1920: German man spanks American wife to avenge war defeat

In October 1920, a German-born New York man named Paul Schoenhoff appeared before a magistrate charged with “disorderly conduct”. The charge stemmed from Schoenhoff’s regular habit of giving an “old-fashioned spanking” to his wife, Matilda.

This practice could not have been easy, claimed one press report, as Matilda Schoenhoff weighed 200 pounds while the defendant was considerably smaller. Schoenhoff also forced his wife to live in the basement and made her pay rent of six dollars a month.

Asked under oath why her husband spanked her, Matilda Schoenhoff said it was an act of retribution for Germany’s defeat in World War I:

“When asked his reason for spanking her, she said he would reply that he was a German and she an American and he would get revenge by beating her.”

Schoenhoff was found guilty, placed on probation and warned not to mistreat his wife in the future.

Source: The New York Tribune, October 24th 1920. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.