Monday, February 28, 2005

Africa in German Literature 1880 and After

Representation of Africa and Politics of
German Colonialism in Africa 1880 and After

By Seth Quartey

Introduction and purpose

This paper documents the representation of Africa and the politics of German colonialism during this period. It aims at introducing students of German colonialism in Africa to some of the studies in this field. On the methodological side, I focus on the salient racist and imperialist publications that the intellegentia developed under the rubric, "Lebensraum". Rather than offering the views about the ongoing debates in the field of German colonialism, this exposition aims to present the reader to some instant references of some of main studies and key players. It is evident that this bibliography may arouse questions as to what may be included or not included. For that matter, I have selected a wide range of literary works, which outline how Germany pursued her colonial ambitions. The bibliography will lead the reader to additional related works. I include exposition of dissertations, some articles, and the “scientific” and religious theories within the African context to justify colonialism. The last parts examine colonial novels and discuss post-colonial theories that criticize new approaches on documenting Africa in the Western world. Since race and culture are the central organizing themes, and very sensitive as such, extensive quotations of some sources are included as well as a reformulation of some statements that may shed a different light on their original intent.

The date conventionally used for the climax of European colonization of Africa is 1884 when, on the tables at the Congress of Berlin, imperial Europe carved up the African continent in order to exploit raw material and minerals to keep the industrial machines in Europe functioning. Before then, pro-colonial forces had expressed their dissatisfaction with the on-going economic stagnation and consequent class alienation in many cities of Western Europe. These economic depressions plus increasing social unrest augmented the cries for colonial acquisition.

Now as a major part of the political agenda, there was a demand for opening up former and new territories for a rapidly industrializing Germany. In dire need of appeasing these outcries in his nation, Bismarck agreed to the Volks’ colonial ambitions. The main supporters of imperial policies were banking institutions and industries with agrarian and commercial interests . Thus, with mounting pressures from the financial institutions, a political base was created to promote colonial ideologies. This idea of Weltpolitik increased with the help of middle class demagogic discourses and a series of nationalist publications. In her bid for new Lebensraum, Germany annexed territories in Africa -- Südwest-Afrika (Namibia), Togo, Cameroon and Tanzania, and in the South Pacific regions -- New Guinea, Samoa, Nauru, The Caroline, Marianne, the Marshall Islands and Kiao-Chow in China.

With the slogan “only through colonies could Germany be made safe against social revolution,” (Stoecker, 1986:22) Africa and other non-European regions became the venue for popular research and literary themes. Led by missionaries and “traders,” the Germans acquired overseas territories, set up trade depots , and ruthlessly tried to eliminate practices that, by their standards, were evil and dark in those so-called less developed regions . Using the works of these colonialists, German writers introduced their nationals to other cultures through what are now commonly known as Trivialliteratur, and Tätigkeitsberichte kolonialer Gesellschaften. Mostly, these publications spread racist and revisionist ideologies. Apart from that, however, these publications ignored any brutal German imperialist past and were a pacifying mechanism to ameliorate internal social and political differences.

After World War I, Germany was deprived of her colonies in Africa and the South Pacific by the allies The Versailles Treaty that held Germany solely responsible for the war inflamed nationalist sentiments and turned into a popular target for colonial agitators. Nationalist publications argued for the return of their colonies and helped spread ideas of reestablishing new Kolonial Ideologien and to thwart the Kolonialschuldlüge. Such publications also helped prevent any redistribution of German colonies by the allies. Wolfe W. Schmokel (1964) writes

"Under the energetic leadership of the former colonial governors Theodor Seitz (1920-1930) and Heinrich Schnee (1930-1936), the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (DKG), despite its relatively small membership, showed some lively activity, especially in the field of colonial propaganda. Until 1928, the monthly Mitteilungen der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft was its main organ. In that year, it acquired the Deutsche Übersee, und Kolonialzeitung. A subsidiary, the Frauenband der DKG [...] Deutsche Jugend Deutsche Kolonien, designed to appeal to youth, carried glamorized biographies of colonial heroes, photographs, accounts of life in the colonies, colonial fictions, etc. It also helped to maintain German schools in the former colonies and supported the Koloniale Frauenschule in Rendsburg, which trained girls for life in overseas areas (2-3)."

Once the nation had become committed to this policy, a way had to be found that would lead to desirable outcomes. The maxim was “Zivilisation und Christentum hinaus in die Welt zu tragen” (Westphal, 1984; 15). Once the effects postulated by Zivilisation und Christentum were embedded in public opinion, the means to objectify the colonized or, as Fanon (1985) writes, the “Entfremdung des Schwarzen,” from their culture was initiated.

Exposition of the Literature

The first point of departure in laying out any expository bibliography on German colonialism is to look at the definitions of “colonialism” and “colonial literature”. Aimé Césaire, (1972) in Discourse on Colonialism, defines colonialism:

“What, fundamentally, is colonialism? To agree on what it is not: neither evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. To admit once for all, without flinching at the consequence, that the decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pirate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful projected shadow of a form of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself obliged, for internal reasons to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic economies...that the chief culprit in this domain is Christian pedantry, which laid down the dishonest equation Christianity=civilization, paganism=savagery, from which there could not but ensue abominable colonialist and racist consequences whose victims were to be the Indians, the yellow peoples and the Negroes” (9ff.)

Cesairé defines both the exploitative (trade) and Christian aspects of colonialism, as well as distinguishing the various approaches used in justifying colonialism: biological and moral. Joachim Warmbold (1982) defines colonial literature as:
Kolonial-literatur ist Trivialliteratur. Die Autoren präsentieren ihren Lesern eine Welt, die sich ausschließlich aus Klichees zusammensetzt. Vor einer stereotypen afrikanischen Kulisse kämpfen stereotype nationale ‘Helden’ um die Verwirklichung einer Pseudoidylle. Kolonial-literatur ist ‘Blut-und-Boden’ Literatur (27ff). Warmbold’s definition lays out certain features of racism that articulate themselves in “nationale Helden,” and of “death” to the object of evil, viz., the African.

These definitions draw our attention to the centerpiece of this project, that is, how can contemporary interest in rediscovering German literature on Africa be explained? The rationale leads many to the assertion that atrocities on foreigners in Germany are better understood when Germany’s historic and cultural relationships to non-German states are revisited. Another rationale is that Germany is not presently racially homogeneous, but rather has other ethnic groups that include over 400,000 individuals of African descent. The last rationale is that Africa was part of the corpus of German literary works in the Middle Ages, and played a significant role in education, literature and religion.

Numerous dissertations also focus on colonial representations and the politics of German colonialism in Africa. One of the latest is Lisa Marie Gates’ (1996) Images of Africa in Late Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century German Literature and Culture. Gates analyses the Völkerschau and carnival exhibitions of Africans in Hamburg that were popular at the turn of the century. She examines varieties of ethnographic publications and writings that documented this spectacle. She also discusses the development of the colonial adventure novel into the Nazi period. In a broader context, she lays out the ethnographic photography of Leni Riefenstahl whose pictures of the Nuba people capture the complex relations between Germany and Africa. The African is reduced to a “noble savage”, an immature creature or a thing with over-dimensional sexual anatomy. She writes that such biological incorrectness by anthropologists who claim that African cultures are primitive is the cause for such racial ridicule.

In another dissertation, Tales of the “Land of Stories”: Settlers and Anti-modernity in German Colonial Discourses on German South West Africa, 1884-1914 (Namibia), Udo Rainer Krautwurst (1997) discusses anthropologists’ fixation with an ‘ethnographic present’ which situates the ‘subject’ and ‘object’ in past and present colonial contexts. As such, he argues further, that anthropology’s uncritical acceptance of epistemological positing of history helps create an homogenous colonizer and an invisible colonized.

Daniel J. Walter (1996), in Creating Germans Abroad: The Policies of Culture in Southwest Africa, 1894-1939, discusses the policies pursued by the German cultural elite at the beginning of the century to establish and preserve specific versions of Germanness in Southwest Africa. The work stresses the methods used by the Germans to acquire land and institutionalize racial and national exclusion of the African. It also documents the political agitation against the “savagery” of the African in both Southwest Africa and Germany to enforce settlements.

Lora Joyce Wildenthal’s (1994) Colonizers and Citizens: Bourgeois Women and the Woman Question in German Colonial Movement: 1886-1914 examines the situation of German women who immigrated to German colonies at the turn of the century. She generally distinguishes personal commitment from the official imperial idea of white cultural superiority that legitimized their public role. Whereas some women contributed to the subjugation of the African, some were confronted with the “Koloniale Frauenfrage.” In order to achieve a new society, any interaction between the white woman and the African had to be controlled. For that reason, a Koloniale Mischehedebatte developed which later led to the ban on mixed marriages. Wildenthal concludes that the main aim of the white man had been to acquire women, raw materials and land, and that he abused the indigenous men to satisfy his warlike nature.

Apart from lectures and dissertations, various literary journals also thematize Africa in German literature. Susanne Zantop (1997), in Colonial Legends, Postcolonial Legacies, links colonialism to the outbreak of violence on foreigners in Germany. She argues that denials by German citizens that “we are not racists” had its source in Germany’s “colonial legend” (191), which associates itself with “victimhood” (198). She argues that this repressive mentality goes even deeper, since the Holocaust now overshadows any previous relations with colonialism. This position, she infers, has to do with the German government’s position on colonialism. She writes: “As late as 1965 ... whoever mentioned parallels between the genocide of the Herero and that of Jews and Poles abroad was confronted with the censors of the Foreign Office.” (199) She concludes that Germany’s motive of repressing colonialism indicates the need to show the “Holocaust as unique ... rather than a past historical continuum that included the racial theories preceding colonialism and the race policies of colonial times.” (200)

Ingeborg Solbrig’s (1990) American Slavery in the Eighteenth Century German Literature: The Case of Herder’s “Neger-Idyllen, is concerned with the impact of German university training on the intellectual development of W.E.B. Dubois and Alain LeRoy Lock, two African-American scholars. Dubois and LeRoy Lock studied in Berlin in the 1890s and 1910s, respectively. Solbrig builds her argument to neutralize myths and popular institutionalized misconceptions of biological or organic deformities about Africans.

All negative representations of the Africans are bound up with ideas about biological evolution or how they have socially and economically developed within their cultures. At this stage, I will look at how some seminal anthropological, geographical, religious theories depict Africa. As already seen, classical colonialism is a distinct geographical and territorial exploitation of the resources of others, and organized around race relationships. The following review shows how racial stereotypes were developed to legitimize colonial politics. Walter Markov (1964) writes:

Die Kolonialpropaganda, von Bismarck erlaubt und gefördert, kam rasch auf Hochtouren; zahlreiche Kolonialprojekte wurden in den siebziger Jahren entworfen. Mehrere Verfasser bemühten sich, die Notwendigkeit der kolonialen Eroberung theoretisch zu begründen (14).

Two influential German theoreticians helped in propagating the notion of racial inequality and Lebensraum. Rudolf Virchow, an anthropologist, and Friedrich Ratzel, a geographer, posited physiological (racial types) and geographical substrates as reasons for expansionist ambitions.Rudolf Virchow established his racist anthropological theories during Völkerschau of non-Europeans in the early part of this century in Hamburg, Germany. He constructed his theory by using biological determinants like sizes of the heads, noses, movements, comprehensibility of European cultural norms and sexuality. His findings fossilized the African as genetically inferior. He made the following observation:

Die hier Vorgestellten haben, obgleich körperlich im Ganzen gut veranlagt, doch noch die Charactere des Wilden in unverkennbarer Weise an sich, wie sich besonders durch die mangelhafte Entwicklung [sic] der Unterarme und der Waden, die schmalen mageren Hände und Füsse kenntlich macht. Die Extremitätenmuskulatur nimmt bei regelmässiger Arbeit unter geordneten Verhältnissen schon in der ersten Generation einen völligeren, oft sogar herkulischen Charakter an. (15).

Virchow observed that the African “Nasenindex” ... ohne Anstand annehmen dürfen, dass der gemittelte, osteologische Index der Nase ausgemacht platyrrhin ist” (19). In normal language, “platyrrhin” refers to a monkey-type. Furthermore, he stressed their “kriegerischen Erziehung und ihrer offenbaren Lust am Kriege” but somehow, due to contact with European civilization, they had attained a certain “Anstrich von Civilisation” that went beyond their normal intellectual development (20). The African body and character were equated with those of animals with biological irregularities, which rendered them objects to be exterminated. Therefore, the science of anthropology established a series of reasons to pursue settlement and permit the intruder to destroy without seeing the “other” as human.

Friedrich Ratzel (1897) embraced the concept of Lebensraum. The notion of Lebensraum became synonymous with colonial expansionism that aimed “für die politischen Bedeutung des Raums.” He argued that geographical expansionism is a natural phenomenon and a fight ums Dasein and Kampf um den Raum. Ratzel’s argument was a version of the biological explanation of superior behavior in which intelligence and survival instincts are construed as genetic characteristics of the European, which in turn predispose him to pursue a Weltpolitik. He stressed further: [I]n Europa wird künftig am größten sein, wer am größten in Außeneuropa ist (355). Clearly, therefore, Ratzel designated European aggression as a means for Raumbewältigung on the defining terms of race.

The validity of such perceptions depends on how colonial writers put it into practice. Gerhard Rohlfs (1882), in his Welche Länder können Deutsche noch erwerben? demanded Germany’s sovereignty over the Moroccan people. He made much of the fact that Morocco remained politically and socially a backward country and its aspiration for self-determination was not to be considered seriously. He regretted that the German government had little intention of annexing Morocco. He wrote:
Der Erwerb Marokkos ist in der Tat wert, im Auge behalten zu werden. Wenn es sich hierum handelt, kann dies natürlich nur durch den Staat geschehen, wie ja überhaupt alle nordafrikanischen Länder nur mit Gewalt kolonisiert, kultiviert und zivilisiert werden können...Man braucht sich deswegen auch keine Gewissenbisse zu machen (356). He argued that the Moroccans had no political power and that unless Germans, the superior race, intervene on behalf of “civilization”, things would turn out for the worst.

Among the more controversial authors was Adolph von Conring. In his Marokko - das Land und die Leute (1880), the views he expresses were just as negative as those of his predecessors were. When one compares these polemics, one finds hardly any contradictions to those stated in Virchow’s scientific findings. Conring writes:

Die heutigen Bewohner Marokkos werden niemals lernen eines der fruchtbarsten Länder der Welt gesund and nützlich zu machen...(314). Da finden wir vor den Toren Europas...ein großes gesegnetes Land, welches nur darauf wartet, durch eine arbeitsame Bevölkerung ausgebeutet zu werden und reichen Lohn zu gewähren ... In irgendeiner Weise eine Intervention Europas unbedingt über kurz oder lange erfolgen, und es ist daher Zeit, sich mit diesen Gedanken vertraut zu machen (317).

These pseudo-scientists exhibit more than a simple narrative for societal consumption. In all cases, they vacillate between narcissistic intellectual and moral judgments about the colonized to express their “well-minded” intention on German imperialism . Friedrich Fabri (1824 –1891), an inspector of the Rheinische Mission for twenty-five years, argued in like manner. In Does Germany need Colonies? (1879), he laid down a polemic about the role and need for colonies in recognition of Germans’ emigration. Fabri saw Germany as "the bearer of a culture mission" and if “the new Germany wants to protects its […] position of power, it must heed its Kultur - mission" through colonial conquest. In sounding the call for colonization, he would simultaneously involve the new territories in trade, and make those colonized a contingency for Christianization. At a time when Germans were living in colonies under foreign jurisdiction, Fabri gave ample arguments to sustain nationalistic feelings in German emigrants to remain German citizens. He urged the Bismarck government to take control of foreign territories where Germans lived. In his view, this would ease the burden of an overcrowded and industrialized Germany, which wanted to avoid domestic resistance from its own misfits. Baete (1968) rightfully adds, “Fabri was thinking of colonies […] as a remedy for the problem of over-population” (389), national pride and the tranquility which Germans “foresaw as results of European control" (392) Like many of his contemporaries, Fabri was under the spell of cultural differences and evolution. In the end, it becomes clear that he was inspired by an eagerness to bring the rothen Rasse under the control of the "white man" in order to impound on them a "higher sense of morality" and work ethics. Likewise, Gustav Warneck proposed proselytizing, according to the Pietistic tradition. Known as the "father of missiology," he turned missiology into an accepted academic discipline at the University of Halle in the late 1890s. In "Modern Missions and Culture" (1883), Warneck suggested that missionaries must develop an inward “compassion with the multitude,” which had not been responsive to the resources nature had offered them. It was the task of the missionary to bring these unorganized entities into the Volkskirche. Like Schleiermacher and Fabri, he adopted an ethnographic approach that touched more on entities governing the European identity. Warneck then detailed apocalyptic scenarios of the colonized world, which could only be saved through Volkschristianisierung. Important in this view is the physical presence of missionaries on these uncharted landscapes to open them up both as a textual space to possess and analyze, and as a Christian space to reaffirm Christian ideology.

After looking at “scientific” and religious justifications for colonialism, let us see how science was incorporated in colonial publications and the Völkerschauen. The literature offered in this section is mostly in the African context. A minor part focuses on German colonies in the South Pacific, since they were less significant concerning my aim.

In his novel, "Peter Moor Fahrt nach Südwest" (1906), Gustav Frenssens gives an account of German heroism during the Herero uprising in Southwest-Africa . Peter Moor, the protagonist, joins the German marines because he wants to expand his Lebensraum. His opposites are the “Schwarzen feige," who had killed German farmers “samt Frauen und Kindern” in Southwest-Africa. In this parody of metonymic identification, Frenssen reduces the African to a savage who must be destroyed. “Wir müssen an einem wilden Heidenvolk vergossenes deutsches Blut zu rächen” (6). Frenssen objectifies further Africans by giving them animal characteristics. Moor’s encounter with Africans eating on a ship is described as follows:

Sie...saßen und in gurgelnden Tönen miteinander schwatzen und wie sie um die großen Eßtöpfe hockten, mit den Fingern eine Unmenge Reis zum Munde führten, und mit ihren großen knarrenden Tiergebissen Beine, Gekröse und Eingeweide ungereinigt fraßen; es schien ihnen gar nicht drauf anzukommen etwas Schmackhaftes zu essen, sondern nur, ihren Bauch zu füllen. (30)

Frenssen embraces the traditional beliefs about Africans as savage and uncivilized. At the height of the narratives is the notion of Lebensraum, which sets the stage to claim territories as Moor and his men arrived in Southwest:

Wir sahen keinen Strauch, nicht einmal einen Grashalm, und keine Tier. Nur wir Menschen rollten auf unsern knarrenden Wägelein..” (37f.)

Hans Grimm’s novel, Volk ohne Raum (1932), contributed extensively to the racial policies of imperial Germany. Under four subtitles, Grimm narrates the colonial fate of the socialist German settler, Cornelius Freibott, who left an overpopulated Germany for the "open space" in Africa. In Heimat und Enge, Grimm writes about overpopulation and poverty due to the fast-paced industrialization. Fremder Raum und Irregang covers Freibott’s work and participation in the Boer War and his later imprisonment by the British. Deutscher Raum narrates Freibott’s temporary good life in Southwest-Africa. Das Volk ohne Raum tells of Germany’s total loss of all acquired territories due to her defeat in World WarI. In this section, Freibott returns to Germany only to come back to Southwest-Africa to find his farm occupied by the British. He is imprisoned for killing a Khoisan, the so-called “Bushman”. Later, he escapes and goes to Germany, where he propagates racial and colonial doctrines. Freibott denounced socialism and he is tragically killed for betraying the socialist doctrine. Volk ohne Raum shows a Kampf um den Raum occupied by “primitive” Africans who had no rights. It was influential in keeping Germany’s interest in the colonies alive. It claims that Germany’s internal insecurity is due to her limited Lebensraum, and the remedy is territorial expansion beyond her borders.

Grimm’s Die Kämpfe der deutschen Truppen in Südwestafrika (1907) focuses on German troops’ overtly racist perceptions about the Africans. The African is a Räuber, Viehdiebe and sonstige Gesindel so far as they offer any resistance. It terms anti-colonists who criticize such enslavement and extinction of Africans as Dünkels who show a Hasses auf die deutschen Wohltäter and are representative of the negroiden race.

Friedrich von Dincklage-Campe (1908), in Deutscher Reiter in Südwest. Selbsterlebnisse aus den Kämpfen in Deutsch- Südwest-Afrika narrates personal experiences of the German Schutztruppen in Deutsch-Süd-West during the Herero's resistance. However, personal experiences in this work are meant to show how the African is brutalized. The titles of these reports are illustrative. “Eine wildeJagd”, “Schießt mir die Kerls herunter”, “Uns gehört der Platz”, “Auf der Spur des Mörders,” “Das Maschinengewehr kam zur Rechten Zeit”, or “Das war kein Zuckerlecken”. [ Due to their strong resistance, the African had to be abgeschossen, ausgesäubert, zersprengt, to enable the Germans the Aufbau der deutschen Herrschaft On the basis of the prospects of colonization, as seen in this summary, writers manage to spread a mixture of the racial and Blut und Boden ideologies for the German government to seriously entertain colonial ambitions.

The Biases in their narratives against the local inhabitants and the exultation of the German colonialists was counteracted in a well-written work by Heinrich Loth’s Die Chistliche Mission in Südwestafrika (1963). Loth addresses this “false consciousness” and the fundamentalist behavior of German missionaries. He brings to his study an understanding of German missionary history and the development of white nationalism in South Africa. He examines conflicts between missionaries and Africans as the missionaries emerged as supporters of a racist white military policy in South Africa. He writes that the first missionaries of the Rheinischen Missionsgesellschaft came to Southwest Africa at a time when Herero territory, under the reign of Jonker Afrikaaner, was in the stage of feudal state formation. With the introduction of “Christianity” as an indirekte Bekehrungsmittel, the Rhein Mission was able to exercise a strong influence on the local population. The missionaries acquired a trade monopoly for their Waffenhandel, making them a centre of local power willing to use force. Locals could be taxed at will and coerced to produce raw materials needed for export, all under eine illusionare Form eines Kirchenstaates. Loth is especially critical of the political sociology of racial relations and the destruction of existing African social structures under the pressures from German religious sects. Boahen (1985) had similar views when he wrote “[...] the partition of Africa was due, in no small measure, to a ‘broader missionary’ and humanitarian impulse, which aimed at the regeneration of African peoples. It has been asserted, moreover, that it was the missionaries who prepared the ground for the imposition of colonialism.”

Regarding direct involvement of colonial writers in overseas possessions, it is obvious that their enthusiasm would generate critiques. In Geschichte der Deutschen Kolonien, Wilfred Westphal offers an insight into Germany’s claim of what she termed as herrenlose territories of the South Pacific regions. This work is a collection of letters between the government of imperial Germany, governors of her protectorates and German “traders." In most cases, similarities abound here as to how the African colonizers presented imageries of the Pacific peoples.

Die Eingeboren sind eine freie Rasse Menschen, doch da die Natur ihnen alles reichlich liefert, was sie zum Leben bedürfen, so sind sie obgleich lebhaften Naturells, dennoch ungemein faul and träge, was arbeiten und das Sammeln von Produkten anbetrifft, und sie betrachten sich als weit über den Weißen stehend...Es existiert kein eigentlicher Beherrscher dieser Inseln...Die Folge hier von ist ein beständiger kleiner Krieg zwischen den Eingeboren, welcher...störend auf das Geschäft wirkt. (94)

Apart from their laziness and immaturity, their physical features were documented as having irregularities “von kleiner Gestalt... die Nase, stark gebogen...”(95). Westphal also relates events preceding Germany’s intrusion into Kiao-Chow, China, with references to a 1900 speech made by Kaiser Wilhelm II in Bremerhaven before sending German troops to China. The speech interweaves traditional beliefs about the desolate Chinese paganism, German orderliness, and military power.
...[I]hr könnt daraus ersehen, wohin eine Kultur kommt, die nicht auf dem Christentum aufgebaut ist...[j]ene heidnische Kultur... bewähren sollt ihr, einmal Eure alte deutsche Tüchtigkeit...[I]hr sollt auch rächen, so wird er erschlagen, Pardon wird nicht gegeben; Gefangene nicht gemacht (199).

Andreas Eckert’s (1994) Verdammt seien die Deutschen reveals the conflict that led to the execution of the Cameroonian King, Rudolf Manga Bell by the Germans in 1914. King Bell had complained about the inhumane treatment of his people. The work is primarily a justification of colonialism by a redefinition of the Rassenhygiene of the Africans. The hatred of Africans is reinforced by Regierungsärzte Kuhn and Noetel by stereotyping both character and hygiene with expressions like “ekeleregenden Gestank” of their food, “lautes Reden” and uncivilized manners. The article describes how the Germans attempted to keep the Africans who they called “Afterkultur” segregated from the white race. It also documents how the press in Germany viewed this issue. The Hamburger Nachrichten wrote about the “Negrophillie in Reichstag," and the Berliner Neuesten Nachrichten asked, “[E]s fragt sich überhaupt, ob die Neger ein Recht wie die deutschen Staatsbürger besitzen.”(Die Zeit, 20)

Hilde Thode-Arora (1989) discusses the visual representation of Africans as an industry based on horror of the Africans and their presumed sexual promiscuity in the “superior” European world. The work focuses on how the Africans were caged or mishandled. An example here is a spectator's observation during a winter exhibition in the Hamburg zoo:
Wie wir erfahren, waren sie fasziniert von den Schnee am Freitag, und vielleicht hat sie die Verunderung sie für einige Minuten warm gehalten...Stellen sie sich, wahrend des Thermometer an dem Gefrierpunkt in einer Grashütte schlafend vor, mit keinem wirksamen Kälteschutz als ein Hemd (99)

Convinced by scientific theories that Africans have organic deformities, hence, are sub-human, proponents of the “zoo” were not concerned about their health. What caught the attention of the visitors was the body of the eroticized African woman and man, standing half-naked, performing and gesticulating in what became a sex exhibition that allowed the European imagination to dwell on what was forbidden. The novelty was the tendency of the viewer to seek vicarious sexual sensation. The biological foundation of deformity as ascribed to the African body was used for sexual stimulation. Given this understanding, one may identify also a situation that does not contradict the “scientific” claims of hyperactive sexuality. These displays, therefore, Hilde Thode-Arora concludes, put both parties in a complex situation. Whereas the shows meant to display an African detached from sensitivity, common sense and intellectual attributes, the European viewers got a vicarious psycho-sexual feedback and the viewer’s personality and sensation was defined in terms of his interaction with the “primitives."

In postcolonial analyses, increasing nostalgia for the “primitive” features of the colonized has moved the interpretive framework from addressing colonialism and its political-cultural aftermath to an approach that fits into present European cultural ideology. Postcolonial theoreticians who look at Africa or former colonies contemporary relations to the core particularly emphasize this concern. Frantz Fanon (1985), Edward Said (1979, and Aimé Cesairé (1972) have been exceptions in this case.

Frantz Fanon undermines the argument that post-colonial analyses when theorized by western academia have more weight. In his Schwarze Haut, weiße Masken (1985), he focuses on the growing power of the post colonialist ideology in contemporary acculturation as the fundamental psychological construct that disorients the colonized “self." Taking language as basis, he argues that, language has larger implications on the consciousness of the colonized:

Sprechen heißt imstande sein, sich einer bestimmten Syntax zu bedienen, über die Morphologie dieser oder jener Sprache zu verfügen, vor allem aber, eine Kultur auf sich zu nemen, die Last einer Zivilisation zu tragen (14).

Fanon’s analysis of racial and social structures refers to the basic elements that define the situation of the African in simple terms. Under such circumstances, the African is separated psychologically from his physical form and alienated.

Given this alienation of the self, in The Wretched of the Earth (1968), Fanon proposed a solution on how to free oneself from this psychological oppression. He argued that the contemporary man, even in postcolonial situations, is dominated by the institution that “advises him by means of rifle butt and napalm not to budge” (38) and “disfiguring all that has to do with beauty or morality” (41). His freedom can be achieved justifiably only “by absolute violence” (37) or rejection of metropolitan intellectual notions of colonialism. Moving into this grand narrative of “decolonialization” (36) of colonial theories, Fanon demonstrates the reductive and distortive methods of many postcolonial theories.

In Orientalism (1979), Edward Said suggests that the new post-colonial writers are responding to theoretical arguments and political developments in academia. In trying to offer a picture of interconnectedness in the narratives and to mobilize popular support, the postcolonial writer, in Said’s view, tries to find a new road freed from the centralizing practices which, however, still undermine the “freed” colonized imagery by placing it in a relation which seemingly is democratic. Said writes:
...[T]he kind of language, though, and vision that I have been calling Orientalism which is the habit for dealing with questions, objects, qualities and regions deemed Oriental, will designate, name, point to, fix, what he is talking or thinking about with a word or phrase, which then is considered either to have acquired, or more simply to be, reality... (58-59).

What lies within this assertion is that postcolonial theory is fraught with ideological motivations whereby a particular mixture of post-structuralists and anti-colonial politics are molded together in a way that paradoxically results in strengthening the core or colonizer.

Osundare Niyi’s, How Post-Colonial is African Literature? (1994) argues that the revisiting of colonial Africa in contemporary works binds the new science/genre “post colonialism” to the former imperial center since it postulates that the “rereading and rewriting of the European historical and fictional records are a vital and inescapable task at the heart of the post-colonial enterprise.” (196)

Rosemarie K. Lester (1982) Trivialneger: Das Bild des Schwarzen in westdeutschen Illustrietenroman stresses the nostalgia in post colonialism by tracing the development of the African images in German novels from 1951-1977. Her study has the merit of opening the hidden wishes of German national identity “Exotischer ist erotischer”(2) and what she termed as being practiced due to ideological aims:

[D]ie Negereinheit[en] werden im Roman gegen die in der Nachkriegszeit vielen Deutschen besonders verhaßten polnisch-jüdischen DP’s eingesetzt; damit wird in der Tat eine diskriminierte Minderheit gegen eine andere ausgespielt.” (85)

She said a terminology such as “Neger” is used intentionally by Germanists like Uta Sadji who argues that she got the word “‘Neger’ durch die Dichter der négritude, insbesondere Aimé Césaire und Léopold Sédar Senghor;” hence, these people legitimise her usage (9). What are most evident of nostalgia are the occasional qualifications and asides to some past era that has escaped, and no matter how the present has advanced their yearning for a return to the past remains in the ego. What Lester provides is a cross-identity perspective with eloquent data that speaks of the polarities of Germans and Africans. The extent to which both groups are polarized is summarized in her argument:

In Wirklichkeit aber bedeutet für diese Gruppen die Gleichberechtigung der Schwarzen eine bedrohliche Konkurrenz auf dem Arbeitsmarkt und, aus soziopsychologischer Sicht, den Verlust der vielleicht einzigen sozial tieferstehenden Schicht, deren Existenz ihr kollektives Selbsbewußtsein heben könnte.” (15)

Clearly this postcolonial theory follows the pattern that seems to be common to many new fields of study which attract writers who cannot be content with former school of thoughts and imageries that help them identify and know themselves. Hence, they reframe images that, inter alia, stabilize core interests, whilst being of the core and protective of one’s own ideology. This statement makes it obvious that post-colonial literature can be paradoxical because it reflects and reacts against colonial literature, knowing that the past is anathema but also worth conserving.

German Colonial Discourse

As stated above earlier, scholars have recently questioned the fixation on socio-political, economic and materialist motives of colonialism by stretching its interpretive models to include socio-cultural aspects of colonialism. We noted that Edward Said, in Culture and Imperialism (1993), argued that literary works played decisive roles in mediating and defining differences in cultures. For Said, the colonial discourse of the West was largely devoted to constructing a literary tradition, subsequently perceived as canonical, which drew on parallel images that mattered to the Western imagination that obliterated the existence of non-Europeans. Three scholarly works within the field of German studies, which have systematically treated German colonialism within this literary framework, are Susan Zantop’s Colonial Fantasies (1997), Sara Friedrichsmeyer, Sara Lennox and Susanne Zantop’s The Imperialist Imagination (1998), and Russell Berman’s Enlightenment or Empire (1998). These studies discussed several dimensions of German colonialism to show that the German colonial framework was different from other empires, ultimately playing an important role in positing the notion of German colonialism in terms of imaginary representations of colonial identity and apologia for colonial rule in Africa.

Colonialism and Fantasies

In Colonial Fantasies (1997), Susanne Zantop discusses how pre-colonial German narratives contributed to Germany’s “latent colonialism,” (2) and shaped Germans’ fantasies of “otherness” and identity despite their lack of colonies (30). The lack led to chronic fantasizing, imagining, and paranoia about the “other” which the “armchair travelers” (36) turned into “real” experiences and knowledge about other cultures and the “self.” She defines this form of German colonialism as colonial fantasies. The narratives, according to Zantop, are cast “as children’s books or entertainment for adults, as narratives, poetry, or drama. They were inserted into anthropological, philosophical and political treatises... or as illustrative anecdotes” (2). This literature, Zantop continues, came to ignore the difficult circumstances in the colonies for a history of fantasies by which to shape German identity and “other.” Within this context, German colonialism proper, was replaced by “colonial fantasies” to develop “an imaginary national self freed from history and conventions – a self that proved to the world what ‘he’ could do” (Zantop, 7). The consequence of “fantasies” about foreign landscapes is serious because it evokes a predominantly male desire for the “sexualization of conquest.” When the German reader enters the fantasy world, he enters to exploit that space effectively in order to construct imaginative narratives of identity as a distinct entity.
With these categories as background, Zantop looks at the debates on the national character in Germany in which Herder, Kant and many others took part. The debates altered German consciousness on identity, masculinity and sexuality and produced a “constant tension with nightmares in which a savage, devouring ‘phallic’ femininity, in the form of impenetrable jungles... threatens to annihilate the innocent European colonist” (45). In a sense, the impact of the debate confused meanings of other cultures because the corruption of German identity was so deep-seated that nothing but acculturation of the other provided it with a sense of the self. As part of the literary fantasy, to make fundamental distinctions is to acculturate and assimilate the other and displace him into the superior culture. Zantop illuminates a similar integrating scene between a white male hero and his “savage” and how it illustrates politicized narratives of marginality. “The German Crusoe, a true self-made man, learns to achieve control over his mind [...] body [...] relying on his physical strength and ingenuity alone [...]” whereas Freitag is the “creature” or the “savage” (107). Thus, Robinson and Friday end up in Hamburg, and Columbus distinguishes himself as the fantasized god-like figure of the “newborn States and its children,” (197). Here, through fantasies, the reader sees his culture as the connector, comforting himself with a control of mind, which differentiates the role of the “races” as imagination. In this manner, Zantop shows that travel narratives, apart from disseminating colonial cultures and images in Germany, also helped shape German national identity.
The trope of colonial fantasies provided a useful framework for the ideological transformation of German thought, which in turn helped formed German cultural and national identity. This is the thesis of The Imperialist Imagination (1998) , an anthology of German colonial and postcolonial literature written by Sara Friedrichsmeyer, Sara Lennox and Susanne Zantop. The authors aim at filling “a gap in German cultural studies by promoting information about the German colonial experience and the ways in which German colonial fantasies affected the notion of Germanness and of German cultural and national identity” (6). They offer a complete contrast to the previous work by investigating the “continuities” and “pastness” of German empire, nationhood and power of the German society beyond the broadly accepted assertion of colonial experience. The continuities, they argue, were concepts German writers used to construct the philosophical foundations of German identity and colonist mind-set “before the desired object, the colonies, came within German’s reach” (19). This mind-set, they argue, prevents any historical scholarship from a postcolonial perspective from taking place in Germany (8). In such an illusionary world, colonial fantasies become a “kind of projection surface that allowed for the insertion of different, even conflicting desires and interests” to create sexualized images of strong states using their surplus energy to “generate daughter colonies that would remain part of the family” (24), while at the same time undertaking their civilizing mission. For Germans, the increasingly ambivalent relationship between fantasy and reality came to represent what German readers knew of themselves, and defined their relationship with nationhood.

In opposition to the theory of fantasizing stands a study on trans-acculturation by Russell Berman (1998). In Enlightenment or Empire, Berman examines European encounters based on the lives in colonies to which he adapts modes of language and culture for the purpose of change. Berman’s study is significant in many respects. It proposes the concept “of space, not race” and reflects on the theorization of post-colonialism within German studies (3). For Berman, the “space and the encounter with foreign cultures and society certainly has the potential to elicit qualitatively new experiences [...]”(5) and physically liberates them for modernization. Within Berman’s text, colonialism was part of a constructive paradigm that led to hybridization and trans-acculturation in terms of global relationships to unite Europe and the postcolonial and colonial world. Berman, therefore, has to recast the definition of colonialism. Thus, he interprets it as a “location where, through perpetual acts of cross-cultural contact, transgressive changes occur precisely despite the efforts of colonial regimes to separate and control” (5), and not a location of a Fanonian world where war-unto-death between different races and competing cultures exists. His narrow concept valorizes Homi Bhabha’s notion of cultural development and language as the underlying structures of representation and relations. Although Berman provides many clues behind his reasoning, his reference to Cook’s Pacific journey brings some expansion on this theory. He argues that the encounter was an intersection between enlightenment and colonialism, a site of hybridization of subjectivity where shifts in boundaries and the cartography of blank spaces took place; and, in essence, race has no objective place in colonialism. Berman concludes that colonialism was “not necessarily always confrontational” (66). He explains, “if Europe too is remapped by the process of imperialism, and if this remapping includes decentering - between West and East, centre and periphery - then anti-colonial accounts of a centred and monolithic Europe threatening the rest of the world are solely inadequate” (67). What speaks against Berman is his complication of the historical facts about the contacts between Africa, Asia, and the Americas. His view of acculturation is in part a reflection of post-modernist arguments based on common religious interpretations of the colonial environment. For Berman, colonialism is the promotion of the European aesthetic, culture and politics to improve the condition of non-European regions. At issue, as Foucault (1980) says, is the dissent of postmodernists who ignore the facts for “the sake of endless commentaries.”

It is unlikely that power and racism did not exist in the field of colonial discourse West (1982). West summarizes Foucault’s specification of the concept of “discursive field” and applies it to racism, while suggesting how it could be incorporated into a Marxist historiography. His argument streamlines racism’s applicability to the specific confines of colonialism, which “consists of a totality of ordered relations in terms of violence and repression, orderable and describable types,” and hence, is a significant feature of colonialism. To an extent, Zantop et al. perceive an evolving definition of colonialism that looks more into the psychological condition of the writers and readers. However, under such circumstances, they disallow what could prove useful in arriving at a German colonial experience base on participation in the material world. Though it must be stated that Zantop et al. acknowledge that there were many German settlements in South America in the nineteenth century, endorsing such emigration precluded any idea of a nation state. Berman, on the other hand, rejects the notions of race and exploitation, thus ignoring the fact that production of “space” is itself an ordering process and hence, a forceful civilizing process. Detailed and descriptive in their general theories of colonialism, some historians, quite earlier have noted that the understanding of “colonial” experiences lies beyond the pleasures of fantasies because one of the colonial objective was to utilize the colonized body for economic gains (Memmi 1957; Nkrumah 1963; Fanon 1968; Cesaire 1972; Rodney 1972).
In this review, a wide range of works, which address German colonial politics, and representation of Africa or the colonized has been examined.Since it publication, Lora Wildenthal’s German Women for Empire 1884- 1945 (2001) has incited some attention. Drawing on some fictions by Frieda von Bülow, mission society records, periodicals and memoirs mostly by women of the Frauenbund der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft, Wildenthal attempted to expose the various motives that led to the increase of German women in the colonies, and the construction of empire and Germaness in German colonies. Her goal was to provide the reader with a vision of the white woman’s attitude and fear about the African woman, and thereby expand on an issue, which do not find elaborated attention in the field of German Studies – German women and colonialism. She observes that the conventional investigation of German colonialism plays upon suggestions that Germany’s participation was “too late and too brief” (8) or is overshadowed by the strange fixation on the relation between German colonialism and holocaust, and subsequently ignoring other plausible factors that triggered typological variations of colonialism. That made less visible, in this particular case, the significance of German women or gender for the colonial process. Wildenthal develops this idea by relating to the Marxist idea “that a society’s level of advancement can be measured by the condition of its women” (1). To Wildenthal, this extended to the hierarchy of cultural comparison in which women became part of the civilizing mission. Wildenthal wants to answer the question why many German women, enthused by nationalistic venture and concerned about race, and specifically about race in the colonies, changed German colonialism from an exclusively male domain to include women. Wildenthal points out that German women colonialists were not only concerned about making a statement against race mixing between German men and a supposedly degenerated sexuality of women of the Pacific and Africa, but also “sought to be both symbols and agents of their society’s advancement,”(1) of “ “Germany’s national prestige,” (2-3), and “women’s freedom” (54). The black woman majority and white male minority in the colonial space, as she states, were an envious and irritating issue for white women in many nations in Europe. Stimulated by the “new imperialism” of the nineteenth century, many Europeans, men as well as women, indulged in universalizing “European-ness” or more specifically “reconstructing German colonial communities” (7) as a space where women could exercise authority. In order words, race was not exclusive of colonialist women. Rather, “colonialist women evoked race as a national collectivity prior to any voluntary one in order to avoid exclusion from full participation […] (10). Wildenthal identifies other areas which motivated German women for empire, such as economics or profit making, cultural and political power. By sexualizing the white woman, the black woman becomes desexualized and with that, a solution for Rassenreinheit was found (79). She concludes that “colonial racism, in all its intensions, manifestations and effects, was a project implemented by German women and German men in interaction with each other” for fear of a growing mixed-race population (202). For Wildenthal, nothing is more coherent than race as a trope of colonial power, a national spirit that elevates women on a symbolic level and gives them distinctive roles. The main political picture, therefore, was an apparent “focus on feminine essence” (175), race and “radical nationalist vision” (56-7) in the colonial space.

With the visibility of German women in the colonial space, there is a “democratic” enfranchisement of space in terms of gender. By participating in the appropriation of these extra-societal spaces, women helped to transplant their national domestic spaces into the colonies and to build-imagined identities of uncontaminated European bodies in contrast to the sexual relationships with colonized” which destabilize German authority. Wildenthal’s thesis has set the categories under which we can organize gendered spaces. As she states, “ the unmooring of German identity from German institutions also affected colonialists women’s conceptualization of race” (177) and right wing activities (176). What does seem clear is that, of these colonial sexual politics, the patriarchal mechanism from which the female colonialist seek her narrative, is also what calls attention to her role and status in the colonial environment. Martha Mamozai (1989) has approached German women in colonies from a similar if not powerful perspective to narrate accounts of the hierarchical ordering of race und gender in colonial politics. If Wildenthal’s study is favorably credited here, it is because she offers exciting interpretations of the political, emotional and gender issues in the context of violence against the local inhabitants, assimilation and the preservation of racial purity in the colonial environment as events unfold.

By drawing attention to ideas of race, inequality, and assimilation of the other, she offers us an insight into the cultural transformation-taking place in the face of increasingly European domination. More importantly, that the histories produced by those who possessed power in society, contributed significantly in establishing and explaining the positions whence the colonialist pursued his agenda.

Wildenthal’s work should suit academics interested in revisiting Germany’s colonial past, which is gradually becoming an anathema, especially due to the gradual rise of academic conservatism in the field of German Studies. In particular, Wildenthal’s study can shape in large part the way one looks into and understand the motives of German women and colonialism. There is one point that makes Wildenthal’s study in a limited sense, inadequate. Like many other scholars of German and history, she also ignored that particular important region of West Africa, especially, the territory formally known as the Gold Coast, where in the nineteenth century many German missionaries were sent for a “civilizing” mission. This geographical field needs investigation due to the archival materials available on these German missionaries and their practices.

The African world presented in this project was the other space or Lebensraum open for Germany’s penetration. Though the materials presented here are solely a revisitation of history, yet in delineating the subject matter, they open up various interdisciplinary perspectives that help in understanding German national identity (Zantop, 189). Indeed, by grounding the politics of racism and imperialism in the context of power, one cannot ignore the fact that these factors, historically and now, continue to determine or differentiate the African from the European.