Louis P. Lochner

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Cover of a Lochner pamphlet published at the end of 1919 by the People's Freedom Union in New York.

Ludwig Paul "Louis" Lochner (February 22, 1887 – January 8, 1975) was an American political activist, journalist, and author. During World War I, Lochner was a leading figure in the American and international anti-war movement. Later, Lochner served for many years as head the Berlin bureau of the Associated Press. He is best remembered for his work there as a foreign correspondent. Lochner was awarded the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for correspondence for his wartime reporting from Nazi Germany. In December 1941 Lochner was interned by the Nazis and later released in a prisoner exchange.


Early years[edit]

Louis Lochner was born February 22, 1887 in Springfield, Illinois to Johann Friedrich Karl Lochner and Maria Lochner née von Haugwitz. The senior Lochner was a Lutheran minister.[1]

In 1905 Louis graduated from the Wisconsin Music Conservatory.[1] He went on to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in earning a Bachelor's degree in 1909.[1]

On September 7, 1910 he married Emmy Hoyer; they would have two children, Elsbeth and Robert.

Hoyer died in 1920 and Lochner married again in 1922. His second wife, Hilde De Terra, née Steinberger, brought Rosemarie De Terra, her daughter from her fist marriage, into the family.

Political activism[edit]

During the decade of the 1910s, Lochner was a leading activist in the American pacifist movement. Late in 1914 he was named Executive Director of the Chicago-based Emergency Peace Federation, working closely with social activist Jane Addams in an attempt to call an international conference of Neutral nations to mediate an end to World War I.[2] Lochner, Addams, and their Emergency Peace Federation were instrumental in convening a national conference in Chicago in February 1915 which brought together delegates representing pacifist, religious, and anti-militarist political organizations from around the United States.[3]

Lochner became a secretary to Henry Ford in 1915 and served as head of publicity for Ford's ill-fated "Peace Ship" in that year.[1]

Journalism career[edit]

Following the end of the war in 1918, Lochner moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to join the staff of the Milwaukee Free Press.[1] He also edited for the International Labor News Service, a press agency of the day.[1]

In 1924 Lochner was named to the Berlin bureau of the Associated Press.[1] He would remain in that position until 1946. During the course of his career, Lochner twice interviewed Adolf Hitler, the first time in 1930 and the second time in 1933.[1]

When World War II broke out with the German invasion of Poland in 1939 Lochner became the first foreign journalist to follow the German Army into battle. His bravery in remaining in Nazi Germany despite the outbreak of hostilities to provide objective and measured news coverage was rewarded with the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for correspondence.[1]

He reported further on the German side of the war, accompanying the German Army on the Western Front in the Netherlands, Belgium and France witnessing, the 1940 French surrender in Compiègne.

After the December 1941 declaration of war between Germany and the United States, the Berlin government imprisoned any Americans who remained in the Third Reich. Lochner was interned for nearly five months at Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt am Main, before being released in May 1942 as part of a prisoner exchange for interned German diplomats and correspondents.

Upon his release Lochner took eight months leave of absence for an extended lecture tour throughout North America, which he spent publicly attacking Nazism and warning of its dangers.[1] It was in this interval that he wrote a book warning of the fascist menace, entitled What About Germany?[1]

From 1942 to 1944, Lochner worked as a news analyst and radio commentator for the National Broadcasting Company.[1] Thereafter he departed once again for Europe, working as a war correspondent until after the end of World War II.[1]

Post-war years[edit]

In 1948, Lochner translated and edited a volume of diary material written by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, a book which attained considerable commercial success. This set Lochner on a new path as a writer of non-fiction books. During the decade of the 1950s, Lochner published an additional three volumes on various aspects of the German history and current affairs.

Lochner also returned to his Lutheran roots as a member of the editorial board of The Lutheran Witness and a columnist for The Lutheran Layman and The Lutheran Witness Reporter.

In 1955 Lochner published his memoirs, Stets das Unerwartete: Erinnerungen aus Deutschland 1921-1953 (Always the Unexpected: Recollections of Germany 1921-1953). The English language edition of this volume was published in 1956.

Lochner spent his later years compiling a series of articles for the quarterly journal of the Wisconsin Historical Society, published on the campus of his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin.

Death and legacy[edit]

Louis P. Lochner died on January 8, 1975[4] in Wiesbaden, West Germany.

In 2005 a posthumous volume of Lochner's German journalism was published as Journalist at the Brink : Louis P. Lochner in Berlin, 1922-1942, edited by Morrell Heald.

Lochner's papers reside at the Concordia Institute in St. Louis, Missouri. An online finding aid is available.[5] Many of the volumes from his personal library found their way to Valparaiso University in Indiana, an institution at which Lochner had lectured at various times during his career.[6]

The archive of the Henry Ford Peace Expedition of 1915-1916, including scattered material by Lochner, resides at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania as part of its Peace Collection.[7]

The papers of Lochner's son Robert, which include photographs of and correspondence by Louis Lochner, resides at the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.[8]


Books and pamphlets[edit]

  • 'The Cosmopolitan Club Movement', in Gustav Spiller, ed., Papers on Inter-Racial Problems Communicated to the First Universal Races Congress, London: P. S. King, 1911, p. 439ff.
    • Reprinted as The Cosmopolitan Club Movement, New York: American Association for International Conciliation, 1912.
  • Internationalism Among Universities. Boston: World Peace Foundation, 1913.
  • Personal Observations on the Outbreak of the War. Chicago: Chicago Peace Society, 1914.
  • Pacifism and the Great War. Chicago: Chicago Peace Society, 1914.
  • Wanted: Aggressive Pacifism. Chicago: Chicago Peace Society, 1915.
  • The Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation. Stockholm: Neutral Conference for Continuous Mediation, 1916.
  • Mexico — Whose War? New York: The Peoples Print, n.d. [c. 1919].
  • Die Staatsmännischen Experimente des Autokönigs Henry Ford (The Experiment in Statesmanship of Auto King Henry Ford). Munich: Verlag für Kulturpolitik, 1923.—Reissued as America's Don Quixote: Henry Ford's Attempt to Save Europe. (London, 1924) and Henry Ford: America's Don Quixote. (New York, 1925).
  • What About Germany? New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1942.
  • What About Poland? A Radio Broadcast over National Broadcasting Co. Beverly Hills, CA: Friends of Poland, 1944.
  • Fritz Kreisler. New York: Macmillan, 1951.
  • Tycoons and Tyrant: German Industry from Hitler to Adenauer. Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1954.
  • Stets das Unerwartete: Erinnerungen aus Deutschland 1921-1953 (Always the Unexpected: Recollections of Germany, 1921–1953). Darmstadt: Franz Schneekluth Verlag, 1955.
  • Always the Unexpected: A Book of Reminiscences. New York: Macmillan, 1956.
  • Herbert Hoover and Germany. New York: Macmillan, 1960.
  • Journalist at the Brink : Louis P. Lochner in Berlin, 1922-1942. (Morrell Heald, ed.) Xlibris Corporation, 2005; revised and corrected edition, 2007.

Edited or translated[edit]

  • Margaret Leng, The Wood-Peasant's Grandchild. Germany: Johannes Herrmann, n.d. [c. 1920s].
  • Rosa Luxemburg, Letters to Karl and Luise Kautsky from 1896 to 1918. New York, R.M. McBride and Co., 1925.
  • Joseph Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-1943. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948.

Selected articles[edit]

  • "Communications and the Mass-Produced Mind," Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 41, no. 4 (Summer 1958), pp. 244–251.
  • "Aboard the Airship Hindenburg: Louis P. Lochner's Diary of Its Maiden Flight to the United States," Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 49, no. 2 (Winter 1965/66), pp. 101–121.
  • "Round Robins from Berlin: Louis P. Lochner's Letters to His Children, 1932-1941," Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 50, no. 4 (Summer 1967), pp. 291–336.
  • "The Blitzkrieg in Belgium: A Newsman's Eyewitness Account," Wisconsin Magazine of History, vol. 50, no. 4 (Summer 1967), pp. 337–346.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Louis Lochner, 1887-1975," Traces.org. Retrieved May 10, 2011.
  2. ^ Archibald Stevenson, ed., Revolutionary Radicalism: Its History, Purpose and Tactics with an Exposition and Discussion of the Steps Being Taken and Required to Curb It, Being the Report of the Joint Legislative Committee Investigating Seditious Activities, Filed April 24, 1920, in the Senate of the State of New York: Part 1: Revolutionary and Subversive Movements Abroad and at Home, Volume 1. Albany, NY: J.B. Lyon Co., 1920; pp. 971-972. Hereafter: Lusk Report.
  3. ^ Stevenson (ed.), Lusk Report, vol. 1, pg. 974.
  4. ^ Elizabeth A. Brennan, Elizabeth C. Clarage - Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners
  5. ^ Louis P. Lochner Family Collection finding aid, Concordia Historical Institute, Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, St. Louis, MO. chi.lcms.org/
  6. ^ "Louis P. Lochner Collection," Valparaiso University, library.valpo.edu/
  7. ^ "Henry Ford Peace Expedition Records, 1915-1916," Collection: DG 018, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA. www.swarthmore.edu/
  8. ^ "Register of the Robert H. Lochner Papers," Collection no. 2007C33, Online Archive of California.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barbara S. Kraft, The Peace Ship: Henry Ford's Pacifist Adventure in the First World War. New York: Macmillan, 1978.

External links[edit]