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Eurafrica: A Pan-European Vehicle for Central European Colonialism (1923–1939)

  • Benjamin J. Thorpe (a1)

Abstract

‘Eurafrica’, the continental-scale fusion of Europe and Africa into one political entity, was first developed as a political concept in the 1920s by the Pan-European Union, and named as such in a 1929 article by its founder and leader Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi. Within five years, this neologism had become a commonplace, as Eurafrica exploded across public political discourse. This paper unpacks what Eurafrica entailed in its original expression, what made it a useful concept for the Pan-European Union to employ, and what made it so appealing to a wider (European) public. It does so with particular reference to the way in which Eurafrica was presented as a means of opening up colonialism to those European states that lacked their own colonies. Partly, this meant appealing to German colonialists resentful at the stripping of Germany’s colonies at Versailles. Crucially, however, it also meant appealing to the broader ‘historical injustices’ that meant that Central European countries did not have access to colonies, and promising a future in which these intra-European ‘injustices’ could be transcended and Central Europeans could thus become equal partners in Europe’s mission civilisatrice in Africa.

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1. P. D’Agostino Orsini di Camerota (1934) Eurafrica: L’Africa per l’Europa, l’Europa per l’Africa (Rome: Paolo Cremonese), p. 3. Quoted in (and translated by) D.A. Atkinson (1995) Geopolitics and the Geographical Imagination in Fascist Italy. PhD Thesis, Loughborough University of Technology, p. 196.
2. Sörgel, H. (1929) Mittelmeer-Senkung, Sahara-Bewässerung, Panropaprojekt (Leipzig: Gebhardt); G. Güntsche (1930) Panropa: Roman (Cologne: Gilde); A. Sarraut (1931) Grandeur et servitude colonials (Paris: Editions du Sagittaire); J. Destrée (1931) Pour en finir avec la guerre, par une organisation fédérative de l’Europe, la constitution d’une police internationale et la reconnaissance pour les citoyens du droit de refuser le service militaire pour le crime de guerre d’agression (Brussels: L’Eglantine); H. Sörgel (1932) Atlantropa (Munich: Piloty & Loehle); G. Valois (1932) Note sur l’Afrique, chantier de l’Europe [Procès-verbal de la réunion du conseil économique de l’Institut d’économie européenne, le 17 novembre 1932] (Brussels: Institut d’économie européenne); E.-L. Guernier (1933) L’Afrique, Champ d’Expansion de l’Europe (Paris: Colin); J. Caillaux, D’Agadir à la grande pénitance (Paris: Flammarion, 1933); G. De Michelis (1935 [1934]) World Reorganisation on Corporative Lines [La corporazione nel mondo] (London: George Allen & Unwin).
3. Hansen, P. and Jonsson, S. (2014) Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism (London; New York: Bloomsbury), p. 32. See also C.-R. Ageron (1975) L’idée d’Eurafrique et le débat colonial franco-allemand de l'entre-deux-guerres. Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine, 22, pp. 446–475; J. Steffek and F. Antonini (2015) Towards Eurafrica! Fascism, corporativism and Italy’s colonial expansion. In: I. Hall (Ed.), Radicals and Reactionaries in Twentieth-Century International Thought (New York: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 145–169; S. Beckert (2017) American danger: United States empire, Eurafrica, and the territorialization of industrial capitalism, 1870–1950. American Historical Review, 122, pp. 1137–1170.
4. See, for instance, C.v. Ossietzky (1930) Coudenhove und Briand. Die Weltbühne, 26, pp. 783785.
5. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1926 [1923]) Pan-Europe (New York: Alfred A. Knopf). Its original German-language title was Paneuropa; I use the English-language title of the book in order to distinguish it from the organisation’s journal, also titled Paneuropa.
6. Zimmern, A. (1926) The Third British Empire. Being a Course of Lectures Delivered at Columbia University New York (London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press); cf. M. Sinha (2013) Whatever happened to the third British Empire? Empire, nation, redux. In: A. Thompson (Ed.), Writing Imperial Histories (Manchester: Manchester University Press).
7. See, Liniger-Goumaz, M. (1972) L’Eurafrique: utopie ou réalité? Les métamorphoses d’une idée (Yaoundé: Editions CLE); G. Martin (1982) Africa and the ideology of Eurafrica: neo-colonialism or pan-Africanism? The Journal of Modern African Studies, 20, pp. 221–238; M.-T. Bitsch and G. Bossuat (Eds) (2005) L’Europe Unie et l’Afrique (Brussels / Paris / Baden Baden: Bruylant / L.G.D.J. / Nomos Verlag); P. Hansen and S. Jonsson (2014) Eurafrica: The Untold History of European Integration and Colonialism (London; New York: Bloomsbury).
8. It thus brings together accounts of fascist internationalism in interwar Europe (A. Bauerkämper (2007) Ambiguities of transnationalism: fascism in Europe between pan-Europeanism and ultra-nationalism, 1919-39. German Historical Institute London Bulletin, 29, pp. 4367; A. Antic, J. Conterio and D. Vargha (2016) Conclusion: beyond liberal internationalism. Contemporary European History, 25, pp. 359–371) with those of fascist notions of extra-European colonialism (W.W. Schmokel (1964) Dream of Empire: German Colonialism, 1919-1945 (New Haven; London: Yale University Press); D. Atkinson (1995) Geopolitics, cartography and geographical knowledge: envisioning Africa from Fascist Italy. In: M. Bell, R. Butlin and M. Heffernan (Eds), Geography and imperialism, 1820-1940 (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp. 265–297).
9. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1953) An Idea Conquers The World (London: Hutchinson), p. 81.
10. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1929) Afrika. Paneuropa, 5, pp. 119.
11. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (n.d. [29 August 1929–18 February 1930]) ‘Afrika’, Paneuropa Korrespondenz/Correspondance Paneuropéenne (i.e. ‘Pan-European Correspondence’, the official news service of the PEU), Historical Archive of the European Union, European University Institute, Florence, PAN/EU 28, 771/3/14, 20,21,22; R.N. Coudenhove-Kalergi, ‘The African Problem’ (n.d. [c.1929]), Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv (RGVA), Moscow, 554k/5/53, 118-126.
12.Here and unless otherwise indicated, the translation is mine.
13. Reply of the Allied and Associated Powers to the Observations of the German Delegation on the Conditions of Peace (1919) Sessional Paper No. 41d, in Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada, 55, Volume 1: Third Session of the Thirteenth Parliament, p. 14.
14. Schnee, H. (1924) Die koloniale Schuldlüge (Berlin: Sachers and Kuschel), published in English as H. Schnee (1926) German Colonization Past and Future: The Truth About the German Colonies (London: George Allen & Unwin). See W.W. Schmokel (1964) Dream of Empire: German Colonialism, 1919-1945 (New Haven & London: Yale University Press).
15. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1932) Reparationen und Kolonien. Paneuropa, 8, pp. 711 p. 9.
16. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1939) Europe to-morrow. International Affairs, 18, pp. 623640 p. 640.
17. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1933) ‘Plan for a Reform of the League of Nations’, Pan-European Union, Hofburg, Vienna (December), received by the League 6 February 1934; League of Nations Archive, Geneva, 50/8258/8258, Jacket 1, p. 6.
18. Townsend, M.E. (1938) The German colonies and the Third Reich. Political Science Quarterly, 53, pp. 186206.
19. Hitler, A. (1939 [1925–26]) Mein Kampf (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock), p. 924.
20. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (1937) Djibuti. Paneuropa, 13, pp. 9397 p. 95.
21. Mackinder, H.J. (1919) Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of Reconstruction (London: Constable and Company), p. 260; cf. G. Kearns (1984) Closed space and political practice: Frederick Jackson Turner and Halford Mackinder. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 2, pp. 23–34.
22. Fox Bourne, H.R. (1903) Civilisation in Congoland: A Story of International Wrong-Doing (London: P.S. King & Son); E.D. Morel (1904) King Leopold’s Rule in Africa (London: William Heinemann).
23. Coudenhove-Kalergi, R.N. (n.d. [c.1929]) ‘The African Problem’, RGVA, 554/5/53, 118-126; 125.

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