In 1918, a new and virulent strain of influenza swept the world, killing tens of millions. The spread was worsened by the fact that Europe was embroiled in the Great War, later to be called World War One. Recruits came from all over the United States to Army camps for training only to be struck down in waves before ever setting foot on foreign shores.
It was called “Spanish influenza” because it was thought to have originated in Spain (it struck France first, but France was censoring its newspapers) and because Spain was a traditional enemy of the US as recently as the turn of the century’s Spanish-American War.
Travelers brought it to Bremen within six months, and soon it speckled the headlines of both the front page and the obituaries. School, church services, and gatherings of all kinds were cancelled for months. Dozens of local residents contracted the disease, and many died. A second wave washed over the country and the town in late 1919 and lasted another few months.
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