Under the Map of Germany: Nationalism and Propaganda, 1918-1945

Under the Map of Germany: Nationalism and Propaganda, 1918-1945

Under the Map of Germany: Nationalism and Propaganda, 1918-1945

Under the Map of Germany: Nationalism and Propaganda, 1918-1945


At the close of the First World War, propaganda mapping played a crucial role in creating a consensus about German national territory. Herb provides a detailed analysis of the history and techniques of nationalist mapping in inter-war Germany.


What is the fatherland of the German? As far as the German language is heard.

(Ernst Moritz Arndt 1813)

We demand the unification of all Germans in one Greater Germany on the basis of the right of national self-determination.

(1. Programmpunkt der NSDAP)

The goal of national self-determination has always played a central role in German history. It also has given German nationalism an expansionist tendency because the German state rarely included the entire German nation. The most extreme manifestation of this expansionist tendency occurred in Nazi Germany, which justified most of its annexations and early conquests with the right of ethnic German self-determination. The vast majority of Germans believed in the rightfulness of these territorial acquisitions; it considered the Sudetenland, Austria, the Memel territory, and Alsace-Lorraine as well as parts of Poland to be unquestionably German national territory, despite the sizable and at times even majority presence of other nationalities. This view of a “Greater Germany” is still shared by a considerable number of Germans today. In 1989, the New Right German party Die Republikaner disseminated a map which claimed virtually the same areas for Germany in the name of national self-determination as the early Nazi conquests.

East and West Germany have been unified since the publication of the Republikaner map and the German government has signed several treaties, such as the German-Polish treaties on boundaries (November 1990) and on friendship and cooperation (June 1991), but the issue of German national territory is still not laid to rest. Associations for Germans expelled after the war from Eastern Europe (Vertriebenenverbände) continue to stress German rights to areas east of the current German state borders and New Right ideology has been adopted by members of mainstream parties, such as the Christian Democrats. An important element is the increase in revisionist historical scholarship, which led to the “historians’ dispute”

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