If you thought that conspiracy theories were a modern invention, this one banged around the US newspapers in September 1918. Sadly, the influenza didn’t respect any borders and raged through Europe as readily as it did the USA:
Riverside Daily Press
19 September 1918
SPANISH INFLUENZA BROUGHT BY HUNS
Head of Health Section of Shipping Board Believes
Huns Sent Ashore from U-Boats to Spread the Germ
Have Started Epidemics in Europe
WASHINGTON, Sept. 19. — Widespread appearance of Spanish influenza along the Atlantic coast recalls warning of naval officers some weeks ago that German submarines may be responsible. Lieut. Col. P. S. Doane, head of the health section of the shipping board, today reiterated the warning.
He declared; “It is quite possible the epidemic was started by huns sent ashore by boche submarine commanders. We know that men have been sent ashore from German submarines and it would be quite easy for these agents to turn loose the germs in theaters and other places where large numbers of people are assembled,”
When the original warning went out, it followed the capture and retention by U-boat commanders of crews and passengers from torpedoed ships and their ultimate release. It was feared that these prisoners might have been inoculated with the germs and then released to spread them.
The fact that the disease has appeared in cities where there are army or navy training camps adds strength to the theory that Germans may have disseminated the germs. It has been pointed out that the malady made its appearance in Spain after the appearance in ports of that country of German U-boats. “The Germans have started epidemics in Europe, and there is no reason why they should be particularly gentle to America,” said Colonel Doane.
Note how the “Yankees” superior diet helped them avoid the flu:
Sacramento Union 20 September 1918
Yankees Immune to Spanish Influenza
Spanish influenza is ravaging Europe. Deaths to the number of 700 occurred in Spain alone. All soldiers from the allied countries suffered severely from the disease except the Americans, who, being better fed and better clad, resisted easily any attacks of the plague Surgeon General Blue of the public health service has advised the state board of health to watch for cases of Spanish influenza and report them immediately to Washington.