The enemy during one war and then the saviors for the next

Mayor Beussman talks about the historical prejudice faced by many New Ulmers.

Audio Chapters

RB: You may or may not know, but in World War I, our city had a meeting and our citizens begged to have a letter written that said our young men will go to war, join the military, but please don’t send us to Germany to shoot our uncles, brothers, cousins. Our mayor was removed from office, the president of the college was removed from office, one of our judges was removed from office, somebody else was – there were at least four people that the State of Minnesota removed from office because we were anti-American in New Ulm. We produced more wheat here which was turned into flour than Minneapolis. The United States troopers were stationed around the mill because they were sure that the New Ulm residents were going to burn it because we so hated the American government because we were fighting Germany. During World War II most of our German-speaking citizens ended up as translators and interrogators because they could speak the language. All of a sudden, the attitude become “Oh, we need you.” Here again, prejudice because somebody’s a little bit different.

DL: Isn’t that ironic, because the Code Talkers from Minnesota [acted as translators]. It wasn’t just Navajo, it was also Ojibwe and I’m pretty sure it was Dakota too.

RB: Very likely.

DL: …who were the enemy during one war and then the saviors for the next.

RB: Ten-four. I agree with you, and this is how man operates, and I’m not happy. But I’m a little fish in a real large pond.

Oral History- Interview | Narrator Robert Beussman Interviewer Deborah Locke made in New Ulm, MN | Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Citation: Minnesota Historical Society. U.S. - Dakota War of 1862. The enemy during one war and then the saviors for the next August 20, 2019. http://www.usdakotawar.org/node/1004

Viewpoints: All viewpoints expressed on this website are those of the contributors, and are not representative of the Minnesota Historical Society.