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“Between Us and the French There Are No Profound Differences”

Colonialism and the Possibilities of a Franco-German Rapprochement before 1914

Jens-Uwe Guettel

This article argues against the importance of colonial tensions for the worsening of Franco-German relations between the two Moroccan Crises in 1905 and 1911. Traditionally, historians have interpreted the clashes of French and German interests over Morocco in the first two decades of the twentieth century as putting France and Germany on the path to armed conflict in 1914. This article shows, however, that the First Moroccan Crisis engendered intense efforts by both German and French pro-colonialists to come to a peaceful understanding with each other. The article thus demonstrates that in the early years of the twentieth century, French and German colonialists indeed thought in transnational terms; that is, their understanding of their own and their counterpart's interests was based on the recognition of mutually shared values and racial features that transcended both countries' European borders.

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Occupation, Race, and Empire

Maxence Van der Meersch's Invasion 14

W. Brian Newsome

In his 1935 novel Invasion 14, Maxence Van der Meersch painted a nuanced picture of the German invasion and occupation of northern France during World War I. Despite local controversy, Invasion 14 won national and international praise, losing the Prix Goncourt by a single vote. Though neglected in the wake of World War II, when the author's treatment of Franco-German relations between 1914 and 1918 ran headlong into evolving myths of widespread resistance between 1940 and 1944, Invasion 14 has garnered renewed attention as a window onto the occupation of World War I. Heretofore unappreciated, however, is Van der Meersch's use of colonial themes of race and empire. Based on research in the Archives Maxence Van der Meersch, this study explores the author's treatment of colonial motifs, demonstrating their centrality to the novel and the debate it generated.

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Krista Molly O'Donnell

The French Colonial Union (Union Coloniale Française) and the German Colonial Society (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft), two powerful imperialist lobbying associations, each began to promote white women's colonization in 1896. Their respective justifications for women's overseas settlement demonstrate the very different concerns that preoccupied French and German nationalists at the turn of the century. Strong public opposition to these campaigns also indicates the very different reactions from the French and German public to these imperialist organizations' extremist views on race, gender, and reproduction at the turn of the century.

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Jean Elisabeth Pedersen

“What is a nation?” Ernest Renan’s famous rhetorical question to an audience at the Sorbonne on 11 March 1882 has remained vital for a wide variety of scholars in fields as diverse as history, literary criticism, sociology, philosophy, and political science. Renan initially posed the question barely ten years after the close of the Franco-Prussian War, which had sparked the establishment of the French Third Republic, the unification of Germany under the leadership of Wilhelm I, and the transfer of the disputed territory of Alsace-Lorraine from French to German control in the months between July 1870 and May 1871. Renan made no overt mention of these events while he was speaking, but he rejected any possible answer to his question that might attempt to base the creation of nations and national identities on shared “race, language, [economic] interests, religious affinity, geography, [or] military necessities.” This explicit refusal constituted an implicit rejection of the entire range of German justifications for the acquisition of the two recently French border provinces.

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Brett Bowles

The politics of French and German cinema between the onset of the Great Depression and the end of World War II is far from a new topic of study. However, scholars have typically focused on one country or the other, rather than comparing the two, and prioritized high-profile directors (for example, Jean Renoir, Jean-Paul Le Chanois, Leni Riefenstahl, and Veit Harlan) whose work benefited from direct party sponsorship and served a clearly propagandistic function. Reflecting the evolution of cultural history and film studies over the past decade, this collection of essays seeks to enrich the traditional approach in three ways. The first is by expanding the definition of politics beyond official party or state discourse to include power-related issues such as representation of gender and gender roles; access to material resources including funding and technology; relationships between film creators and industry or government officials; and competition between commercial and ideological priorities in film production, censorship, and distribution.

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Franz A. Birgel

Characterized by Siegfried Kracauer as "the first and last German film that overtly expressed a Communist viewpoint," Kuhle Wampe (1932) is also noteworthy for being the only film on which Bertolt Brecht collaborated from beginning to end, as well as for its controversial censorship in the tumultuous political context of the late Weimar Republic. When set against the background of the 1920 Motion Picture Law and the censorship of two other high-profile films—Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin and Lewis Milestone's All Quiet on the Western Front—the political history of Kuhle Wampe highlights the indecisiveness, fragility, and fears of the German Left as the Nazis prepared to take power.

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Sandbags, Strikes, and Scandals

Public Disorder and Problematic Policing in Occupied Roubaix during World War I

James E. Connolly

women were targeted because the factory was working with the occupying German military authority. Some locals believed it was making uniforms, but it was in fact producing around nine hundred empty sandbags and trellises a day. 2 This “conflict

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Michael McGuire

On 21 March 1917, France’s Third Army described the utter desolation it encountered among 25,368 Picardy inhabitants just abandoned by Germany. That month, Third Army troops under General Georges Humbert entered Aisne, Oise, and Somme villages, such

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Envisaging Eternity

Salian Women’s Religious Patronage

Nina Verbanaz

and least instantaneous. They worked bit by bit, over lifetimes and through generations.” 4 These links were of particular importance to rulers in the German realm, who since Ottonian times had relied upon the church to help in matters of governance

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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.