Here are a few French thoughts regarding America's late arrival in the war and some additional opinions on the matter of Uncle Sam's inflated ego.
Click here to read an article by a grateful Frenchman who was full of praise for the bold and forward-thinking manner in which America entered the First World War.
Perhaps in his haste to be the reliable cynic, H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) decided to ignore the haphazard nature of industrial warfare and indulged in some Darwinian thinking. There is no doubt that this column must have infuriated the Gold Star Mothers of W.W. I, who were still very much a presence at the time this opinion piece appeared, and it can also be assumed that the veterans of The American Legion were also shocked to read Mencken's words declaring that:
"The American Army came home substantially as it went abroad. Some of the weaklings were left behind, true enough, but surely not all of them. But the French and German Armies probably left them all behind. The Frenchman who got through those bitter four years was certainly a Frenchman far above the average in vigor and intelligence..."
The intended readers for the attached article were the newly initiated members of the American Legion (ie. recently demobilized U.S. veterans), who might have had a tough time picturing a Paris that was largely free of swaggering, gum-chewing Doughboys gallivanting down those broad-belted boulevards, but that is what this journalist, Marquis James (1891 - 1955) intended. At the time of this printing, the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force) had been shaved down from 4,000,000 to half that number and re-christened the A.F.F. (American Forces in France) and the A.F.G. (American Forces in Germany). With a good bit of humor, the article concentrates on the antics of the American Third Army in Germany as they performed their "Bolshevist busting" duties in the Coblenz region.
With the close of the war came the release of millions of combat veterans onto the streets of the world. Some of these veterans adjusted nicely to the post-war world - but many had a difficult time. Their maladjustment was called Shell Shock and it could manifest itself in any number of ways; in the attached article, written less than a year after the war, one anonymous American veteran explained his own personal encounter with the illness.
Click here to read a post-W.W. I poem about combat-related stress...
"One of the most sinister results of the war has been a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. Recent dispatches from Berlin describe street demonstrations against Jews and speak of "a veritable pogrom atmosphere" in Munich and Budapest. In Poland, Jewish blood has flown freely, amid scenes of horror described by Herman Bernstein and other writers in American newspapers. In Ukraine the number of Jews massacred during the early part of the present year is estimated anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000."
Ten years after America entered the First World War, thrice elected French Prime-Minister André Tardieu (1876 – 1945) put pen to paper and came up with a book about the complicated relations between France and the United States "Devant l'Obstacle" (1927):
"They go on repeating the words 'American friendship' without realizing that America as a nation does not want friendships, and separates herself from her political associates the moment she can do so, as unceremoniously as she did in 1919, when she signed a separate peace with Germany. Few French students know or remember that less than twenty years after Lafayette left the American shores, America was at war with the country to which she virtually owed her freedom..."
Click here to read another article in which André Tardieu slanders the Americans.
Click here should you wish to read good thoughts by a Frenchman concerning America's entry into W.W. I.