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The German Minority in Interwar Poland analyzes what happened when Germans from three different empires – the Russian, Habsburg, and German – were forced to live together in one new state. After the First World War, German national activists made regional distinctions among these Germans and German-speakers in Poland, with preference initially for those who had once lived in the German Empire. Rather than becoming more cohesive over time, Poland’s ethnic Germans remained divided and did not unite within a single representative organization. Polish repressive policies and unequal subsidies from the German state exacerbated these differences, while National Socialism created new hierarchies and unleashed bitter intra-ethnic conflict among German minority leaders. Winson Chu challenges prevailing interpretations that German nationalism in the twentieth century viewed "Germans" as a single homogeneous group of people. His revealing study shows that nationalist agitation could divide as well as unite an embattled ethnicity.Read more
- Challenges common assumptions about German nationalism and Nazism in the twentieth century
- Challenges assumptions about solidarity within ethnic minorities
- Winson Chu extensively uses German and Polish archives
- Commended, 2012 Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History (Category B), The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, London
Reviews & endorsements
"In this fine study, Winson Chu examines the political sources of cohesion and conflict among ethnic Germans in interwar Poland. Because he demonstrates the prevalence of internal conflict even into the Nazi era, he significantly complicates conventional views about ethnic politics in Europe between the wars."
Roger Chickering, Emeritus Professor, Georgetown UniversitySee more reviews
"Winson Chu's authoritative study of the Germans of interwar Poland reminds us that under the rhetorical surface, nationalist conflict more frequently seeks to police its own supporters rather than to defeat an 'enemy nation'. He demonstrates convincingly that regional German nationalist interests in Poland were fundamentally irreconcilable, that Polish repression hardly caused these differences, and that the advent of the Nazi regime in Germany reinforced the existing fragmentation of regional German political interests in Poland."
Pieter M. Judson, Swarthmore College
"In exposing the internal and regional divisions within Poland's German minority, Chu forces us to confront the disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality of national solidarity in this period, and to reexamine the relationship between national identity, regionalism, citizenship, and borders (geographic, political, and cultural) … there is a great deal of interesting material here that is sure to generate discussion and further research."
"Chu shows in a fascinating epilogue how attempts to promote a sense of unity within West Germany among German refugees and expellees from Poland were crosscut by the persistence within the Landsmannschaften and in expellee narratives of regional identities, stereotypes, and rivalries."
Elizabeth Harvey, The Journal of Modern History
"… [an] excellent book … Chu’s focus on the regional distinctiveness of Germans in Poland allows us to appreciate the ironies of their nationalization and the combination of völkisch wholeness with regional divisiveness."
Shelley Baranowski, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
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- Date Published: June 2012
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107008304
- length: 344 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
- weight: 0.68kg
- contains: 3 b/w illus. 3 maps
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Note on translations, place names, and concepts
Abbreviations and acronyms
1. Phantom Germans: Weimar revisionism and Poland (1918–33)
2. Residual citizens: German minority politics in Western Poland (1918–33)
3. On the margins of the minority: Germans in Łódź (1900–33)
4. Negotiating Volksgemeinschaft: national socialism and regionalization (1933–7)
5. Revenge of the periphery: German empowerment in central Poland (1933–9)
6. Lodzers into Germans? (1939–2000)
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