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Historia

On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X

Abstract

HYSLOP, Jonathan. The Kaiser's lost African empire and the Alternative für Deutschland: Colonial guilt-denial and authoritarian populism in Germany. Historia [online]. 2021, vol.66, n.2, pp.101-124. ISSN 2309-8392.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2309-8392/2021/v66n2a5.

This article examines the role which the "imaginary" of the empire that Germany lost in 1919 plays in the contemporary German extreme right, and especially its leading expression, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). It focuses on the symbolic importance of the former colonies in South West Africa / Namibia and East Africa / Tanzania and of the less emotionally charged, although also significant, German 'informal empire' connections to South Africa. The article highlights that the AfD draws on a considerable legacy of political activism concerning Africa stretching back through the colonial revanchist nationalism of the Weimar era, the global network of the Nazi Party's "Foreign Organisation", and the post-war populism of Franz Josef Strauß. AfD ideologues glorify the achievements of the Kaiserreich, and emphasise that Germany has nothing to be ashamed of, in relation to its record in the colonial era. With the recent demands from Namibia for the payment of German reparations for the 1904-7 genocide in that country, this past has become a very live issue in German politics, and the AfD has made much of its opposition to any admission of German culpability. The article also shows how the AfD portrays itself as the defender of the German minority in Namibia and of white South Africans, whose position is represented as a warning of what happens when white people allow racial "others" to attain political power. The analysis seeks to avoid simple "culturalist" /historicist explanations of the presence of these issues in contemporary politics, embedding its account in the continuities of significant social, economic and strategic relationships between southern Africa and Germany.

Keywords : Alternative für Deutschland; German colonialism; Herero reparations; Germans in Namibia; Franz Josef Strauß.

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