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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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Echte Deutsche or Half-Baked Englishmen

Echte Deutsche or Half-Baked Englishmen

German Southwest African Settlers and the Naturalization Crisis, 1922–1924

(p.96) 3 Echte Deutsche or Half-Baked Englishmen
Revenants of the German Empire

Sean Andrew Wempe

Oxford University Press

From the moment South Africa made the unorthodox decision to allow Germans to remain in the mandate territory, this group of settlers became the focal point of a unique diplomatic struggle. Who had jurisdiction over German communities in the mandates—the Weimar Republic, the Union of South Africa, the British Empire, or the League of Nations? What citizenship status—and therefore, what rights—did this particular body of “Germans abroad” living in a mandate have? This chapter investigates how the search for answers to these questions transformed into an international dispute in the early 1920s, culminating in the Naturalization Crisis of 1922–1924 when the Union of South Africa attempted to automatically naturalize all Germans in Southwest Africa as British subjects. In the midst of German colonialist organizations pressuring them to fight to retain their German citizenship and debates in the League about the legality of South Africa’s naturalization of individuals within a mandate, Southwest African Germans constructed their own views on the purpose and value of citizenship as they strove to build not only an independent German identity in Africa, but also a self-governing state.

Keywords:   German Southwest Africa, Southwest African Mandate, South Africa, Naturalization Crisis, Weimar Germany, citizenship, nationality

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