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Nationalism And Racism In The Late 19th And 20th Century

1247 words - 5 pages

In the late 19th century, with the squelching of the revolutions of 1848, many Europeans still desired reforms. In this desire, the longing for unification began to gain ground. As the probability of unification in places, such as, Germany and Italy began to intensify, Europeans with liberal views quickly began to entertain a nationalistic way of thinking. Many leaders of this school of thought were supporters of, British statesman, Benjamin Disraeli. Disraeli gave a famous speech at the Crystal Palace in London, in 1872. In his speech he challenged Europeans to choose their paths. The two paths were to either advance global Imperial expansion or embrace insignificance in world affairs (Perry 151). This aroused the spirit of loyalty in many European citizens and inspired many speeches and literature in allegiance. These loyalists included Hermann Ahlwardt and Karl Pearson in “The Semitic vs. the Teutonic Race” and “National Life from the Standpoint of Science,” respectively. The beginnings of Nationalistic extremism threatened to destroy the peaceful ideals that had come about with the Enlightenment. European Nationalists combined the ideas of Social Darwinism with extreme Nationalism and soon became wrought with intolerance and irrationality.
In the late 19th century, Jews had legal equality in most places; however, having already endured anti-Semitism for hundreds of years, Jews began to see a rise in the persecution of their people. Jews had suffered pogrom, unfair imposes and were denied fair offices throughout Europe. Racists said that Jews were different, thereby inferior, physically, intellectually and spiritually (Perry 146). Hermann Ahlwardt, a member of the Reichstag, had strong views against the Jews and offered them in a speech, “The Semitic vs. the Teutonic Race.” “…the Jews as a whole must be considered harmful, for the racial traits of this people are of a kind that in the long run do not agree with the racial traits of the Teutons.” The Teutons were, what the Germans claimed, an ideal people whose men were great warriors that once defeated a Roman army (Perry 147).
Ahlwardt’s intolerable attitude towards the Jews was racist; however, it was his intent to unify Germany into a stronger nation, thereby nationalistic at its core. His misguided approach attempted to convince the people of Germany that not only were Jews inferior and would only bring down the nation, but that they would never be Germans. He offered that the people of Poland, Russia, France and Denmark, who immigrated to Germany, only needed a few generations to assimilate comfortably into Germany and therefore were a welcome race, despite having strange sounding names (Perry 147). “We Teutons are rooted in the cultural soil of labor…The Jews do not believe in the culture of labor, they do not want to create values themselves, but want to appropriate, without working, the values which others have created; that is the cardinal difference that guides...

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