Seeds of German Racism Before the World Wars

Seeds of German Racism Before the World
Wars

National Agenda and Ethnic Pride
Fosters Increased Racism in Germany.
In the colonization of Africa
in the late 1800s through WWI, the United Kingdom, France, and others
did not impose outright slavery in the strict sense of the term. The
Germans, on the other hand, did enforce slave labor in Africa. Germany
had never possessed an overseas empire like its chief rival European
powers, so it was particularly enthusiastic in its expansionism
ambitions. It was least of all concerned about the welfare of its new
subjects, even inflicting genocide upon natives in its South-West Africa
colony, in order to clear land for its own settlers. Germany was trying
to catch up from behind so to speak, since it was a new global power, so
human rights was further down the priority list with Germany than with
other European powers. This may explain why the Germans embraced racist
scientific/theological theories with greater zeal than most Europeans,
and why they were more brutal in their treatment of black Africans, even
well before the Nazi party and its extremist-racial policies.

(Continued Below)


Aryan Race Theory Born. By the late
1800s, a far-right organization by the name of Alldeutscher Verband was
established to promote pro-German policies (unifying Germans from across
the continent), and to preserve the German racial purity. This group
viewed other races (including Jews) as sub-human, buying into the theory
that different races came from different seeds with no common ancestry.
They asserted that just as a human was different from an ape, a white
European was different from a black African. This gave birth to the
Aryan Race theory, claiming that white Europeans descended from a
superior seed of blonde/blue-eyed ancestors originating in modern
Germany (Nordics). Those that migrated south were claimed to have mixed
with the inferior Semites (Jews, Arabs), developing darker features,
such as Italians and Greeks. They were still superior to Semites, but
not as superior as Nordics. Most Europeans believed this by the end of
the 19th century, including scientists (proving they were more swayed by
personal-held beliefs than scientific reasoning), while the minority of
scientists were critical of the theory. The Aryan Race theory especially
took root in Germany, since it was the supposed homeland to the superior
Aryan race, therefore they could argue that they were the most pure of
the most advanced race, causing them to be more emotionally-vested in
the theory. Hitler was strongly influenced by Alldeutscher Verband,
which directly inspired his book “Mien Kampf”. Such theories endorsed
the idea that white Europeans should not mix with other races, to avoid
dilution and regression of the superior race. Hitler would later take
this a leap farther by asserting that other seeds (Jews in particular)
should be exterminated, to avoid corruption of the Aryan race. These
ideas found favor with the Germans (although extermination to a lesser
extent) since racial supremacy had supported their national agenda and
ethnic pride for decades, rooting back to the 1800s.

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Geopolitical Factors in German Racism.
It can be argued that geopolitical factors created such an environment.
Since the Germans were in a less vulnerable position than many other
European nations, they had less impetus to consolidate, resulting in a
decentralized Holy Roman Empire which lasted centuries. Since rivals
such as England, France and Spain were more compelled to consolidate,
they serendipitiously became better-equipped to project their power
abroad, while the Germans were more inwardly-focused. However, the
Germans were finally compelled to consolidate after being overrun by
France during the Napoleonic Wars, resulting in a national desire and
capability to expand overseas. In the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars,
nationalism escalated rapidly, as Germans saw their rival European
powers conquering the world, while they struggled to maintain unity and
sovereignty. When they did finally unify under Prussia in 1870, they
were especially driven to gain resources in order to catch up. With all
of these factors at play, German national pride was palpable, and their
aura of racial superiority unmatched. As a result, they viewed the
natives of their conquered African lands as nothing more than a pest
problem, enslaving or destroying them as was expedient in achieving
national purposes. After their defeat in WWI, German pride was wounded,
but rebounded with ferocity after hitting an economic, psychological and
military low point. Again, racist policies supported the German national
agenda and pride in the face of great opposition and adversity, giving
rise to the Nazi party which would rise to power. This time, the
European/German Jews were the target of German aggression, as they no
longer possessed African colonies, and their challenges were primarily
directed at their homeland and their near abroad. As was the case in
Africa decades earlier, Nazi Germany was predisposed to adhere to a
racist ideology, perceiving the Jews to be part of their geopolitical
and societal struggles. Therefore, Germans were prepared to deal with
perceived Jewish issue with cold and heartless
calculation.

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