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Colonialism, Antisemitism, and Germans of Jewish Descent in Imperial Germany

Christian Davis

Publication Year: 2011

Colonialism, Antisemitism, and Germans of Jewish Descent in Imperial Germany examines the relationship between the colonial and antisemitic movements of modern Germany from 1871 to 1918, examining the complicated ways in which German antisemitism and colonialism fed off of and into each other in the decades before the First World War. Author Christian S. Davis studies the significant involvement with and investment in German colonialism by the major antisemitic political parties and extra-parliamentary organizations of the day, while also investigating the prominent participation in the colonial movement of Jews and Germans of Jewish descent and their tense relationship with procolonial antisemites. Working from the premise that the rise and propagation of racial antisemitism in late-nineteenth-century Germany cannot be separated from the context of colonial empire, Colonialism, Antisemitism, and Germans of Jewish Descent in Imperial Germany is the first work to study the dynamic and evolving interrelationship of the colonial and antisemitic movements of the Kaiserreich era. It shows how individuals and organizations who originated what would later become the ideological core of National Socialism---racial antisemitism---both influenced and perceived the development of a German colonial empire predicated on racial subjugation. It also examines how colonialism affected the contemporaneous German antisemitic movement, dividing it over whether participation in the nationalist project of empire building could furnish patriotic credentials to even Germans of Jewish descent. The book builds upon the recent upsurge of interest among historians of modern Germany in the domestic impact and character of German colonialism, and on the continuing fascination with the racialization of the German sense of self that became so important to German history in the twentieth century.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Social History, Popular Culture, and Pol


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p. ix

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Introduction: Colonialism, Antisemitism, and Germans of Jewish Descent

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pp. 1-24

On March 13, the Social Democratic leader August Bebel vehemently denounced the colonial official Carl Peters for his alleged brutality against Africans in 1891 and 1892 while serving as an imperial commissioner in German East Africa. According to Bebel, Peters married an African girl in accordance with local tradition but executed her along with her lover, one of Peters’s male ...

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1. Antisemitism, Colonialism, and Colonial Violence

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pp. 25-76

The German colonial empire came into being on April 24, 1884. On that day, the German consul at Cape Town received a telegram from Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in Berlin, proclaiming that the government had taken under its protection areas in southwestern Africa purchased from local notables by a German tobacco merchant. Bismarck extended government protection to German commercial interests in Togo and Cameroon ...

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2. The Meeting of Jews and Africans in the German Imagination

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pp. 77-132

In May 1912, the Christian-conservative newspaper the Reichsbote published two front-page articles dealing with the issue of miscegenation. The first, which appeared on May 5, addresses the debate taking place in the Reichstag at the time over the desirability of antimiscegenation laws in place in German Africa since 1905 and their recent extension to the island ...

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3. Jews, Germans of Jewish Descent, and German Colonialism

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pp. 133-195

When colonial director Paul Kayser resigned in October 1896 from his position as the chief administrator of the Colonial Division of the German Foreign Office, he did so under a cloud of scandal. In late July and early August, the German press had been abuzz with news of the recent sentencing to fifteen years imprisonment of an official of the German East ...

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4. Colonial Director Bernhard Dernburg: A "Jew" with "German Spirit" ?

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pp. 196-245

German chancellor Bernhard von Bülow introduced Bernhard Dernburg to the Reichstag as the new colonial director on November 28, 1906. Almost immediately, deputies from the political Left and Center attempted to draw the new director into a discussion of colonial atrocities. Following Bülow’s introduction and Dernburg’s own lengthy inaugural speech, ...

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pp. 246-256

Modern antisemitism has been described, correctly, as a reaction to the loss of distinction between “Jewishness” and “Germanness” that resulted from the Jewish acculturation to German ways that began in the eighteenth century.1 Antisemites attempted to substitute certainty for confusion about what separated “Jews” from “Germans” by asserting a binary ...


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pp. 257-272


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pp. 273-281

E-ISBN-13: 9780472027804
E-ISBN-10: 0472027808
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472117970
Print-ISBN-10: 0472117971

Page Count: 224
Illustrations: 7 B&W images
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Social History, Popular Culture, and Pol
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OCLC Number: 794700739
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Colonialism, Antisemitism, and Germans of Jewish Descent in Imperial Germany

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Antisemitism -- Germany -- History -- 19th century.
  • Dernburg, Bernhard, 1865-1937.
  • Germany -- Politics and government -- 1871-1918.
  • Germany -- Colonies -- Officials and employees -- Biography.
  • Germany -- Colonies -- Administration -- History.
  • Antisemitism -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
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