Germany and the Union of South Africa in the Nazi Period

Germany and the Union of South Africa in the Nazi Period

Germany and the Union of South Africa in the Nazi Period

Germany and the Union of South Africa in the Nazi Period

Synopsis

This is the first study to examine Nazi German foreign policy towards the Union of South Africa from 1933-1939. Making extensive use of unpublished primary source German documents, Citino focuses on the activities of the German embassy and consulates within South Africa in order to answer four basic questions: What role did race and racial theory play in German foreign policy towards South Africa? Did Germany attempt to exploit South African yearnings for international respect, and if so how? Did the Germans seek to take advantage of deep divisions within South African society between British and Afrikaners? Finally, to what extent was the German Foreign Office "Nazified" in the 1930s?

Excerpt

There have been, quite literally, thousands of books written about Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, and Nazi foreign policy. These have ranged from best-sellers (if not scholarly breakthroughs) like William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to scholarly masterpieces like Klaus Hildebrand Deutsche Aussenpolitik, 1933-1945 (translated into English as The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich). The author of any new entry into this crowded field must, therefore, begin by justifying his own work.

This work purports to be neither a popular book for the masses nor a synthetic look at Nazi foreign policy in toto. It deals with a fairly circumscribed period, 1933-1939, and a narrow topic: German foreign policy toward the Union of South Africa. Further, the focus of the work is not on Hitler, whose feverish rantings on world affairs typically occupy a disproportionate share of space in such books. Instead, this book concentrates on the policies and views of German diplomatic personnel inside South Africa, especially the German consular (later ambassadorial) officials in Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Pretoria.

The nature of Nazi foreign policy toward South Africa poses several questions to the researcher. First, there is the question of race. Both countries were officially "racist" states during the 1930's, in that members of different races were not equal before the law. What role, one may ask, did race and racial theory play in German foreign policy toward South Africa? Second, South Africa was a former member of the Allied camp, a former colony of Great Britain now seeking a new independent role in world affairs. Did Germany seek to exploit South African yearnings for international respect, and if so, how? Third, South Africa was (and is) a land whose white population was deeply divided between British and Afrikaner. Did the Germans seek to . . .

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