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Germanic expansion until 568 (Langobards)

Pan-Germanicism or Pan-Germanism (German: Pangermanismus or Alldeutsche Bewegung) is a pan-nationalist political idea which aims for unity of all the Germanic-speaking peoples of Europe into a German nation-state known as Großdeutschland (Greater Germany) or into a Germanic influenced or dominated European Federation.

The movement was especially influential during nineteenth and early twentieth century, seeking to unify the many German successor states to the Holy Roman Empire, partly succeeding with the creation of the German Empire in 1871. After 1918 Pan-Germanism became largely marginalised, although supported by the National Socialists. Politically correct descriptions may describe it as synonymous with Lebensraum views, despite this being a different concept that is often be misrepresented. After the defeat of National Socialist Germany, the movement was considered a political taboo, despite, for example, Israel and the World Jewish Congress, claiming to represent all Jews and supporting a Jewish nation state only for Jews, are not considered politically incorrect.


Pan-Germanism hit its peak during the early 20th century, especially during the National Socialist period (1933-1945) when the pan-German National Socialists with great approval from Germans living within the 1871 nation-state Reich borders and Germans born outside of the Reich borders. The first steps towards this were the accession of Austria in 1938 (Anschluss) and the liberation of the Sudetenland (an area of the former Czechoslovakia that was inhabited by people known as the "Sudeten Germans").


Pan-Germanism's origins began in the early 1800s following the Napoleonic Wars. The wars launched a massive new movement that was born in France itself during the French Revolution, Nationalism. Nationalism during the 1800s threatened the old aristocratic regimes. Many ethnic groups of Central and Eastern Europe had been divided for centuries, ruled over by the old Monarchies of the Romanovs and the Habsburgs. Germans, for the most part, had been a loose and disunited people since the Reformation when the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation was shattered into a patchwork of states. The new German nationalists, mostly young reformers such as Johann Tillmann of East Prussia, sought to unite all the German-speaking people and ethnic Germans (Volksdeutsche).

Prussia, Austria and Nationalism

By the 1860s, Prussia and the Austrian Empire were the two most powerful nations dominated by German-speaking elites. Both sought to expand their influence and territory. The Austrian Empire was a multi-ethnic state where Germans didn't have an absolute numerical majority; the creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one result of the growing nationalism of other ethnic groups. Prussia under Otto von Bismarck would ride on the coat-tails of nationalism to unite all of modern-day Germany. The German Empire ("Second Reich") was created in 1871 following the proclamation of Wilhelm I as head of a union of German-speaking states. German-speakers living outside the new Empire preferred living under its rule or in an ethnically homogeneous environment, but this wish clashed with the opposing wishes of other ethnicities. Regions like Austria and Bohemia witnessed nationalistic controversies for decades.

Within the Austrian-Hungarian Empire the vast majority of Austrians still considered themselves as Germans and wanted Austria to become part of Germany, immediately after the end of World War I the official name of Austria in 1918 was "The Republic of German-Austria" which was the rump state of all the German-speaking Austrians after the dissolving Austrian-Hungarian Empire and declared that the rump state "German-Austria is a democratic republic" and "German-Austria is a component of the German Republic" with 99% of the inhabited Austrian Germans wanting unification with Germany, this was forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles agreements and German-Austria was renamed to just "Austria" and the First Austrian Republic emerged in 1919.

Interwar Period

Following the defeat in World War I, influence of German-speaking elites over Central and Eastern Europe was greatly limited. At the treaty of Versailles Germany was substantially reduced in size. Volga Germans living in the Soviet Union were interned in gulags or forcibly relocated during the Great Patriotic War. The Austrian Germans in the Austrian Republic were still denied union with Germany, in 1934 when the Austrofascism period of Austria came into power the leader Engelbert Dollfuss said the Austrians were the "better Germans" and said that Austria was the second German state but the "better German state" but wanted Austria to remain an independent state from Germany but struggled with this as native Austrian-born Adolf Hitler set Kurt Schuschnigg for an agreement with the agree of a union, Schuschnigg agreed to the deal and Hitler a week later made a speech in which he said "The German Reich is no longer willing to tolerate the suppression of ten million Germans across its borders." This was clearly directed to Austria and the Sudetenland. Hitler was then a month later able to annex Austria with the Anschluss in 1938, the referendum showed 99.73 % Austrian Germans were in favor of union. Immediately after Austria ceased to exist as an independent state it was renamed in 1938 as the "Ostmark" (1938-1939 still as the "Land Austria") until 1942 when it was again renamed and called "Alpen-Donau-Reichsgaue".

Austrian identity today

In Austria, patriotic movements still clings to Pan-Germanism. During most of the Second Republic, this part was represented mostly by the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), founded in 1955 and led by the internationally-known populist politician Jörg Haider from 19862000.

The party ranks of the FPÖ are largely made up of members of Pan-German Studentenverbindungen (de) with an old Pan-German wing. Even though, Jörg Haider attempted to refashion the party more into chauvinistic Austrian patriotism. Especially, instead of the usual definition of "Austrian" to refer to all Austrian citizens, independent of their mother-tongue, he fostered the historically unfounded definition of "Austrian" referring only to Austrians of German descent. Likewise, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) party created by Haider in April 2005 does not promote, but is nostalgic towards Pan-Germanism.

Since the end of World War II, and with the growth of newer generations, the self-image of Austrians has changed considerably. After the War, most still did not have any confidence in an independent Austria. With the passing of time and the consolidation of the state and the passing of new generations this attitude has changed to a more independent viewpoint. This change in attitude has been reflected in the way Austrian history is viewed. The rule of the Babenberg and Habsburg are seen as times from which the country and its people can forge and build their identity. Nowadays, the overwhelming of Austrians are quite happy to enjoy an independent "Austrian" identity, although schools still teach their students about their grand German history.

See also

Further reading

  • Pan-Germanism by Professor Roland G. Usher, PhD., London, 1914. (A critical book).

External links