A Forgotten Minority: The Return of the Auslandsdeutsche to Germany in 1919-20
This article examines the expulsion of Germans abroad (Auslandsdeutsche) from Allied countries and colonial empires in the aftermath of the First World War, and their somewhat negative reception in Weimar Germany in 1919-20. It does so against the background of what it identifies as a re-territorialisation of German national identity, beginning during the war itself and leading to an abrupt reversal of previous trends towards the inclusion of Germans abroad within broader transnational notions of Germanness (Deutschtum), rights to citizenship and aspirations to world power status. Re-territorialisation was not born out of the logic of de-territorialisation and Weltpolitik in any dialectical sense, however. Rather, its causes were largely circumstantial: the outbreak of global war in 1914, the worldwide economic and naval blockade of Imperial Germany, and its final defeat in 1918. Nonetheless, its implications were substantial, particularly for the way in which minority German groups living beyond Germany’s new borders were constructed in official and non-official discourses in the period after 1919-20.
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