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Pro-German Letter Raises American Legion Hackles

The First World War had been over for nearly a year, but anti-German sentiment was still strong in Southern Oregon.  Louis Neidermeyer, a prosperous farmer from Nebraska whose parents were German, came under attack from the American Legion Post 15 of Medford.

It happened after the Pacific Weekly Herald newspaper printed a letter from Neidermeyer that included a newspaper article from the Nachrichten, a German language paper in Portland. The article purported to present the German side, suggesting that Germany was organized along the lines of the United States, and that American prisoners had been treated so well that America may have joined the wrong side in the war.

The Legion Post, in the name of “100 percent Americanism,” called on the U. S. Department of Justice to investigate the supposed YMCA employee who had originally written the article. The local Merchants Association and other American Legion posts supported resolutions condemning the newspaper and Neidermeyer and calling for his resignation from the Farmers and Fruitgrowers Bank.

The next day Neidermeyer resigned as a director of the bank to avoid jeopardizing the business he had nourished for several years, but he didn’t change his position on Germany.

Sources: "Medford Legion Nails Propaganda as Un-American." Medford Mail Tribune 23 Sept. 1919: 6. Print. "L. Neidermeyer Resigns Place in Local Bank." Medford Mail Tribune 24 Sept. 1919: 6. Print.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.