The elimination of Germans from the British Empire at the end of the First World War
in Exiting war
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During the course of the nineteenth century, millions of Germans left their homeland to settle throughout the world. While most went towards the Americas, hundreds of thousands moved to Britain and its Empire, those with agricultural and working-class backgrounds as well as elites. By 1914, despite rising Germanophobia as the First World War approached, the migrants remained an integrated group. This chapter demonstrates how the development of a Germanophobic ideology, emanating from London but present throughout British possessions in an equally virulent manner, had a devastating impact upon the German communities in the aftermath of the First World War. The racist ideology meant that Germans faced a combination of draconian measures in the form of internment, property confiscation and deportation. The chapter focuses upon the last of these, demonstrating that, while expulsions took place throughout the war, especially against women, the ‘extirpation – root and branch and seed – of German control and influence from the British Empire’, as put forward by the London-based Germanophobic pressure group the British Empire Union, became imperial policy. It examines the marginalisation and elimination of Germans in the British Empire at the end of the First World War. This elimination became total in some cases (such as India) and partial in others (such as Great Britain). The chapter demonstrates how the plight of the Germans at the end of the First World War fits into the wider picture of minority persecution during the era of the First World War as empires collapsed.

Exiting war

The British Empire and the 1918–20 moment

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