about two supposed German spies operating in Canada. Already, but August 12, 1914, several German reservists living in Canada were arrested and interrogated about their plans during the war. If they wouldn’t tell the authorities anything, they would be imprisoned.

This was just the beginning of a trend in Canada in which men were accused of being supposed German spies, and the numbers of wrongly arrested Germans grew throughout the war. Later on, the Berliner Journal reported on separate attacks on a railroad bridge between Maine and New Brunswick and a dynamite explosion in Walkerville in 1915. Germans were immediately suspected in both cases.

When the war began, immigration from Germany ceased abruptly and before the war’s end some 8,500 German-Canadians and Austro-Hungarians would be interned at prison camps and work camps in Canada. (McLaughlin, K.M. The Germans in Canada. Ottawa: Keystone Printing & Lithographing Ltd., 1985. Print. P. 12)

An article from December, 2nd 1914 in German and English told the readers how to behave with supposed spies and gave rules about what to do, when someone seemed to be a spy.


BJ-1914-08-12-German spies






(“Deutsche Spione in Petawawa verhaftet”, Berliner Journal, 12 August 1914; McLaughlin, K.M. The Germans in Canada. Ottawa: Keystone Printing & Lithographing Ltd., 1985. Print. P. 12; „Die Canada Gazette“, Berliner Journal, 2 December 1914; „Am vorigen Dienstag…“, Berliner Journal, 10 February 1915; „Dynamit-Explosion in Walkerville“, Berliner Journal, 23 June 1915)


No more trade with Germany and Austria-Hungary (12 August 1914)

Beginning on August 8 1914, an embargo was placed on Canada’s new enemies, so that no Canadian was allowed to trade goods or conduct business with Germany or Austria-Hungary. These activities were forbidden with the threat of imprisonment for those who broke the law.

The telegraph cables between the USA and Germany were cut so that there was no more connection between the two countries.

Articles in the Journal also revealed that at the beginning of the war there had been warnings of rising prices for groceries and that the war would not help the Canadian economy, but harm it. On August 19 1914, it was said that the prices for bread had significantly increased.

On August 26 1914 the Berliner Journal announced that they were no longer able to send issues of their newspaper to subscribers in Germany or Austria-Hungary, because the mail traffic had been severed.

BJ-1914-08-12-No more trade with Germany and Austria-Hungary

(“Kein Geschäft mit Deutschland und Österreich“, Berliner Journal, 12 August 1914; „Als eine Folge des Krieges…“, Berliner Journal, 19 August 1914; „Nach Deutschland und Österreich…“, Berliner Journal, 26 August 1914)


Orders for factories in Waterloo and Berlin (19 August 1914)

As a manufacturing town, Berlin’s economy was expanded because of the war. Immediately after the war began, factories in Waterloo and Berlin received contracts worth $150,000 to produce goods and clothes for the Canadian soldiers.

Canadian boot suppliers even hoped to gain a portion of the orders to manufacture boots for the Italian army, but the reporter believed that these types of foreign contracts would more likely be given to enterprises in the United States .

BJ-1914-08-12-Orders for factories in Waterloo and Berlin

(„150000$ in Kriegslieferungen für Berliner und Waterlooer Fabriken“, Berliner Journal, 19 August 1914; „Neue Kriegslieferungen in Canada“, Berliner Journal, 9 June 1915)


The opinion of the Berliner Journal (19 August 1914)

The publishers of the Berliner Journal wanted to make sure that their readers knew they were trying to remain neutral, and did not judge the decisions of world powers simply from a German perspective. Their goal as publishers was to create a neutral German-Canadian newspaper to support German culture in Canada, but not to follow a specific political platform. They also emphasized their understanding of the Anglo-Canadian desire to help Great Britain. The publishers at the Journal expected that the Canadian government would do everything to support the German population in Canada, but realized that would not protect Germans from the negative reactions of some of their neighbours, of course.

BJ-1914-08-19-The opinion of the Berliner Journal

(“Der englische, französische, russische Krieg gegen Deutschland und Österreich“, Berliner Journal, 19 August 1914)


German-Canadians in Europe (September 1914)

Several Waterloo region citizens of German origin had been in Europe when they were surprised by the outbreak of the war. In September 1914, the Berliner Journal reported on their problems trying to get back to Canada. Most of them had to stay in Europe longer than expected as the ships did not sail. Nevertheless, they sent letters home to inform the community of their whereabouts. Later that year, a Canadian citizen of German origin who was travelling through Europe when the war broke out returned to Waterloo and reported that he had been arrested in Germany due to his Canadian citizenship. After several weeks he was allowed to return home but had to follow a specific route, otherwise he would have been arrested again.

BJ-1914-09-02-German-Canadians in Europe

(“Von den Berlinern” Berliner Journal, 02 September 1914; “Wieder daheim” Berliner Journal, 23 September 1914; “Die Erlebnisse” Berliner Journal, 06 January 1915)


Proclamation of the Government (2 September 1914)

In September, the Berliner Journal printed a proclamation from the Canadian government, stating that “all persons in Canada of German or Austro-Hungarian nationality quietly pursuing their ordinary vocations would be allowed to continue to enjoy the protection of the law,” whereas soldiers, officers, people trying to leave the country, and those who “engage in espionage”, or any other suspicious behavior, would be arrested.

The German population therefore was worried about their safety, “freedom to hold property or to carry on business”, and possible resentment they faced. Two weeks later the government released a public notice, stating that “so long as [persons in Canada of German or Austro-Hungarian nationality] respect the law” they were protected by the law and had “nothing to fear”.

Furthermore, the editors of the Berliner Journal calmed their readership down. They clarified that only property of immigrants who were not naturalized, i.e. did not have the Canadian citizenship, would be confiscated. They justified the proclamation by explaining the difficult situation due to the war. However, they recommended to their readers that they become naturalized in order to prevent further problems.

BJ-1914-08-12-German spies

(“Proklamation” Berliner Journal, 2 September 1914; “Oeffentliche Bekanntmachung” Berliner Journal, 16 September 1914; “Unser Artikel“ Berliner Journal, 30 September 1914)


The War and German Immigrants (9 September 1914)

On September 2, the Berliner Journal published an article about the difficult situation of German-Canadians. The editors encouraged their readership to stay calm and not provoke their fellow citizens. By emphasizing that their new homeland provided very good living conditions and that they were treated well by their Canadian neighbours, the editors made it clear that being loyal towards the country they lived in was important as loyalty and honesty were well-known German attributes. They stated that most of the German-Canadians were born in Canada and therefore did not have a strong connection to their German origins. Other immigrants who had just migrated to Canada should acknowledge the fact that they were treated well and therefore should be loyal too. The editors tried to be mediators: By encouraging the German-Canadians to stay neutral and explaining the situation they wanted to protect the German community.

BJ-1914-09-09-The War and German Immigrants

(“Der Krieg und die eingewanderten Deutschen” Berliner Journal, 09 September 1914)


Tobacco and Cigars for German Army (16 September 1914)

On September 16, the Berliner Journal printed a short notice from Berlin, Germany. German Crown Prince Wilhelm had sent a telegram to Waterloo, asking the German newspaper to print it. He wanted the German population to collect “large amounts of tobacco and cigars” for his army and have them sent to Germany.

BJ-1914-09-16-Tobacco and Cigars

(“Kronprinz Wilhelm” Berliner Journal, 16 September 1914)