Empire and national character: British imperialism in books from the "Third Reich"
AbstractThis thesis examines the variety of representations and rhetorical deployments of the theme of British Imperialism within books published in the “Third Reich”. The thesis considers these books not only as vehicles for particular ideas and arguments but also as consumer objects and therefore as the product of a series of compromises between the needs of a host of actors, both official and commercial. It further traces the origins of the component parts of these texts via the history of reuse of images and extracts and by identifying earlier examples of particular tropes of “Englishness” and the British Empire. British imperial history was a rich source of material for National Socialist writers and educators to draw on and lent itself to a wide variety of arguments. Britain could be, in turns, a symbol of “Nordic” strength, a civilisation in decline, a natural ally and protector of Germany, or a weak, corrupt, outdated entity, controlled by Germany’s supposed enemies. Drawing on a long tradition of comparing European colonial records, the British Empire was also used as a benchmark for Germany’s former imperial achievements, particularly in moral arguments regarding the treatment of indigenous populations. Through its focus on books, which were less ephemeral than media such as newspaper and magazine articles, radio broadcasts or newsreels, the thesis demonstrates how newer writings sought to recontextualise older material in the light of changing circumstances. Through managing the context in which earlier British and Anglophile material was read, doubt could be cast on the integrity of such views and on the trustworthiness of what was styled as the “English national character”. This demonisation of Britain through her imperial record became a key focus of Anglophobic books published in Germany during the Second World War.
TypeThesis (University of Nottingham only)
Stiles, Victoria (2015) Empire and national character: British imperialism in books from the "Third Reich". PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.