This chapter examines views of the 1918–19 Revolution during the transition from Cold War division to German reunification in the late 1980s. It also takes the reader through the 1990s, a decade dominated by debates on the Holocaust rather than the First World War, and into the early years of the twenty-first century, a time of transition. It demonstrates that parts of the intellectual baggage of the Cold War were already being jettisoned in the period before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, while other aspects took until 2009 or even later to cease casting a shadow over scholarly debates. Meanwhile, the peaceful revolutions in the GDR and across the Soviet bloc in 1989 also reshaped the way in which the ‘problem’ of revolution in German history – including in 1918–19 – was categorised, with less emphasis now placed on national narratives and frameworks. The chapter’s last section looks at what remains of other East German classical leftist interpretations from the mid-twentieth century, charting their continuing, albeit far from complete or irreversible, decline in the years since the end of the GDR.
This chapter explores how the German left from the early 1930s through to the late 1940s sought to incorporate interpretations of the 1918–19 Revolution into rival visions of a post-Nazi, anti-Fascist Germany. A vast array of German leftists found themselves scattered across Europe and America as a result of political persecution at home and the outbreak of the Second World War. However, only for a brief moment, in 1943–44, did anything like a joined-up narrative bringing together social democrat, Communist and dissident Marxist views begin to emerge. Ideological tensions had already returned by 1945–46, and grew more intense as a result of political developments in early postwar Germany and Berlin. The chapter ends with a discussion of how the centenary of the 1848 Revolution and the thirtieth anniversary of the 1918–19 revolution were marked on different sides of the East–West divide in 1948.
Chapter 1 examines the development of colonial administrative ideology in Nigeria and its ultimate application to the pilgrimage by the early 1920s. Initially, British colonial officials showed little interest in controlling the movement of subjects at all, let alone for something as complex as the pilgrimage. The nascent inklings of ‘indirect rule’ under Lord Lugard in northern Nigeria suggested that the less intrusion into the ‘traditional’ practices of colonial subjects the better, and nowhere was this considered more sacrosanct than in religious matters. However, by the late 1910s, attitudes were beginning to change, as colonial officials in both Nigeria and Sudan began to view the pilgrimage as in some ways a threat to the premises of indirect rule by weakening the control that indigenous political authorities had over their subjects, injecting anti-colonial and fanatical discourses, and threatening the security of colonial subjects through deprivation, disease, and even enslavement on their long voyages. By the early 1920s, it had become clear to many colonial officials that some form of regulation of the pilgrimage would be necessary if for no other reason than to mitigate the problems that the traditional practices posed for the new colonial political order.
The book concludes with a brief discussion of the politics of pilgrimage in post-independence Nigeria, where it has become ever more ensconced with government bureaucracy and intersected with ongoing crises regarding the relationship of religion and the state in a secular, multi-cultural society. Though the pilgrimage has grown significantly since the colonial era, allowing more Nigerians than ever before to travel to Mecca more safely and efficiently than ever, accusations of corruption, inefficiency, and mismanagement are common, and the international politics of the pilgrimage continue to have significant resonance. While the nationalisation of the pilgrimage has become deeply embedded in contemporary Nigerian discourse, the legacies of its colonisation and decolonisation over the last century continue to shape the contours of Nigerians’ engagement with the Hajj.
The conclusion begins with a critique of the way that the revolution was presented in the centenary commemorations in 2018–19. Much was obscured amidst the desire to package the revolution to suit presentist concerns with reductive ‘lessons’ for democracy. Overall, the way that the centenary was handled makes it more likely that 1918–19 will remain largely forgotten and unknown as a real historical event in real historical time. Nonetheless, the conclusion does go on to suggest three areas in which research might fruitfully develop over the next two decades; a recognition that cultural determinism can bring with it an exaggerated and at times ahistorical concentration on political fragmentation at the expense of elements of cohesion; a move towards capturing unscripted ways of seeing, hearing, feeling and living the political intensity of the revolution, and thus unleashing its diverse emancipatory potential; and finally, a focus on the way in which competing or overlapping ideas about popular sovereignty were medialised and communicated in the revolution’s immediate aftermath and in the period up to the inauguration of the new constitution on 11 August 1919.
Chapter 5 explores the logistical hurdles of effective Hajj management by focusing on a ubiquitous pejorative in Nigerian politics: corruption. The overland pilgrimage route had for a long time been associated with a range of dangers, but perhaps none was so widely condemned as the bilking of poor pilgrims by unscrupulous agents along the route. Referring to such extortion as ‘corruption’ is uncommon in the lexicon of the 1950s, as the term then was mostly confined to malfeasance by public officials, and the pilgrimage was not a public venture. However, it increasingly became a public endeavour, specifically because of the desire on the part of the nationalist Northern People’s Congress government in the Northern Region to regulate the business of the pilgrimage in the late 1950s. Ultimately, it became clear by the early 1960s that the most efficient way to minimise waste and corruption in pilgrimage logistics was for the government to take a central role in directing pilgrim traffic toward the airport and away from the long, crooked overland route.
Nadezhda’s marriage is falling apart – there is no intimacy between her and her husband Andrei. To make things worse, one evening she sees Andrei kissing his male friend. Convinced that Andrei is sick, and determined to fix their family life, Nadezhda sees the local psychiatrist, Yan Goland. Goland asks Nadezhda to bring her husband in for an appointment and then diagnoses Andrei with “homosexualism”. Andrei is facing a difficult choice: to start treatment or not. Fearing his wife’s threats to report him to the police, Andrei decides to give it a try.
External pressures related to the decolonisation of the British Empire were also forcing the Nigerian government to transform the pilgrimage process by the late 1950s. After Sudanese independence in 1954, the Nigerian Pilgrimage Scheme became increasingly untenable. At the same time, Saudi Arabia became more belligerent toward destitute West Africans residing in the Hijaz, repatriating thousands upon thousands in the years after the Suez Crisis. Historically, these repatriates would have been dropped off on the other side of the Red Sea, in Sudan. But this was no longer an acceptable option. The Nigerian government undertook a number of measures to advocate for its destitute pilgrims in Saudi Arabia in the late 1950s, including an arrangement to bring many back directly to Nigeria on return flights during the Hajj season. But ultimately, the only long-term solution was to prevent large numbers of poor Nigerians from becoming stranded in Sudan or Saudi Arabia at all. In 1962, the Nigerian government passed new pilgrimage regulations that, while they did not officially ban the overland pilgrimage, made it prohibitively expensive, roughly double the cost of travelling by air, which was clearly the preferred option by this point.
This book offers an up-to-date survey of historical writing on the German Revolution of 1918–19, focusing on debates during the Weimar, Nazi and Cold War periods, and on developments since German reunification in 1989–90. Its aim is twofold: to make a comprehensive case for seeing the revolution as a landmark event in twentieth-century German, European and world history, and to offer a multi-faceted explanation for its often peripheral place in standard accounts of the recent German past. A central argument is that the ‘cultural turn’ in historical studies from the late 1970s onwards, while shedding important new light on the gendered and spatial dimensions of the revolution, and the role of violence, has failed adequately to grasp its essential political and emancipatory character. Instead, the fragmented narratives that stem from the foregrounding of culture, identity and memory over material factors have merely reinforced the notion of a divided and failed revolution that – for different reasons – characterised pre-1945 and Cold War-era historiography. Public recognition of a handful of reductive ‘lessons’ from the revolution fails to compensate for the absence of real historical debate and sustained, contexualised understanding of how the past relates to the present. The book nonetheless sees some welcome signs of a return to the political in recent urban, transnational and global histories of the revolution, and ends with a plea for more work on the entanglements between the revolution and competing or overlapping ideas about popular sovereignty in the years immediately following the First World War.
Decolonising the Hajj details the transformation of the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) from Nigeria over the course of the twentieth century. What for centuries had been a long, perilous overland journey from which many never returned became a short, highly regulated airlift to and from Saudi Arabia by the early 1960s. The book argues that British colonial efforts to control the pilgrimage were minimalist in nature, largely centred on funnelling pilgrims toward agricultural labour in Sudan and repatriating destitute pilgrims from the Hijaz in ways that generally preserved the traditional overland pilgrimage. More significant transformations occurred in the context of decolonisation, when Nigerian nationalist politicians took over the internal mechanisms of the state at the same time that the European imperial order was unravelling globally. The outcome was a more proactive approach to pilgrimage management that slowly but surely directed the pilgrim traffic away from the overland routes and toward air travel as the most politically, economically, and diplomatically expedient way to conduct the Hajj in a post-colonial world of independent nation-states. In charting this trajectory in the specific context of Nigeria, the book demonstrates the importance of decolonisation as a transformational force in the history of the Hajj while simultaneously situating the Hajj as a valuable case study for examining transnational implications of global decolonisation.