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“Huns” and Other “Barbarians”

A Movie Ban and the Dilemmas of 1920s German Propaganda against French Colonial Troops

Julia Roos

In the early 1920s, Germany orchestrated an international propaganda campaign against colonial French troops stationed in the Rhineland that used the racist epithet “black horror on the Rhine,” and focused on claims of widespread sexual violence against innocent Rhenish maidens by African French soldiers, in order to discredit the Versailles Treaty. I argue that black horror propaganda fused elements of Allied propaganda—especially images of the barbaric “Hun”—with Germany's own wartime propaganda against colonial Allied troops. I use the significant film against colonial soldiers, Die schwarze Schmach (The Black Shame, 1921), to highlight the tensions and pitfalls of the German propagandistic strategy. As the debates over the film illustrate, black horror propaganda often had the effect of reminding audiences of German war crimes rather than diverting attention away from them. The ultimate ban of Die schwarze Schmach demonstrates the complex political nature of the 1920s backlash against atrocity propaganda.

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Elizabeth A. Bowman

The first internationally staged “terrorist” event—the Palestinian kidnapping of Israeli athletes—occurred in Munich Germany during the 1972 Summer Olympics. Sartre’s article “About Munich” concerns this event.

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Affinities with the 'Old' Continent or the 'Fatherland'

Assent and Dissent in U.S. Culture, 1830-1940

Waldemar Zacharasiewicz

Travel accounts invariably juxtapose the country visited, the cultural practices of its inhabitants and its sites and institutions with the corresponding phenomena in the country of origin. This frequently gives rise to, or reflects, ethical dilemmas since the process of cross-cultural representation involved naturally prompts an assessment of the cultural assets and the liabilities of the country of origin. The following article concerns itself with American accounts of travels to the ‘Old World’, especially to Germany and other parts of Central Europe, with reflections on United States society as a result of the encounter with the ‘Fatherland’ or certain aspects of other national cultures in Europe. This article sheds light on the significance of Germany to American travellers and its importance for the cultural debate in the United States. It examines the increasing attention paid to Germany because of its rise to a cultural centre in Europe. It also takes into consideration the ever growing number of immigrants to the United States from Germany and deals with the complex differentiation between German-speaking people. It further notes the awareness of American observers of the denominational divide between predominantly Protestant northern Germany and its Catholic south, which until the Great War included the German-speaking parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The various subregions of Germany elicited different reactions from the visitors depending on their own religion and cultural background. The study also pays special attention to American travellers from the Southern States, whose well-documented reactions to their European journeys deserve special consideration as they have been less frequently analyzed than those of their Northern compatriots.

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Christophe Charle

Thanks to a comparison of social and educational characteristics of elites in France, Germany and UK at the end of the nineteenth century, this contribution shows the specificities of the French case: a mixture of persistent traditional elites, akin to British and German ones, and the growing domination of a more recent economic and meritocratic bourgeoisie pushing for liberalism and democracy. Nevertheless, evolutions in the same direction as France are also perceptible in the two monarchies and give birth to a new divergence when after WWI the democratization of elites go faster in UK and Germany than in France where the law bourgeoisie remain dominant and blocks the reforms asked by more popular or petit bourgeois groups present in the political parties on the left.

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Adventurers and Agents Provocateurs

A German Woman Traveling through French West Africa in the Shadow of War

Jennifer Anne Boittin

When Dr. Rosie Gräfenberg traveled to French West Africa in 1929, she set the French security and intelligence service on high alert. Rumors preceding her arrival suggested she might be a Russian agent, a communist agitator, and a German spy, among other things. She, however, presented herself as a German journalist. This article contrasts Gräfenberg's autobiography and newspaper articles with French police archives to consider why the stories surrounding her life diverged so greatly and what variations in detail, fact, and tone reveal about how Franco-German relations influenced considerations of race, nation, gender, and sexuality in the French Empire. In part because her trajectory was so outlandish, Gräfenberg's writings help us to consider the influence of World War I upon interwar colonial politics, procedures, and presumptions.

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Alsace-Lorraine and Africa

French Discussions of French and German Politics, Culture, and Colonialism in the Deliberations of the Union for Truth, 1905–1913

Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

This article explores the ways in which French intellectuals understood the changing and intersecting relationships between France and Germany, France and Alsace-Lorraine, and France and Africa during the early twentieth-century expansion of the French empire. The body of the text analyzes the interdisciplinary discussions of Paul Desjardins, Charles Gide, and their academic and activist colleagues at the Union pour la vérité (Union for Truth) and its Libres entretiens (Open Conversations) in the immediate aftermath of the First and Second Moroccan Crises. Focusing on the Union's 1905–1906 and 1912–1913 debates over the issues of nationalism, internationalism, imperialism, and colonization provides a new understanding of the relationship between French national identity and French imperial identity. The conclusion explains how and why this group of largely progressive French political analysts simultaneously rejected German expansion into France and justified French expansion across the African continent.

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Walter Benjamin

The Consolation of History in a Paris Exile

Patrick H. Hutton

Walter Benjamin, a Jewish German literary critic of modest reputation during the interwar years, has become an intellectual celebrity in our times. In flight from Nazi Germany, he took refuge in Paris during the 1930s before dying in 1940 in a vain effort to escape to America. In this essay, I analyze his ideas as conceived in his Paris exile, with particular attention to his turn to the topics of memory and of history and of the relationship between them. I close with some thoughts on how his ideas about memory's redeeming power played into the humanist Marxism of the intellectuals of the 1960s and subsequently the preoccupation with memory in late twentieth-century scholarship.

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Silvie Lindeperg

Unanimously celebrated as an authentic representation of French railroad workers' resistance against the Germans during the Occupation, René Clément's La Bataille du rail (The Battle of the Rails, 1945) was a valuable piece of ideological capital in the wake of France's liberation. Through a close reading of the film's production and reception, this article shows that the film's heroic blueprinting of the Resistance was the result of mediation between two opposing points of view: that of the Marxist Left, which sought to portray the Resistance as belonging to the working class, and that of the Gaullists, who were intent on promoting the myth of an idealized "True France" without class or ideological divisions and united in its opposition to the Germans.

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Accommodating Vichy

The Politics of Marcel Pagnol's La Fille du puisatier

Brett Bowles

From late 1940 through mid-1942 Marcel Pagnol accommodated to varying degrees the demands of the Vichy regime and the German occupiers in order to ensure the survival of his film production business. In so doing, he placed himself in the ambiguous grey zone of thought and action that stretched between the poles of proactive collaboration and proactive resistance. Pagnol's wartime activities, especially the history of his film La Fille du puisatier (The Well-Digger's Daughter, 1940), offer insight into how material interest, ideology, and necessity shaped French industrialists' reactions to the Occupation. Pagnol's itinerary also reveals the compromise and conflict that often lay below the surface of Franco-German politics, while highlighting the importance that both regimes attached to cinema as a tool of economics, cultural policy, and propaganda.

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Carl Strikwerda

ten years before the war broke out, the major imperial rivalries were between Britain and France and Britain and Russia, not with Germany. Germany came late to the imperial game. By 1914, it had settled all of its disputes peacefully. 5 Lenin believed