“A.W. Faber…has been completely Americanized…”

Here is another interesting historical document concerning the seizure and sale of A.W. Faber’s assets and patents in America by the United States government during the First World War under the Alien Property Act (you can read about the sale here).

The Alien Property Custodian issued the following statement May 3, 1919:


This notice gives the impression that there is some ceremony or perhaps just a secret handshake that bestows complete Americanization. The use of the word ‘complete’ here suggests (to me at least) that a top-to-bottom change has occurred, but a notice from June 1919 indicates that the leadership and business structure were kept in place:


It seems then that ‘Americanize’ in this instance just means ‘we’re the new owners’ (it’s interesting that they don’t name the new owners, just “American interests”). I know nothing of the legal aspects of such things but I’d be interested to find out how you can still use the family name for the business—perhaps that was surrendered along with the assets, too?

I don’t mean to make light of things (well, maybe a little). It must have been a terrifying and uncertain moment in history, and it makes sense that you wouldn’t want people—who have been determined, through war, to be the ‘enemy’—to prosper in your own country. However I always marvel at the rhetoric and jingoism from this time period; what does “Americanize” mean?

The -ize suffix suggests the notion of making or becoming, and it may even imply that it is as the result of some kind of experience, action, procedure, or process. So an official notice from the government declaring that A.W. Faber has been “Americanized” (i.e. it has been cleaned, purified, re-educated, re-purposed, and re-tooled by and for Americans in an American manner), would surely put the public at ease, though they may have never asked themselves how or why things are any different.

So was it just like cutting a string? Was there no contact at all between A.W. Faber in Germany and the newly Americanized A.W. Faber, Inc. from this point onward? Where did they get their raw materials? Did they export to Germany between the two World Wars? That’s a book I’d like to read.

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3 Responses to “A.W. Faber…has been completely Americanized…”

  1. Sapphire says:

    And thus we’re laid the foundations of Nazism and the Second World War. Not only the US of course. French expansionism and vindictiveness were the main culprits but the US attitude and Wilson’s capitulation certainly helped.


  2. Pingback: Anniversaries (5) Das Bleistiftschloss | Contrapuntalism

  3. Pingback: It’s Full Of Stars | Contrapuntalism

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