Title: Last Call
Author: Daniel Okrent
The most horrifying single example of anti-German hysteria was described by historian David M Kennedy in Over Here, his history of the home front during World War I:
Near St. Louis in April 1918, a mob seized Robert Prager, a young man whose only discernible offense was to have been born in Germany.
He had, in fact, tried to enlist in the American navy but had been rejected for medical reasons.
Stripped, bound with an American flag, dragged barefoot and stumbling through the streets, Prager was eventually lynched to the lusty cheers of five hundred patriots.
A trial of the mob’s leaders followed, in which the defendants wore red, white, and blue ribbons to court, and the defense counsel called their deed “patriotic murder.”
The jury took twenty-five minutes to return a verdict of not guilty.
It is amazing what people will do when whipped up to a frenzy.
What amazes me is that days and weeks later they can justify themselves in a public trial.