About Scranton Wochenblatt. (Scranton, Pa.) 1865-1918
Scranton, Pa. (1865-1918)
- Scranton Wochenblatt. : (Scranton, Pa.) 1865-1918
- Place of publication:
- Scranton, Pa.
- Geographic coverage:
- Friedrich Wagner
- Dates of publication:
- -Jahrg. 54, Nr. 35 (29. Aug. 1918).
- Began in Jan. 1865.
- German Americans--Pennsylvania--Newspapers.
- German Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00941308
- Scranton (Pa.)--Newspapers.
- "Demokratische," <1876>.
- Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
- Description based on: Jahrg. 5, Nr. 1 (7. Jan. 1869).
- In German; some notices in English.
- sn 86053936
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- First Issue Last Issue
The Scranton Wochenblatt, edited and published by Friederich Wagner, was a weekly German language newspaper, published in Scranton, Pennsylvania, from January 1865 through August 1918. In the masthead for the January 10, 1901 issue, the Wochenblatt boasted the largest circulation of any German newspaper in Lackawanna County. Circulation peaked at 1,250 in 1910, and remained at 1,200 in 1918, the final year of publication.
Editor/owner Friedrich Wagner was born in Anweiler, Germany, in 1838, and came to the United States with his father Joseph. Wagner learned the printing trade from Robert Baur of Wilkes-Barre and founded the Scranton Wochenblatt in 1865. The Wagner family was involved with the Wochenblatt throughout its existence, with the exception of 1876-80, when August Stutzbach was editor and proprietor. Frederick A. Wagner, son of the elder Friederich, took over the paper in 1891 and remained “proprietor and publisher.”
The eight-page Wochenblatt was the oldest and longest-running German language newspaper in Scranton. Its political sympathies were usually Democratic or Independent. Prior to World War One, the Scranton Wochenblatt focused mainly on local affairs, although each issue had national and international sections. National news coverage differed little from that in English language newspapers. International news stories stressed developments of “general interest” in the German states, with little mention of politics. Columns and features included serial novels, recipes, human interest stories and in-depth articles on culture and religion. Advertisements were similar to those found in other American newspapers, except in German.
Much changed after the outbreak of World War One. Like other German-American newspapers, the Wochenblatt expressed a marked sympathy for the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Empire) and was suspicious of the members of the Triple Entente (France, Britain, Russia)--especially Tsarist Russia. The Wochenblatt stood apart from her sister papers, publicly expressing “deep personal sympathy” for the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph after the assassination of his grandson Franz Ferdinand in 1914. As the war continued, the German-American newspapers’ original objectivity shifted to an increasingly defensive posture. For example, when a German submarine sank the Lusitania in 1915, German-American newspapers noted the 1,198 lives (including 119 Americans) that were lost. However, they also observed that the British liner was also carrying arms. One headline read “Many Munitions on Board. Passengers. Warned Before Departure.” The Wochenblatt openly sided with the Central Powers when it characterized Italy’s declaration of war on Austria in 1915 as an act of “treason.”
Recognizing that the sympathies of the Wilson Administration lay with the Entente, the German-American press focused its energies on preserving American neutrality. German-language newspapers tried to counter British propaganda by presenting positive images of Kaiser Wilhelm and the German people. However, their message did not extend beyond their own German-American readers. After America’s entry into the War in April 1917, German-American newspapers responded with expressions of American loyalty. But given popular hatred of all things German, the strategy was of little use. Like many of its sister newspapers, the Wochenblatt was forced to close its operations. The last issue on August 29, 1918, explained that “No newspaper can exist without sufficient advertisements.” With “everything German” under suspicion, advertising had dried up. The Wochenblatt declared thatits only alternative was to shut its doors until “once again . . . things German will be respected.”
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