Lost at Locarno? Colonial Germans and the Redefinition of "Imperial" Germany, 1919-1933 Open Access

Wempe, Sean Andrew (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/bg257f51k?locale=en


My project addresses the various ways in which "Colonial Germans" attempted to cope with the loss of the German colonies after the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. The German colonial advocates who are the focus of this dissertation comprised not only those individuals who had been allowed to remain in the Mandates as new subjects of the Allies but also former colonial officials, settlers, and missionaries who were forcibly repatriated by the Mandatory powers after the First World War. These Kolonialdeutsche (Colonial Germans) had invested substantial time and money in German imperialism. My analysis reveals the difficulties this diverse group of men and women encountered in adjusting to their new circumstances, in Weimar Germany or in the new Mandates, as they situated their notions of group identity between colonizers and colonial subjects in a world of colonial empires that were not their own. My work places particular emphasis on how colonial officials, settlers, and colonial lobbies made use of the League of Nations framework and investigates the involvement of former settlers and colonial officials in such diplomatic flashpoints as the Naturalization Controversy in South African-administered Southwest Africa, the Locarno Conference, and German participation in the Permanent Mandates Commission from 1927-1933. I end my period of analysis in 1933 with an investigation of the involvement of one of Germany's former colonial governors in the League of Nations' commission sent to assess the Manchurian Crisis between China and Japan. I spotlight how German men and women from the former African colonies exploited transnational opportunities to recover, renovate and market their understandings of German and European colonial aims in order to reestablish themselves as "experts" and "fellow civilizers" in European and American discourses on nationalism and imperialism. This study revises standard historical portrayals of the League of Nations' form of international governance, German participation in the League, the role of interest groups in international organizations and diplomacy, and liberal imperialism. In analyzing Colonial German investment and participation in interwar liberal internationalism, the project also challenges the idea of a direct continuity between Germany's colonial period and the Nazi era.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter One: A Question of Respectability: Colonial German Responses to the Treaty of Versailles and "Colonial Guilt" 40

Chapter Two: "O Afrika, Meine Seele ist in dir geblieben": Heimat and Citizenship for German Settlers in the 1920s 88

Chapter Three: Grasping for a "Great New Future": The German Colonial Lobbies in Search of a United Platform 159

Chapter Four: "Ravening Wolves" and Hopes of a Return to the Imperial Fold? The Press, Colonial Germans, and the Spirit of Locarno 204

Chapter Five: From "Unfit Imperialists" to "Fellow Civilizers": German Colonial Officials on the Permanent Mandates Commission 242

Chapter Six: "The Faithful Hounds of Imperialism"? Heinrich Schnee on the League's Manchurian Commission 288

Conclusion 316

Archives & Bibliography 343

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