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“Effect of World War I on the German Community in Hawaii.”

Hawaiian Journal of History 14 (1980) 109-140

In his introduction to KamaainaA Century in Hawaii, William A. Simonds states that the founders of American Factors were “European,” but immediately assures the reader that “today the business is 100% American.” The founders of American Factors were, in fact, German, a point which he later acknowledged. The choice of the word “European,” however, is interesting, because American Factors has downplayed the role of its parent organization, H. Hackfeld and Company, which American Factors took over during World War I. Indeed, since that war there has been little interest in the contribution of German immigrants to the history of Hawai‘i, Dr. Bernhard L. Hormann’s Master’s Thesis, The Germans in Hawaii, being the only real exception.

This paper does not pretend to concern itself with the total German experience in Hawai‘i, but will confine its inquiry to an exploration of World War I’s significance in the life of the German community in Hawai‘i. In order to do this, I shall briefly describe the German businessmen who established themselves in Honolulu, then the plantation community they sponsored on Kaua‘i. The discussion of World War I’s impact, however, will center on the Honolulu community with little emphasis on Kaua‘i. This focus is a reflection of the relative importance of the two communities, and the availability of information.

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