Erin Hochman


Germany Unbound: The Politics of German Diaspora in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich

My study of diasporic German nationalism will provide new insights into the political battles of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich.  In an era when the idea of the nation became the organizing principle for the international order – demonstrated by the popularity of the idea of the right to national self-determination and the formation of an international organization titled the League of Nations – it also became the crucial term deployed to validate or contest democracy and fascism.  For German speakers both in the Reich and abroad during the interwar period, a German nation transcended the boundaries of the state due to nineteenth-century and interwar migrations and the creation of so-called German national minorities in East Central Europe after 1918.  Thus, a globally informed study of nationalism offers a fresh perspective on how opposing political groups deployed the national idea in an attempt to gain political legitimacy.

In examining the myriad views of nationhood in both the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, my book contests the claim that the idea of a German diaspora was simply the creation of the radical right and that Auslandsdeutsche were simply fifth columnists laying the groundwork for a Nazi empire.  The limited secondary literature on the politics of Germans abroad after 1918 has largely focused on their role in the spread of Nazism. However, both Germans in the Reich and German speakers beyond its borders possessed a wide range of political views and advanced competing definitions of Germanness. As I argued in my first book, the political right was not alone in expressing belief in a nation that transcended the boundaries of the state. I showed that republicans in the Weimar and First Austrian Republics also promoted an expansive vision of a German nation, but one that was compatible with democracy and a more inclusive understanding of the Volk. I now will expand the geographic scope of my research to better grasp the civic, cultural, ethnic, and racial concepts that were central to the conflicting attempts to define a German community that reached across the globe. Additionally, I will extend my exploration of interwar German nationalisms into the Nazi era to ascertain precisely what role the idea of a German diaspora and Germans abroad played the expansion and protest of Nazism.