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International Socialism, Winter 1966/7


Linda Potts



From International Socialism, No.27, Winter 1966/67, p.35.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Dream of Empire: German Colonialism 1919-1945
Wolfe W. Schmokel
Yale University Press, 45s

This is a study which attempts to complete the history of the German expansionist policies the seeds of which were planted by Bismarck. Colonial administration under Hitler is often neglected in histories of the Third Reich, partly because it never came to fruition but also perhaps because the revelation of the naked opportunism involved exposes the shallowness of the policy of appeasement. The book is interesting to the student of German history and no doubt fills the factual gap which, it says it does, but on the whole it is politically weak. The most interesting part is the comparison between Nazi views on colonial administration and the apartheid policy of South Africa, which demonstrates the inherent nature of capitalism, i.e. the extremes to which capitalists will resort in order to maintain their economic superiority.

It is well documented and academically sound; the facts are lucidly presented so that the universal nature of imperialism is shown. Schmokel ends with the point that in condemning that system (i.e. the planned German administration in Africa) we essentially condemn the whole ideology which justified European rule over non-European areas. The relative ease with which colonialism could be fitted into the structure of Nazi ideology must be considered an indictment against the whole colonial system. In the final analysis the same forces and ideas that brought about the defeat of National Socialism also overthrow imperialism. In other words the author recognises and attacks the inherent paradox of nationalism although largely from humanitarian rather than long-term political reasons.

Another point clearly demonstrates the way in which the colonies were used as political currency. The willingness of the western powers to barter African territories and populations in the grand style of the CIA for the sake of the peace of Europe, and to do so in the full realisation of the nature of the German dictatorship must cast the strongest doubts on the claim frequently made today that British policy in Africa foresaw and consciously aimed at the political emancipation of the colonies.

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