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German History from the Margins

Edited by Neil Gregor, Nils Roemer, and Mark Roseman

Publication Year: 2006

German History from the Margins offers new ways of thinking about ethnic and religious minorities and other outsiders in modern German history. Many established paradigms of German history are challenged by the contributors' new and often provocative findings, including evidence of the striking cosmopolitanism of Germany's 19th-century eastern border communities; German Jewry's sophisticated appropriation of the discourse of tribe and race; the unexpected absence of antisemitism in Weimar's campaign against smut; the Nazi embrace of purportedly "Jewish" sexual behavior; and post-war West Germany's struggles with ethnic and racial minorities despite its avowed liberalism. Germany's minorities have always been active partners in defining what it is to be German, and even after 1945, despite the legacy of the Nazis' murderous destructiveness, German society continues to be characterized by ethnic and cultural diversity.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii

This volume has its origins in a conference on “German History from the Margins” held at the University of Southampton, UK, in collaboration with the German History Society. We gratefully acknowledge the generous financial support provided by the Thyssen-Stiftung as well as by the German History Society, the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society, and the Hartley ...

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pp. 1-26

Why a collection approaching German history “from the margins”? It would be disingenuous to claim that German historiography has remained trapped in the corridors of power, its gaze wedded to the view from the center. More than thirty years ago, in the wake of the student revolutions of the late 1960s, historians of modern Germany assumed the moral and political challenge of ...

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One: Germans of the Jewish Stamm: Visions of Community between Nationalism and Particularism,1850 to 1933

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pp. 27-48

Nation-building engenders anxieties about the nation’s margins, and this is especially true in times of national uni¤cation. Once the initial wave of unifying enthusiasm has faded, debates about the relationship between national unity and diversity intensify. Even if there is little specifically German about this dynamic, Imperial Germany’s first decade serves as a graphic example of ...

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Two: Identity and Essentialism: Race, Racism, and the Jews at the Fin de Si

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pp. 49-68

Honoured Members of the Academy! You have done me the honour of inviting me to give your Academy an account of the life I formerly led as an ape. I regret that I cannot comply with your request to the extent you desire. It is now nearly five years since I was an ape, a short space of time, perhaps, according to the calendar, but an infinitely long time to gallop through at full speed, as I have done, more or less accompanied by excellent ...

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Three: Prussia at the Margins, or the World That Nationalism Lost

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pp. 69-83

It is no secret that the eastern margins of Prussia constituted a zone of contact for diverse religious and ethnic groups. Indeed, the linguistic term “contact zone,” which has reentered mainstream historical parlance in the English-speaking world through the work of Mary Pratt, had long been used by conservative historians, like Walter Hubatsch, to describe the variegated ...

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Four: Völkisch-Nationalism and Universalism on the Margins of the Reich: A Comparison of Majority and Minority Liberalism in Germany,1898–1933

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pp. 84-103

The failure of liberalism in Germany is one of the central questions in Modern European history, and rightfully so, since the rise of Hitler and National Socialism is both a cause and a consequence of German liberal decline. Nevertheless, while most historians have touched on liberal disintegration as a primary leitmotif in modern German history, much of this work has ...

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Five: “Volksgemeinschaften unter sich”: German Minorities and Regionalism in Poland, 1918–39

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pp. 104-126

In the wake of World War I, the Polish state was cobbled together from the remains of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and German empires. This feat was a test of political, cultural, and social integration not only for the Poles, since fully a third of the country’s population was not considered “Polish.” Ethnic Germans, while not the largest minority, were significant because the ...

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Six: A Margin at the Center: The Conservatives in Lower Saxony between Kaiserreich and Federal Republic

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pp. 127-145

On the face of it, German conservatism would not appear to offer fruitful territory for an exploration of German history “from the margins.” True, conservative parties rarely won a majority of electoral support, but the strong position in society of those groups conventionally referred to as “the Conservatives” seems obvious. Politically, they wielded power through their dominance ...

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Seven: “Black-Red-Gold Enemies”:Catholics, Socialists, and Jews in Elementary Schoolbooks from Kaiserreich to Third Reich

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pp. 146-164

The organization of German schooling in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries largely mirrored the division of German society according to religion, region, and class. This makes the varied and changing content of elementary education a potentially useful source for thinking about continuities and ruptures over time and about the layering of voices from the margins ...

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Eight: “Productivist” and “Consumerist” Narratives of Jews in German History

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pp. 165-184

It is a truism that historians need sources for their research. A good historian, it is generally agreed even by those who emphasize the importance of models and theory, is one who allows her- or himself to be guided by the records. Thus the history of nineteenth-century German antisemitism, for example, has usually been written citing the published utterances of antisemites or ...

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Nine: How “Jewish” is German Sexuality? Sex and Antisemitism in the Third Reich

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pp. 185-203

Most scholars presume that the Third Reich was characterized by generalized sexual repression. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s and into the twenty-¤rst century, the Third Reich has routinely been described, in an assertive sort of shorthand, as “sex-hostile,” “unhappy, lifeless, pleasureless,” distinguished by “strict physiological-sexual norms of behavior” or “official German prudery.” 1 ...

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Ten: Defeated Germans and Surviving Jews: Gendered Encounters in Everyday Life in U.S.-Occupied Germany, 1945–49

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pp. 204-225

As we write the history of the post-1945 years, we are only now, it seems, rediscovering what was amply obvious to contemporaries: that occupied Germany in the immediate postwar period was the unlikely, unloved, and reluctant host to hundreds of thousands of its former victims, housed both in and outside of refugee camps mainly in the American zone and in the American ...

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Eleven: Afro-German Children and the Social Politics of Race after 1945

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pp. 226-251

This essay explores a formative yet understudied moment in the racial reconstruction of postfascist Germany: contemporary responses to the offspring of white German women and Allied soldiers of color after 1945. Four years of military occupation produced some ninety-four thousand occupation children. However, public attention rapidly fixed on a small subset, the so-called ...

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Twelve: The Difficult Task of Managing Migration: The 1973 Recruitment Stop

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pp. 252-267

In Germany’s post-1945 migration history, 23 November 1973 marks a turning point. On this day, almost eighteen years of organized foreign labor recruitment, and thus a major period of primary immigration, ended. A long phase followed in which West Germany tried to at least partly revise the process of immigration, and it was only in the year 2000 that a new citizenship ...

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Thirteen: How and Where Is German History Centered?

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pp. 268-286

First, a strong distinguishing thesis: Germany’s continuity as a national state, far more than that of the other European polities shaped by the constitution-making of the 1860s (including Italy, its exact peer as a newly uni¤ed country), has been repeatedly spoiled. Its official borders have been frequently and drastically redrawn; within the claims to nationhood the gaps between territorial ...


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pp. 287-290


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pp. 291-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780253111951
E-ISBN-10: 0253111951
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253347435

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 1 index
Publication Year: 2006