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Decolonization in Germany

Weimar Narratives of Colonial Loss and Foreign Occupation


Jared Poley

When Germany lost its colonial empire after the Great War, many Germans were unsure how to understand this transition. They were the first Europeans to experience complete colonial loss, an event which came as Germany also wrestled with wartime collapse and foreign occupation.
In this book the author considers how Germans experienced this change from imperial power to postcolonial nation. This work examines what the loss of the colonies meant to Germans, and it analyzes how colonialist categories took on new meanings in Germany’s «post-colonial» period. Poley explores a varied collection of materials that ranges from the stories of popular writer Hanns Heinz Ewers to the novels, essays, speeches, pamphlets, posters, and archival materials of nationalist groups in the occupied Rhineland to show how decolonization affected Germans. When the relationships between metropole and colony were suddenly severed, Germans were required to reassess many things: nation and empire, race and power, sexuality and gender, economics and culture.
Contents: Colonial fiction and autobiography – Effects of colonial loss – Hanns Heinz Ewers (1871-1943) – Misogyny and imperial fantasies of empowerment – Expressionism and travel – Disease and metropolitan/colonial relationships – Colonial/postcolonial sexual violence – Metropolitan/colonial sexuality – Fantasies of hybrid combinations across the colonial/postcolonial divide – Rheinische Volkspflege – Alfred von Wrochem – Paul Rühlmann – Margarete Gärtner – Rhenish Separatism – Rheinische Frauenliga – Schwarze Schmach – German resistance to occupation, fantasies and anxieties of race – Racial and gender characteristics of Germans under French occupation – The occupation as inverted colonization – German analyses of the «colonization of the Rhineland by France».