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The Impossible Border: Germany and the East, 1914-1922 (Hardback)
  • The Impossible Border: Germany and the East, 1914-1922 (Hardback)
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The Impossible Border: Germany and the East, 1914-1922 (Hardback)

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£32.00
Hardback 248 Pages / Published: 27/09/2010
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Between 1914 and 1922, millions of Europeans left their homes as a result of war, postwar settlements, and revolution. After 1918, the immense movement of people across Germany's eastern border posed a sharp challenge to the new Weimar Republic. Ethnic Germans flooded over the border from the new Polish state, Russian emigres poured into the German capital, and East European Jews sought protection in Germany from the upheaval in their homelands. Nor was the movement in one direction only: German Freikorps sought to found a soldiers' colony in Latvia, and a group of German socialists planned to settle in a Soviet factory town.

In The Impossible Border, Annemarie H. Sammartino explores these waves of migration and their consequences for Germany. Migration became a flashpoint for such controversies as the relative importance of ethnic and cultural belonging, the interaction of nationalism and political ideologies, and whether or not Germany could serve as a place of refuge for those seeking asylum. Sammartino shows the significance of migration for understanding the difficulties confronting the Weimar Republic and the growing appeal of political extremism.

Sammartino demonstrates that the moderation of the state in confronting migration was not merely by default, but also by design. However, the ability of a republican nation-state to control its borders became a barometer for its overall success or failure. Meanwhile, debates about migration were a forum for political extremists to develop increasingly radical understandings of the relationship between the state, its citizens, and its frontiers. The widespread conviction that the democratic republic could not control its "impossible" Eastern borders fostered the ideologies of those on the radical right who sought to resolve the issue by force and for all time.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801448638
Number of pages: 248
Weight: 539 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"In this excellent book, Annemarie H. Sammartino offers a lively transnational investigation of how a shifting eastern border and mass migration contributed to a 'crisis of sovereignty' in Germany during and immediately after the First World War.... She succeeds brilliantly not only in showing how Weimar was weakened by its inability to control its eastern border or achieve ideological coherence in its conception of people, state and territory, but also in explaining how for the political right-wing, the deceptively simple criterion of race and longing for a utopian east together led to an abandonment of territorial frontiers and the adoption of a new, ultimately destructive national project based on boundaries of blood."

-- Alexander Watson * German History *

"Sammartino's title hardly does justice to the scope of her short but inspiring, well-written, well-researched, and thought-provoking work. As she explains, borders define differences determined by various mixtures of history, culture, and geography. Sammartino tests Hannah Arendt's theory of totalitarianism as a transnational form of analysis through the lens of the fluidity of borders throughout eastern Europe during and after WWI. Where context defines borders, German victory in the East inspired hope in an expanded German state, whereas defeat redefined the East as a final frontier to escape the ignominy of Germany's postwar collapse.... Summing up: Highly recommended."

* Choice *

"The Impossible Border is an excellent book. Annemarie H. Sammartino dramatically reveals the impact on the precarious state of Weimar Germany of mass migration in the aftermath of total war."

-- Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Lindsay Young Professor and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society, University of Tennessee, author of War Land on the Eastern Front and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present

"In The Impossible Border, Annemarie H. Sammartino offers an important and fascinating study of the history of migration across Weimar Germany's eastern border. In so doing, she addresses a number of key aspects of the history of Weimar Germany: settlement policy, emigration and immigration, how Jews and attitudes toward Jews were affected by border crossings, and the ways in which Germans imagined their eastern neighbors."

-- Richard Bessel, University of York, author of Germany after the First World War and Germany 1945: From War to Peace

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