World War I in Lawrence: Registration of ‘German alien enemies’ begins

Since its founding, Lawrence had been very welcoming to settlers of German origin, but this attitude was undergoing a big change in early 1918. This week, the time span of Feb. 4-9 was announced for “the registration of German alien enemies in Lawrence…. For this purpose the police station in the City Hall will be open each day during the time designated…. All natives, citizens, denizens, subjects of the German Empire or of the Imperial German Government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upward, must register. This does not include females, but includes German subjects in Alsace-Lorraine subsequent to May 10, 1871, or in Schleswig-Holstein subsequent to August 23, 1866. Naturalization of alien enemies cannot be completed during the period of the war.” A registration card would be provided to each registrant.

Anyone specified within these parameters who failed to register was to be subject to “restraint, imprisonment, and detention for the duration of the war, or to give security, or to remove and depart from the United States.” It was possible that “other penalties prescribed by law” would be levied as well.

At least one Lawrence resident went public with his objections. “Gus H. Brune, who is a loyal American citizen, although of German birth, is of the opinion that a very large majority of the German population of Douglas county is just as loyal as the native born citizens, and regrets that the acts of any should cast any reflection upon the much greater number who are all right. ‘If any of the Germans are dissatisfied with this government, they should leave it as soon as possible,’ said Mr. Brune. Gus Brune has been a resident of Douglas county for many years and is one of the most successful farmers in the community. He has reared a large family and his sons have, several of them, started out for themselves and are doing well.”