Valentin Josef Peter (1875-1960)

Valentin Josef Peter emigrated with his family from Germany to the United States when he was fourteen years old. Peter had to work immediately to provide for his family, especially after the early death of his father George Peter. Despite—or perhaps driven by—these challenges—Peter rose from milking cows to running and owning one of the largest German-language newspaper empires in American history.

Updated: June 22, 2015

Introduction

Valentin Josef Peter[1] (born April 24, 1875 in Steinbach (Lohr am Main), Bavaria; died February 19, 1960 in Omaha, NE) emigrated with his family from Germany to the United States when he was fourteen years old. Upon arrival in America, rather than attending school, Peter had to work immediately to provide for his family, especially after the early death of his father George Peter. Despite—or perhaps driven by—these challenges—Peter rose from milking cows to running and owning one of the largest German-language newspaper empires in American history.  In the 1930s, Peter’s enterprise, which consisted of a network of different newspapers, sold more copies than the largest mainstream German-American newspapers of the day, the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, which together published around seventy thousand copies daily.[2]

In addition to his role as a publisher, Peter became the father of twelve children as well as an awarded philanthropist, who, after both World Wars and during the Great Depression, supported those in need of charity. While he was always particularly concerned about the fate of Germany and the German-American community, his aid transcended ethnic and national boundaries. Constantly guided by his deep religious faith as a Catholic and a relentless work ethic, Peter acted as a dedicated American transmitter of German news for America’s large German community in the turbulent times of the twentieth century.

Family and Ethnic Background

Born on April 24, 1875, Valentin Josef Peter grew up as the only son of George and Katharina Peter (née Welzenbach). Valentin had two older sisters, Kunnegunde and Margaretha, and one younger sister, Teresa. Another three children of George and Katharina died at a young age.[3] George and Katharina operated a small flour mill, the Haunsmühle, in Steinbach bei Lohr, a small village in Franconia in what is now northwestern Bavaria.[4]

Peter’s maternal side had been in the mill business for quite some time and owned an ancient mill called the Jägermühle, which was located close to Mariabuchen, a renowned place of pilgrimage in Germany.[5] Peter’s parents were deeply religious. Consequently, as a boy, Peter volunteered in his hometown’s church as an altar boy and served Mass daily.[6] He did the same at the Wallfahrtskirche, the ancient pilgrimage church of the monastery Mariabuchen, which is still famous today for legends about its origins and its baroque architecture.[7] Clearly, Catholicism played an important part in Peter’s upbringing. He was in close contact with Catholic institutions early on and would remain closely connected to the Church all his life.

The Peters had limited economic success. As millers, they shared their spot on the river with another family, who also used the river to run a mill, the Rüppelsmühle. As a result, the relations between the families were not always harmonious. The Peters also suffered from floods in 1886, 1887, and 1889 that damaged their mill.[8] 

Katharina Peter’s brother, Anton Welzenbach, had emigrated from Germany to America in the 1850s and settled in Davenport, Iowa. Val J. Peter’s older sister Margaretha had followed her uncle to the United States in 1886. Both the uncle and the daughter repeatedly wrote letters to George, inspiring his hopes to make his and his family’s luck in the new world.[9] Consequently, after the third flood in 1889, he decided to emigrate from Germany to the United States, where Margaretha, who had married and moved to Rock Island, Illinois (across the Mississippi River from Davenport), awaited them. In 1889, the Peters sold their mill and embarked on the North German Lloyd steamship Dampfer Hermann from Hamburg to Baltimore, docking at Locust Point on May 26.[10] From there, they proceeded directly to Rock Island, where Margaretha lived.

The Peters’ start in America was complicated as “the little money they had was fast depleted and George was ailing with heart trouble.”[11] Despite his health problems, George Peter worked in construction, but Peter, at the age of fourteen, was already partly responsible for providing for his mother and his two sisters Kunnegunde and Teresa, which he did by applying some of the skills that he, a German boy from a rural area, naturally possessed: on a farm three miles outside of the city, Peter milked cows in the morning and at night, earning six dollars (about eighty-seven dollars in 2010) a month.[12] For a young newly arrived immigrant who had to immediately make money to take care of a family, attending high school­—Peter hoped to become a teacher—was out of the question. Peter put his desire to teach aside and found better-paid work—three dollars a week (about forty-three dollars in 2010)—at a sawmill, owned by the soon-to-be lumber barons Weyerhaeuser and Denkmann (also German immigrants), all while attending night school to study English, history, bookkeeping, and mathematics.[13] 

Peter’s desire to teach found a new outlet when he was hired as a printer’s devil (apprentice) by Friedrich von Parrot, a Baltic baron and the publisher of a semi-weekly German language newspaper named Volkszeitung. Von Parrot recognized young Peter’s talents and began to deploy him as a reporter, hence introducing him to Rock Island’s public life as well as its civil, religious, cultural, and business leaders.[14] Suddenly exposed to a part of the roughly eight-hundred-newspaper-strong German-language press in America—the early 1890s saw the German-American press at its all-time peak—with all its opportunities to reach out and educate, the position inspired the starting point for Peter’s career as a German-language newspaper publisher in the United States.[15]

Business Development

Within two years, Peter became the foreman of Friedrich von Parrot’s printing plant. Throughout this time, Peter’s desire for education and knowledge remained unchanged: He read books on history, government, and world affairs.[16] While Peter progressed professionally, his personal life suffered a severe setback: in November 1892 Peter’s father George died.[17] Peter, seventeen years old at the time, was now solely responsible for providing for his mother and his sisters Gretchen and Teresa, and needed to make more money than the Volkszeitung was able to pay him.

Having devoted himself to learning about the current printing techniques and journalism in Rock Island, Peter managed to move to Peoria in 1897 to become the city editor of the German paper Tägliche Peoria Sonne (Peoria Daily Sun). Shortly before that, on July 22, 1896, Val became an American citizen.[18] Peter’s success in Peoria allowed him to make his first strategic move to ensure a more prosperous future for himself and his family. When, in 1904, the Volkszeitung in Rock Island went into bankruptcy, Peter used his own savings of eight hundred dollars and borrowed seven hundred dollars from the owner of the paper’s printing house, Philipp Louis Wolfe and purchased the paper for 1,500 dollars (about 37,900 dollars in 2010).[19] Rock Island, like Peoria, was home to many Germans. The city included a German theatre, a symphony run by German artists, and German was taught at all schools—Rock Island was a great place for Peter to do business.[20] At twenty-two years old, Peter became the youngest editor in all of Illinois, earning seventeen dollars (about 246 dollars in 2010) a week.[21] The purchase of the Volkszeitung introduced him to an entrepreneurial strategy, which would bring him success in the future: to purchase troubled German newspapers and, in the later years, consolidate them into his newspaper empire. Peter published the Volkszeitung for eight years.[22]

In 1906, Peter looked for opportunities to expand his business. He made plans to visit San Francisco to buy the Abendpost there, but the devastating earthquake and fire that occurred that year destroyed the paper. Similarly, labor unrest in Toledo kept Peter from initiating entrepreneurial activities in Ohio.[23]  Both these events led Peter to examine Omaha, Nebraska, where he met with German publishers.[24] At that time, Omaha already had a significant, still-growing German community, among them many Catholics. Newly arrived Germans often could not read English and therefore relied on information provided to them by German newspapers. This made the city an interesting place for Peter’s purposes.

Furthermore, keeping his family’s future in mind (in 1905 Peter had married Margaret Reese, known as Greta, who in 1906 gave birth to their first son Carl), Peter was encouraged by the presence of  Creighton University, a distinguished Jesuit institution which Peter saw as uniting his Catholic ideals and yearning for knowledge. In consequence, Peter’s plans went beyond purchasing Omaha-based newspapers. He indeed bought the weekly paper Westliche Presse in June 1907 and, in the following year, the Omaha Tribüne, a daily paper whose plant had suffered a damaging fire. Peter combined the two Omaha papers to create the Omaha Tribüne-Westliche Presse.[25] His bigger decision, however, was to move his family to Omaha. On March 8, 1909, the Peter family moved into a two-story frame house on the corner of Binney and 18th streets.[26] Omaha would remain Peter’s home—despite exhaustive travels—for the rest of his life.

Before Peter left Rock Island, he sold the Volkszeitung. After the move, Peter still operated out of modest circumstances. His first office space in Omaha measured just thirty square feet.[27] Peter would work long hours translating English news articles into German, which, if he found them newsworthy, he marked with a red pencil.[28] On March 14, 1912, Peter introduced a new daily newspaper, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne, the paper that would eventually serve the entire German-speaking population of Nebraska and Iowa and function as “the centerpiece of his newspaper enterprise until his death in 1960.”[29]

After having initiated the daily publication of the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne, Peter began to systematically acquire small, local weekly German-language newspapers in the years before World War I. There were approximately a dozen of these in Nebraska,the majority of them small publications with a circulation of one to two thousand. Peter was eager to expand and reach out to more and more German immigrant communities: “If there was a small German paper in Grand Island or Nebraska City struggling to exist, the publishers would be happy to sell their subscription lists. He [Peter] did not pay much for them and the next week in their paper he would announce, ‘from now on you will be getting the Omaha Tribune.’” In addition to Peter’s Tribune, two other German daily newspapers served the Great Plains area, the Denver-based Colorado Herold, circulating six thousand copies, and the Kansas City Presse, with about three thousand copies. To be competitive and to sustain readership, “a number of small Nebraska and western Iowa weeklies were thus merged with the Tribüne, beginning with the papers in Auburn and Nebraska City in 1912, in Bloomfield, Nebraska in 1914, and in Fremont, Nebraska, in early 1917.”[30]

To further enhance the paper’s reach during the pre-war years, Peter hired a circulation manager, Henry Schmitz. Hiring a circulation manager had been a common practice among major U.S. newspapers since the late 1870s to control and grow a paper’s readership.[31] Schmitz’ efforts to boost subscriptions reportedly included circulation contests. Prices included a new Ford automobile for the top-scoring contestant. More than thirty contestants reportedly participated, including preachers who advertised Peter’s paper to their congregations in hopes of winning the car.[32] Peter managed to increase the circulation of his Omaha paper from 8,640 in 1913 to 11,800 in 1914.[33]

In 1917, the year the United States entered World War I, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne had a circulation of over 17,500, which marked an increase of almost fifty percent within three years. However, between 1914 and 1917, the German-American press decreased overall from 537 to 489 publications, but in the same period a variety of established German papers experienced a noticeable rise in their circulation and the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne was among them. To some extent, this was due to German readers who were unsatisfied with the coverage of the war in their local German paper and desired a larger, non-local daily, like Peter’s Tribune, via the mail.[34]

Before America’s entry into the war in 1917, the vast majority of “the German American press stressed the pro-German version of the war with the same uncritical enthusiasm which marked the pro-British bias of many American dailies published in the English language,” which had higher circulation and better funding.[35] Large parts of the German-language papers operated under the conviction that they alone provided true war news in America. Peter’s paper was no exception, offering “a steady diet of passionate partisanship for Germany.”[36] Convinced that his publication’s portrayal of the war was accurate and that it was needed to break through the bias of the pro-British American press, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne “made a special arrangement with the New Yorker Staatszeitung to get the latter’s telegraph service from its special correspondents.”[37]

During the first years of World War I, Peter’s papers saw a rise in circulation, but America’s entry into the war negatively affected Peter’s business—the reputation of Germany and the German community within the United States were inextricably linked with his enterprise. Yet even before America’s official entry into World War I, the German newspaper business was becoming increasingly difficult, as many German-Americans—and especially the German-American press—were increasingly confronted with “the charge of disloyalty, the gravest sin in the morality of nationalism,” a morality which speedily rose to dictate the tone of the time.[38] Finally, just as Peter attempted to expand outside of Omaha by merging two recently purchased papers—the daily Kansas City Presse and the Missouri Staatszeitung—into a daily paper in 1917, the United States entered the war and anti-German sentiment took hold of the country, which resulted in Peter suffering tremendous losses in advertising, the life-blood of his business. After America’s entry into the war, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne moderated its representation of the Central Powers.[39] Peter had planned to make the Kansas City Presse a regional paper and therefore had invested in a second printing plant there. He was forced to transform his planned daily paper into a weekly in May 1918 and to sell the expensive facilities at a great loss. Peter lost approximately twenty-five thousand dollars (about 425,000 dollars in 2010) and was slow to recover from his losses.[40] While circulation of the Kansas City Presse soon reached 18,000, a considerable amount, lack of revenue kept Peter from ever converting the paper into a daily.[41]

Prior to the war, Germans had been widely accepted as “one of the most assimilable and reputable immigrant groups.” But with America’s entry into World War I began the “most spectacular reversal of judgment in the history of American nativism.” America slipped into a period marked by phrases such as “America for the Americans” and “100 Percent Americanism.” During this period, German culture was no longer understood as a welcome addition to the “American creed.” Instead, it was now represented as this creed’s most severe threat. Much of the contempt for Germany was directed towards German-language newspapers. The war struck the German-American press a blow from which it never fully recovered.[42] 

In October 1917, Congress enacted legislation to control the foreign-language press. It demanded translations of all materials concerning the war and only those publications that were deemed loyal to U.S. causes were permitted to continue publishing without translations. The translation requirement was intended to be costly and time-consuming; in a world of deadlines, it meant a disruption to the newsgathering routine that was particularly difficult for smaller publications. Some German papers with content that aroused suspicion—a flexible term at the time—of their loyalty to America were raided, including Peter’s former employer, the Peoria Sonne.[43] By enforcing these and other measures, Congress achieved significant changes in the German-language press: it devoted less space to war news, printed less commentary, and, in order to stay in business, shifted from its former pro-German tone to increasingly supporting U.S. aims.[44] Peter experienced these anti-German waves both as a businessman and a family man. On the one hand, the anti-German sentiment of the time threatened his professional life’s work. On the other, the anti-German mood reached such an extent in Omaha that members of the Peter family were afraid to go outside, speak, or even sing in German.[45] 

After Wilson’s war message to Congress in April 1917, anti-German sentiment did not merely present itself to Peter and his business in the form of financial discrimination. As the editor of a German newspaper that was sold almost exclusively to German(-American)s, Peter experienced threats via mail and his house was streaked with red paint. His newsboys, delivering the despised German papers, were attacked and beaten, and their papers often strewn across the street. Peter’s son Ted remembered “the tormentors would throw rocks at us and try to knock us off our bicycles. They’d be yelling, ‘here comes the boy with the German paper, Hun, spy.’” These experiences left a deep impression on Peter, who after the war concluded: “We can only understand the meaning of tolerance when we have been the victims of intolerance.” Despite the hostilities towards him and his business, from the beginning of World War I to its end, it is claimed that he managed to never miss a publication date.[46]

Peter acquired several western Iowa German papers during the war years, such as Iowa’s largest German daily, the weekly Iowa Staats-Anzeiger. Not only did Peter’s paper survive World War I, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne was also recognized by the United States Treasury department, which—seeking to influence foreign-born people living in the United States—established a foreign language division that invited the foreign language press to submit editorials in support of Liberty bonds aiding the Allied forces. “An Omaha Daily Tribune article received the distinction for being the first editorial accepted by the Treasury department for propaganda services in favor of the Liberty Loan, and it was cast into plates and sent to all German papers for publication. A translation was also made and the English version was transmitted to non-German foreign papers.”[47]

Despite the chaotic times, Peter kept absorbing struggling German publications. Without surviving business records, it is not possible to determine exactly how Peter was able to afford these additions. However, two hypotheses can be offered: in the first place, the publications Peter took over tended to be very small businesses, which probably made the acquisition costs very low. Second, Peter pursued a very modest lifestyle—perhaps as a result of his deep religious convictions—and thus may have had considerable savings from his business to apply towards acquisitions. In late 1917 and in 1918, four more failing Nebraska papers were taken over by Peter’s Omaha newspaper. Some of Peter’s problems were typical for the time period, during which many German publishers saw advertising—and in many cases circulation—“declining at an alarming rate.” Even after the war, additional problems such as the agricultural depression that hit the Midwest in the early 1920s added to Peter’s troubles, as many farmers were unable to pay for their subscriptions. Simultaneously, the cost of labor to produce newspapers rose.[48]

By 1920, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne had a circulation of 22,610.[49] Peter, like other German-language publishers of the time, had learned to carefully mediate between his German readership and critical U.S. public opinion—and to prosper during a time of crisis by picking up failing or struggling competitors in order to expand his enterprise. The postwar period also saw two of Peter’s side ventures achieve success. In 1917, Val founded the Interstate Printing Company. As he possessed the machinery to print newspapers and ads, the creation of a subsidiary that could offer commercial, book, and job printing made sense. Interstate Printing Company became a successful business and is owned and operated by the Peter family to this day.[50] Also after World War I, capitalizing on his unique ability to advertise to German communities residing in the United States, Peter increasingly focused on a side project to his newspaper business, the Val J. Peter Travel Bureau. A collaboration with the North German Lloyd and the Hamburg-American lines, the bureau grew out of four travel agencies that were attached to publications Peter had absorbed in Omaha, Kansas City, Denver, and Baltimore. It initially sold tickets and made travel arrangements for customers visiting Germany, but it eventually arranged and led traveling tours to Germany, some of which Peter, his wife and his children personally joined.[51]

Though the bureau had existed since the early years of the decade, it was only after World War I, that it turned into a profitable business. It picked up momentum largely due to German-Americans “wishing to make visits back to the old country and to bring relatives over once the [immigration] restrictions were lifted.” Americans wishing to see the sights of Europe also joined tours. Peter was able to sell enough trips through advertisements in his papers that the steamship companies showed him their appreciation in the form of free trips to Germany with special accommodations. It is reported that Peter’s travel bureau was also advertised “the minute one entered the Tribune office by a large painting of one of the North German Lloyd’s steamships.”[52] In 1922, he personally organized and led a two-month-long group tour to Germany and Austria. It is claimed that the trip through Berlin, Munich, Vienna and several other cities and towns, which Greta documented in her diary, was the first of its kind after the Great War.[53] Peter led two additional tours through Germany in 1927 and 1937.

One of the cornerstones of Peter’s enterprise was his family. Peter and Greta had twelve children and many family members became integral parts of Peter’s newspaper business. His sons, for example, all began to deliver the newspaper as soon as Val deemed them old enough. Ted, one of Peter’s sons, recalled how papers were circulated. “For towns with more than one subscriber the correct number of papers would be wrapped in a bundle and labeled Postmaster-Crete, Nebraska. Then when the Postmaster got it and opened it everyone’s name was on their paper. If there was just one person in a town who got it, then it had to be wrapped separately in a single wrapper… this was before automation.” A key business strategy Peter employed was to deliver papers by streetcars for free. Thirty-six different routes were supplied this way. Conductors, instructed where to drop off the different packages of papers, would do so free of charge. Peter was able to make this arrangement due to a friendship with the streetcar company’s president. The relationship enabled Peter to use fewer delivery boys than other newspaper distributors.[54]

In central Omaha, the delivery boys were also responsible for collecting money from the paper’s subscribers. In the country, however, everything happened via mail and a file was kept that included the subscribers’ names and addresses. Subscribers who ran late on payments received notices—written in German—informing them that they owed money. After the fourth notice, Peter would keep sending the paper for another few months but then take the subscriber off the mailing list. Son Ted recalled, “Sometimes the money would come in eventually, but I was at the plant a few times when a farmer would come in with a load of potatoes or tomatoes or produce of some kind as a payment.”[55]

As they grew older, Peter’s sons were expected to take on more ambitious work within the company to learn to handle increasing responsibility. Peter’s son Ben, for example, while still a freshman in high school, was sent to rural Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska to collect overdue subscriptions. “I learned every aspect of the business from the printing plant through the front office,” he remembered. “I think I am the only one of the sons who learned to operate every machine in the plant and to set up type as well.” Ben would later become the manager of the Peter publication Täglicher Baltimore Correspondent. At this point in his career, Val Peter dedicated most of his time to content selection. He rewrote and translated news dispatches into German on his typewriter and also took care of other organizational tasks such as handling letters and correspondence. Peter’s brother-in-law, Ernie Reese, who had joined Peter’s business early on as an advertising salesman, handled finances and advertising sales. While Ernie played piano in clubs, he had also studied bookkeeping and proved himself an important help to Peter, handling budgeting and other important bookkeeping tasks.[56]

However, the same problems—demographic change, economic depression, and political crisis—that had led to the demise of so many of the German papers that Peter absorbed— impacted Peter’s enterprise, too. In 1926, Peter was forced to convert the publication of his Tägliche Omaha Tribüne, a daily, to three times a week. This step was not only problematic for Peter on a personal level—the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne was his flagship publication—but also posed organizational difficulties, as the readership of a triweekly differed from that of a daily. Publishing daily offered Peter the opportunity to compete directly with the dailies appearing in English. While written in German, the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne offered its readership the same kind of everyday news—market reports, radio and theatre listings, and other current news—that the English dailies provided. By switching to a triweekly publishing cycle, Peter ran the risk of losing his readers, who became increasingly less dependent on the German language in any case. Peter raised support among Omaha Germans, issued new stock to raise capital, and turned the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne back into a daily in January 1928.[57]

The 1930s would see the peak of Peter’s newspaper empire as well as the beginning of its demise. During the 1930s, Peter sold more than 70,000 newspapers a day. Peter had never invested in the stock market and therefore was less directly affected by the 1929 crash than many others. But the overall effects of the Great Depression hurt his business greatly as many of his clients, for example farmers, were not able to pay their subscriptions. In the aftermath of the 1933 bank holiday Peter was forced to place a month-long moratorium on his employees’ wages.[58] While the Great Depression and the looming of another world war hurt his business, Peter’s biggest concern was not politics but demographics. “The total pool of potential readers, without any prospect of increase by new immigration, was headed towards rapid decline.” Another factor was that Peter’s constant drive for expansion had come to an end as there were hardly any competitors left to absorb in the regions that the Peter enterprise covered. That said, as James M. Berquist’s thorough account of Peter’s business activities shows, during the 1930s, Peter’s papers dominated German-American publishing west of the Mississippi and east of the Rockies. Peter possessed four papers covering the areas between the Missouri and the Rockies; his daily Tägliche Omaha Tribüne continued to cover western Iowa and Nebraska; the acquired daily St. Paul Volkszeitung covered Minnesota, the Dakotas, and Montana. Peter’s fateful investmentThe Kansas City Presse covered Kansas and western Missouri on a weekly basis and the Colorado Herold targeted the Rocky Mountain regions. Additionally, Peter published the Welt-Post, a weekly that targeted Volga Germans and other Russian Germans living in the Great Plains region, as well as the agricultural newspaper Der Landmann.[59]

In 1929, Peter bought the Baltimore Correspondent, a German paper of long tradition, established originally as the Deutsche Correspondent by Fritz Raine in 1841 that had become a daily newspaper in 1847.[60] World War I had led to a change in management and the paper cut back to weekly publication. Peter’s interest in the Baltimore Correspondent was twofold: on the one hand, Peter believed that Baltimore, with its lengthy German history, would see a new era of industrial growth that would attract new German immigrants. On the other, Peter’s son Ben stated that his father felt very sentimental about Baltimore, the city in which he had arrived as a young immigrant from Germany and that had reminded him so much of Hamburg, from which he had departed. Ben, who was put in charge of managing the paper, remembered that upon reaching Baltimore he found nothing resembling a newspaper plant, just a building and two linotype machines. Ben was only able to turn the newspaper’s fortunes around by collaborating with the Western Newspaper Union, which printed part of the paper. In 1935, Ben and Arthur Schaub, who were experienced in assisting German-American groups in their corporate affairs, promoted plans to return the Baltimore Correspondent to daily publication. A subscription campaign backed by the Baltimore German clubs, singing societies, fraternal lodges, and Turnvereine was launched and, on November 30, 1935, the Baltimore Correspondent once again published as a daily newspaper. This lasted until 1939, when it went back to semi-weekly. The paper became a weekly in 1957 and would cease publication on December 29, 1969. In addition to the Baltimore Correspondent, Peter had purchased the Toledo Express, the Buffalo Volksfreund, and the Katholisches Wochenblatt (Catholic Weekly) in the 1930s. All told, the Peter network sold more copies than the largest mainstream German-American newspapers of the day, the New Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, which together published around seventy thousand copies daily.[61]

The reach of Peter’s enterprises did not go unnoticed. In the 1930s, while Hitler’s power was increasing in Germany, the German-American Bund began to court Peter because of his unique access to the German-speaking communities of the United States. The Bund was a Nazi organization that consisted of Americans of German descent who sought to portray Nazi Germany in a favorable light to American audiences. With his documented history of protesting U.S. government policy that hindered German causes, like fighting prohibition or stopping the U.S. from entering World War One, Peter was an obvious target for the Bund. One of the Bund’s main concerns was the representation of Nazi Germany in U.S. news outlets. In the early years of Hitler’s rise to power, Peter was not completely unsympathetic to him because, like many others at the time, he saw his rule as an opportunity to reunify and rebuild Germany.[62]

But by the time the Bund approached him, Peter, who was well informed about current events in Germany, appeared to have understood the path National Socialism had taken in Germany. It is to be assumed that Peter, having had experienced discrimination and nationalism first hand during World War I, saw the emerging German nationalism with critical eyes and feared that Hitler—a man with a vision that Peter, to be clear, had initially respected—would lead Germany back into war. Between 1935 and the outbreak of the war, members of the Peter family traveled to Germany, where they talked to both friends and enemies of Hitler. One memorable encounter documented in Peter family records is a meeting with the German cardinal Michael von Faulhaber, the archbishop of Munich and an outspoken opponent of Hitler. Reports from Faulhaber and others must have further substantiated Peter’s instinct not to support Hitler and it is said that his family began to help numerous victims of the Nazi terror, both Christians and Jews.[63] Consequently, Peter refused bribes to cooperate with the Bund. It is reported that the Bund responded with threats as well as the offer to buy all of Peter’s papers.

Once it became clear that Peter was not to be intimidated, members of the Bund stole Peter’s subscription list and started their own paper, which they then sent to Peter’s subscribers. In it, they called Peter a betrayer of Germany and ridiculed him as Der Schwarze Peter (black Peter), a derogatory figure of speech in German.[64] Still, Peter refused to change his anti-Hitler stance and reporting. For example, his papers republished the famous address by the American Cardinal George Mundelein, who ridiculed Hitler as an “Austrian paper hanger.” In a 1942 interview, Peter was asked if any of his employees were members of the Bund. Peter answered, “No. If I had known it I would have discharged them instantly.”[65] Peter’s anti-Nazi stance led to the prohibition of his publications in Germany. In 1936, Joseph Goebbels prohibited the sale and distribution of Peter’s Katholisches Wochenblatt and Der Landmann. His other publications were banned in Germany soon after.[66] During a stay in Germany in 1937, Peter protested and formally requested that the foreign office lift the censorship of his papers. When he was asked to meet with Goebbels to discuss the matter, Peter declined and left Germany. 

The main problem for Peter’s business at the time, the lack of migration from Germany, required him to consolidate the production of his newspapers in the Omaha facility as opposed to printing in multiple locations, a process that was, with exception of the Baltimore Correspondent, completed before the U.S. entered into World War II. The papers were not only produced at the same location; they increasingly shared materials—for example national and international news—and only a few pages were devoted to news and advertising directed at the locality in which each paper was published. Subsequently, starting in the early 1940s, Peter began to merge several of his papers in reaction to a steady decline in readership, and for the same reason shut down several of his papers, such as the Kansas City Presse.[67]

While the decline in readership was Peter’s biggest problem, it certainly was not his only concern. After Pearl Harbor, Peter would see America and Germany head to war again, this time with five of his sons on the American side. Peter kept the papers, the printing business, and the travel bureau going, even when his paper’s offices—like those of other German newspapers—were raided. For a while his papers had taken a clear stance against Nazism and, also, Communism, which Peter despised. In August of 1942—on behalf of a senior U.S. Treasury department official and, as was revealed in later years, Soviet spy Harry Dexter White—agents raided the offices of the Tribune. It is reported that they “threatened to padlock the business if any protest was made, and without a search warrant, began to remove correspondence and records in the file cabinets without allowing anyone to make copies, or document what was being removed.”[68] Peter did not protest, knowing that while the war was going on, even a few weeks without publication could cost him his business. The raids went on for two weeks, before, it is reported, an anonymous female caller, who claimed to work for the Treasury Department, tipped Peter off on Labor Day 1942. She alleged that Treasury employees intended to frame him by sneaking subversive materials into his newspaper—all in an effort to prohibit him from publishing. The FBI was notified, an investigation was launched, and the Treasury Department was ordered to return all confiscated materials.[69] Bill, one of Peter’s sons, also recalled bomb threats against Peter’s business as well as—similar to World War I—attempts to try to force the Tägliche Omaha Tribüne out of business by pressuring advertisers to boycott the German paper.[70]

After the war, Peter still operated actively, but on a smaller scale. He still made vigorous efforts to purchase German publications, among them the semiweekly Bismarck Staats Anzeiger of North Dakota, which Peter purchased in July 1945, and founded the weekly California Freie Presse in San Francisco in 1949. All of the printing was done in Omaha and then shipped by rail. At the time of Peter’s death in February 1960, his enterprise still comprised seven papers.[71] During the 1960s, Peter’s son William and other family members continued Peter’s legacy and bought newspapers in Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cincinnati, printing them all in Omaha, where in 1965 a new printing plant was opened. In 1982, the entire chain, consisting of eight newspapers—Volkzeitung Tribune, American Herold und Sonntagspost, Deutsche Wochenschrift, Cincinnati Kurier, Buffalo Volksfreund, Die Welt-Post, California Freie Presse, and the Milwaukee Herold—was sold to the Canadian Courier Presse.[72]

Social Status, Networks, Family and Public Life

As his career indicates, Valentin J. Peter was a relentless worker with business acumen. Peter had experienced poverty and hardship first-hand and at a young age. Overcoming these early experiences made Peter a self-starter who trusted that with faith in God and hard work, all of life’s obstacles could be mastered. The immense responsibility he had to adjust to in his early years also made him a committed caretaker of others, starting with his father, mother, and his sisters. Later, his ability to care for others extended to his twelve children as well as their grandchildren. But Peter’s efforts went well beyond his immediate family. Throughout his life and career, Peter was engaged in many philanthropic activities, which he exercised with the same care that he devoted to his newspaper empire.

As was indicated before, Peter was a family man. When he died, Peter had twelve children and forty-six grandchildren.[73] Val’s wife Margaret—called Greta—had herself grown up in a large family. She was the daughter of German immigrants Theodore Rudolph Reese and his wife Teresa, who had nine children. The Reeses were a musical family. Greta’s father was a reputable conductor and Greta turned into a talented singer who performed on stage at an early age. She and Val presumably met at one of the many German society affairs of the time. It is known that Val’s strict and deeply southern Catholic mother did not approve of Greta—or her father, who was known as “free-thinking.” Greta reportedly worried continuously “that people would think ill of her because of her stage life and she spent the rest of her life in a puritanical strait jacket to make amends.”[74]  But Val had his mind set on Greta, who would give birth to twelve children over nineteen years, born between 1906 and 1925: Carl, Theodore, Bernard, Arno, Raymond, Theresa, William, Anna, Margaret, Paul, Dorothy, and Eugene. The family always stood at the center of Peter’s private and business life, as many of his children and relatives partook in his enterprise.

Every day, his daughter Theresa remembered, Peter would get up at 6:30 a.m. and work until 10 p.m., including Saturdays and occasional visits to the office on Sundays. Needless to say, Peter had little tolerance for Faulenzen (laziness) when it came to his children, all of whom were taught “early in life that time was precious and it was not to be wasted.” That said, while Peter’s children grew up according to a strict set of rules—at the center of which stood religion, family, education, and work—the records of the Peter family are filled with fond childhood memories of life at 809 Pine, including backyard ball games, loads of books, the constant sound of music coming from records, instruments, and singing, and the smells of German cooking and baking.[75]

According to Peter’s daughter Dorothy, her parents “only belonged to organizations that had something to do with German societies or the Church. They just did not go out to mingle with friends and have a day of rest. It always involved religion or related back to business.”[76] This statement finds validation in Peter’s exhaustive memberships, which included the Catholic Central Verein, the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation, the Omaha Music Verein, the Sons of Hermann, and the Chamber of Commerce, Omaha. From 1910 to 1915, Peter also acted as the secretary of the Omaha Sängerfest-Gesellschaft (Omaha Singing Society) and he was the president of the Deutschamerikanischer Bürgerbund von Nebraska (German-American Citizens League of Nebraska). In 1922, he became the Nebraska representative of the German consul in Chicago, he was the president of the Federation of German-American Societies of Omaha, the director of the Douglas County Chapter of the Red Cross, and the assistant chairman of the disaster committee of the Red Cross.[77] These examples illustrate the intense workload Peter took on throughout his life—on top of leading a newspaper empire.

In addition to being a philanthropist, Peter was politically engaged. From July 20, 1910 onwards, he was the president of the German-American Alliance of Nebraska, which had been founded in 1910 as a branch of the National German-American Alliance. The Alliance represented hundreds of Nebraska-based German lodges, singing societies, and other organizations and aimed to unify and represent the German community of Nebraska, particularly in political matters. The German American Alliance of Nebraska was first and foremost considered the product of Peter’s determined efforts and “naturally was given extensive publicity in his newspaper.” As a leader of the Alliance, among other activities Peter fought the prohibition movement, supported German-language instruction in schools, and promoted several U.S. political candidates who were in tune with the Alliance’s agenda. Defending German habits was keenly important to members of the Alliance, who were “aggressively conscious of their cultural heritage,” a fact that at times—especially during the World War I years—gave the organization a questionable reputation among pro-British segments of the U.S. public.[78]

Despite their attachment to Germany, members of the Alliance always emphasized their total loyalty to America and its political apparatus. They were, however, convinced of the grandeur of German culture and “wished to assist and to lead their fellow German-Americans to higher levels of citizenship and civic responsibility.”[79] They were convinced that the best possible additions to the United States were those German-Americans who were fully engaged with their ancestral heritage rather than forsaking it. It was not disloyalty towards the United States that drove and motivated the Alliance members but the exact opposite: an attempt to offer the most sacred things they knew, their German ideals, for bettering their “new world” in the Americas.

While the Alliance primarily focused on projects that were not political per se, the outbreak of World War I increasingly transformed it into a lobbying organization “to correct the false impression they believed the English-language press was giving the public regarding Germany and its part in the war.” Under Peter’s leadership, the Alliance protested war loans and the shipments of arms and munitions to Britain and the other Allied powers, bringing the organization—despite its proclamations of loyalty to the United States—into the crosshairs of the pro-Britain American majority. In the years before the United States entered the war, Peter’s Tägliche Omaha Tribüne played a central role in promoting the Alliance’s agenda. It criticized President Wilson for what the Alliance deemed to be pro-Allied policies and promoted a policy of strict neutrality as the best solution to the ongoing crisis. The German-American Alliance of Nebraska ceased to exist in the wake of the war, when anti-German sentiments made public support of a U.S.-based German alliance impossible.[80]

Peter’s altruism also became visible in his philanthropic work: after World War I, despite his love for his home country and German culture, his “interest in humanity was not determined by physical boundaries or national origins.” When the war came to an end, he capitalized on his newspapers and created local relief organizations to send “hundreds of carloads of food, clothing, and medicine to relief agencies working in Central Europe—Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish.”[81] Under Peter’s leadership, for example, corn was gathered and ground in Omaha and then sent to Germany via ship from New Orleans.[82] In his relief work, Val’s passion for his home, Germany, and his deeply anchored Catholic altruism interfused. Whether one dominated the other is hard to determine. Peter was, without a doubt, a thoroughly devoted Catholic, but aside from the United States, Germany was the country that predominantly benefitted from his ideals, help, and activism. During the years of the Great Depression, as Peter’s son Arno remembered, “Peter was concerned about the needy and whenever he possibly could help them he would, if only with a free meal.” Peter always respected people with a desire to work rather than those who just sought handouts. He would often send people to his house to help in the yard, for example, in exchange for a few dollars or to receive a warm meal. During the years of the Great Depression, he helped a group of Catholic laymen found an Omaha branch of the St. Vincent de Paul Society to help the homeless and hungry.[83]

After World War II, Peter and his sons ran ads in their newspapers to promote the sending of care packages containing basic groceries as well as money orders to Germany and continued encouraging these actions through the 1950s.[84] As in World War I, Peter worked with his newspapers to relieve the human suffering in Europe. His enterprise “conducted the first campaign to open the mails to Germany and permit the sending of food and clothing to the starving population, and they were active in the Displaced Persons Program and President Eisenhower’s Refugee Program.” During World War II, Peter further aided many Jews in escaping Europe; he was able to give jobs at his enterprises to some. At the same time, he sent the Tribune to German prisoners of war in the United States to give them comfort and consolation. Peter’s wife Greta was at times concerned that Peter’s humanitarianism would go unnoticed, but on May 24, 1950, Pope Pius XII made Peter a Knight of St. Gregory for his services to humanity after the war. And in 1955, Peter received the Großkreuz des Verdienstordens der Deutschen Bundesrepublik (Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) from President Theodor Heuss in recognition of his relief work.[85] This cross was bestowed to those engaged in the highest political, economic, social or cultural work that served to reconstruct Germany in a peaceful manner.

Despite the demise of the Alliance, Peter remained active in German-American societies and through them and his business became well connected to many politicians and businessmen throughout the Midwest, “gaining influence in public affairs through his papers which had a large circulation.”[86] Peter used his powerful position to affect matters of importance to the German communities of Nebraska and other states. In 1919, for example, Nebraska had enacted laws that prohibited both the study and the teaching of foreign languages, including German. In close collaboration with renowned Omaha attorney Arthur Mullen, Peter actively supported the case of Robert T. Meyer, a parochial school teacher accused of teaching German. The Meyer v. Nebraska case, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1923, overturned the 1919 law prohibiting the teaching of German, an event which Peter deemed the biggest achievement of his life.

Peter was never reluctant to use his newspaper empire for political purposes if he believed them to be just causes. After World War I, Peter used his papers to urge U.S. government officials to aid the German Republic as well as to express great concern about the pressures caused by the Treaty of Versailles, which he believed would lead to further evil and unrest.[87] In his obituary, it is mentioned that Peter predicted that, without modification, the treaty would lead to another war that would engulf not only Germany but the whole world. In a country full of unemployed and disappointed people, Peter argued, there was always the risk of a radical demagogue tempting the public to the far left or the far right: pressure always creates counterpressure.[88] In 1928, Peter’s media empire participated in efforts to elect Herbert Hoover president. Peter admired Hoover for his role in getting relief to defeated Germany after the war. President Hoover later honored Peter by naming him United States Marshal for the State of Nebraska on April 27, 1932.[89] After World War II, Peter openly appealed to U.S. officials to take a stand against the Morgenthau Plan to deindustrialize Germany, which he deemed a Communist plot, and he appealed for aid for the millions of displaced persons coming from Eastern Europe.[90] Peter was acquainted with all the presidents from Coolidge through Eisenhower, as well as Taft and Nixon, to name only a few of the influential people Peter met through his political engagements.[91]

Peter’s reputation extended across the Atlantic, too. On September 24, 1950 Peter was honored as an Ehrenbürger (honorary citizen) in his German hometown, Steinbach, to commemorate his activism for Germany and the Catholic Church in America. Based on his response letter, this acclamation filled Peter with great joy.[92] After migrating to the United States Peter frequently visited, kept in contact with, and financially supported Steinbach, for example donating money to purchase a new church bell for the Pfarrkirche St. Josef. A street in Steinbach was named Valentin-Peter-Straße in his honor.[93] In Omaha, his other hometown, Peter was honored by Creighton University, which in June of 1953 awarded him an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws and Literature.[94]

The large crowd that gathered at his funeral in February of 1960 served as evidence of the respect that Peter had earned throughout his life. Peter was described by a family member as a “liberal in the best sense of the word with his concern for the needy” and as a man “concerned about his duty to himself, to his God, his family, and his adopted country.” At Peter’s funeral two bishops, twelve monsignors, and over fifty priests were present.[95]

Conclusion

It is critical to understand and evaluate Peter’s accomplishments through the lens of American and German history. His life in America spanned the most challenging circumstances ever experienced by German immigrants and business owners on American soil. Peter, who arrived with next to nothing, achieved what he achieved during a phase in American history in which public sentiment was at times anything but favorable to German-Americans. But despite the business struggles and personal discriminations he faced, Peter always remained driven by his commitment to do what he deemed to be morally right. His strong ethical nationalism and deeply rooted Catholic integrity made it impossible for him, even in times of crisis, to deny his appreciation and passion for his German background, which was not only the life blood of his business but also of his innermost identity. Had he not attempted to bring this love for Germany to his new home, he would have cheated his adopted country out of his most sacred beliefs and convictions.

There is no evidence that Peter, despite his abilities as a businessman, was ever overtly concerned about accumulating wealth. Instead, Peter followed his principles—religious faith, family, and work ethic—in a fashion that was not theoretical. These principles guided most of his behavior and made him who he was as a businessman, philanthropist, and American of German origin.

Notes

[1] In some sources, his name is spelled Valentine Joseph Peter.

[2] James M. Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers: The Rise and Decline of a Twentieth-Century German-Language Newspaper Empire,” Yearbook of German-American Studies 29 (1994): 117–128.

[3] Valerie Peter Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter and Family (Mount Ayr, Ia.: privately printed, 1987), 3

[4] Karl-Heinz Schroll to Father Val J. Peter, April 12, 2007. This letter, in the custody of the Peter family, was written by a resident of Lohr am Main to Father Val J. Peter, a grandson of the subject of this biography, and provides background information on the Peter family’s hometown in Germany.

[5] Georg Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. Ein Querschnitt der katholischen deutschen Presse in den Vereinigten Staaten zu ihrem hundertjährigen Bestehen (Freiburg: Herder, 1937), 136

[6] Ruth August, “Val J. Peter, Publisher,” American-German Review 28 (1960): 16–18.

[7] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 136.

[8] Schroll to Peter, April 12, 2007.

[9] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 137.

[10] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 137.

[11] Duffy,Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 3.

[12] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 136.

[13] Duffy,Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 4.

[14] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot,” Volkszeitung-Tribüne, Feb. 26, 1960.

[15] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 117.

[16] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 5.

[17] Some of the quoted articles suggest a different death date.

[18] Schroll to Peter, April 12, 2007.

[19] See “The Press of Rock Island County,” Historic Rock Island County: History of the Settlement of Rock Island County from the Earliest Known Period to the Present Time (Rock Island, Ill.: Kramer & Company, 1908), 224–225.

[20] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 138.

[21] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 5.

[22] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot.”

[23] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 139.

[24] Duffy,Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 9.

[25] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 118.

[26] They would reside there for several years. Afterwards, the family moved to a bigger house located at 2715 South 20th Street before relocating again in 1920 to a house at 809 Pine Street.

[27] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 139.

[28] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 11–13.

[29] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 119.

[30] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 119–120, Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 15.

[31] William R. Scott, Scientific Newspaper Management for Newspapers (New York: Ronald Press Company, 1915), 17.

[32] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter and Family, 17.

[33] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 119; Carl Frederick Wittke, The German-Language Press in America (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1957), 243.

[34] Berquist, “The Val J. Peter Newspapers,” 119; Wittke, The German-Language Press in America, 243–244.

[35] Wittke,The German-Language Press in America, 238–293.

[36] Frederick C. Luebke, “The German-American Alliance in Nebraska, 1910–1917,” Nebraska History 49 (1968): 165–185.

[37] Wittke,The German-Language Press in America, 243.

[38] John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism 1860–1925 (New York: Atheneum, 1963), 196.

[39] James M. Berquist, “Peter, Val J.,” in Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, ed. Thomas Adam (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2005), 879–880.

[40] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 140.

[41] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 119–120.

[42] Higham,Strangers in the Land, 196; Wittke, The German-Language Press in America, 274.

[43] Wittke,The German-Language Press in America, 272.

[44] Wittke,The German-Language Press in America, 264. See also Christopher Capozzola, Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), chapter 5.

[45] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 22–23.

[46] Ibid., 21, 24.

[47] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 119; Alfred Sorenson, The Story of Omaha: From the Pioneer Days to the Present Time (Omaha: National Printing Company, 1923), 447.

[48] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 120; Wittke, The German-Language Press in America, 270.

[49] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 119.

[50] Sorenson,The Story of Omaha, 448; William F. Peter in discussion with the author, November 2013. Val’s sons Raymond and Eugene ran the company for a long time. Today, William F. Peter, a member of the fourth generation, is the company’s president. 

[51] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 29; Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Hearing Held at the Office of the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City,” August 31, 1942.

[52] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 29.

[53] Ibid., 37; Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten, 141.

[54] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 109.

[55] Ibid., 108–109

[56] Ibid., 108–109, 111; Father Val Peter in discussion with the author, November 2013.

[57] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 120.

[58] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 70.

[59] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 120–121.

[60] Max Heinrici, Das Buch der Deutschen in Amerika (Philadelphia: Walther’s Buchdruckerei, 1909), 509.

[61] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 121; Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 112–113, 120.

[62] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 133.

[63] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot.”

[64] Ibid.

[65] Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Hearing Held at… the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.”

[66] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot.”

[67] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 121, 123.

[68] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 130.

[69] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot.”

[70] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 130.

[71] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 125.

[72] Berquist, “The Val. J. Peter Newspapers,” 126; “Alle acht Zeitungen von Peter Publications nach Kanada verkauft,” Volkszeitung-Tribüne, May 28, 1982.

[73] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot.”

[74] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 8.

[75] Ibid., 70–90, esp. 72.

[76] Ibid., 90.

[77] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, 140; Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Hearing Held at… the Omaha Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.”

[78] Luebke, “The German-American Alliance in Nebraska,” 166, 168, 176. On the last point, see for example Wayne Bidwell Wheeler, The National German-American Alliance and its Allies—Pro-German Brewers and Liquor Dealers: A Disloyal Combination (Westerville, O.: American Issue Publishing Company, 1918).

[79] Luebke, “The German-American Alliance in Nebraska,” 176.

[80] Luebke, “The German-American Alliance in Nebraska,” 179–181, 184.

[81] August, “Val J. Peter, Publisher,” 117.

[82] Timpe, Katholisches Deutschtum in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika, 143.

[83] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 69–70.

[84] Ibid., 134; William F. Peter in discussion with the author, November 2013.

[85] August, “Val J. Peter, Publisher,” 18.

[86] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 59.

[87] August, “Val J. Peter, Publisher,” 16–18.

[88] “Val J. Peter, unser lieber Chef, ist tot.”

[89] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 72

[90] “Für Heimat und Kirche. Vor 30 Jahren starb Valentin Josef Peter, Steinbachs großer Sohn in den USA,” Sonntagpost/Milwaukee, May 27, 1990.

[91] August, “Val J. Peter, Publisher,” 18; “Für Heimat und Kirche.”

[92] Schroll to Peter, April 12, 2007.

[93] “Für Heimat und Kirche.”

[94] August, “Val J. Peter, Publisher,” 18.

[95] Duffy, Memories of the Life and Times of Valentine Joseph Peter, 170–171.

 

Cite this Entry

APA Style

"Valentin Josef Peter." (2018) In Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Retrieved February 23, 2018, from Immigrant Entrepreneurship: http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=215

Chicago Style

Tonassi, Timo. "Valentin Josef Peter." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 4, edited by Jeffrey Fear. German Historical Institute. Last modified June 22, 2015. http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=215

MLA Style

"Valentin Josef Peter," Immigrant Entrepreneurship, 2018, Immigrant Entrepreneurship. 23 Feb 2018 <http://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.org/entry.php?rec=215>

Val Peter as a young man, n.d.

  • Val J. Peter’s house on 809 Pine Street, n.d.
  • Blessing of a new press for the Omaha Tribüne, ca. 1950s
  • Greta Peter as a young woman, n.d.
  • Val Peter’s office after being raided, 1942

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