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Revenants of the German EmpireColonial Germans, Imperialism, and the League of Nations$
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Sean Andrew Wempe

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190907211

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190907211.001.0001

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“O Afrika, Meine Seele ist in dir geblieben”

“O Afrika, Meine Seele ist in dir geblieben”

Heimat and Citizenship for German Settlers in the 1920s

(p.68) 2 “O Afrika, Meine Seele ist in dir geblieben”
Revenants of the German Empire

Sean Andrew Wempe

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 looks at memory and imperial identity among former German settlers, those repatriated to Germany from East Africa after the First World War. Many former settlers, both those who had been repatriated and those who remained in Africa in the new mandates controlled by Britain and South Africa, sought naturalization in other European empires or petitioned the new international system in hopes of autonomous rule for a German-African state that would answer only to the League of Nations itself. Like Pieter Judson’s ethnic communities in the Habsburg borderlands and Tara Zahra’s “nationally indifferent” Germans in the Bohemian lands, German settlers in and from Africa mercurially adapted their understandings of nationality in pursuit of their own self-interests. This chapter analyzes the ways in which the colony became the preferred locus of German identity for civilians who had lived in Germany’s largest settler colonies, German East Africa. The author focuses on memoirs of repatriated settlers who spent seven years or more in East Africa in order to demonstrate how the colony became a site of memory that served as a foil to what they viewed as the decaying German nation in Europe. Narratives of individuals from the German settlements of Morogoro, Tanga, Iringa, and Dar Es Salaam feature in this section, offering a balance of interior and coastal settings. The sample includes male and female settlers, taking into account a number of occupations and varying durations of settlement in the colonies.

Keywords:   German East Africa, East African mandate, Heimat, Weimar Germany, memory, settler colonialism

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