Locating Prejudice: The Geography of Jew-Hatred in Germany, 1893-1933

George Vascik, Miami University

Before the Second World War, northwest Germany was one of the most socially and economically diverse regions in the country. Its largely protestant population was divided between Lutherans and Calvinists, leavened by admixtures of Mennonites, Catholics and Jews. The topography and soil of the region varied from the most fertile land in Germany to impassible and unfarmable moors. Each of these landscape types was home to different village patterns, forms of settlement and agricultural exploitation. Most noteworthy perhaps, the region was known as one of the most liberal places in Germany, constantly sending left-liberal and right-liberal deputies to the national and state parliaments. By 1932, it was one of the most fervently Nazi regions in the country. How did this come about and what factors influenced the acceptance of Nazism? I explore the transformation of the Northwest from liberal to Nazi in my just-published monograph, Antisemitism and Peasant Politics in Northwest Germany, and propose a new thesis on the spread of racist sentiment. The book uses election, census and qualitative data collected from 52 archives and libraries in Germany, Israel and the United States. I locate and analyze this data in a specially constructed GIS that displays the 582 discrete polling places for 752 cities, villages and hamlets. Using my spatial and statistical data, I am able to test theories on the origin and triumph of political Antisemitism – including theses recently put forward by Wolfgang Laipach for the Southwest (another traditionally liberal bastion) and Stephanie Fischer (regarding Jewish-Gentile relations in the Palatinate) – and present my own analysis.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 88. Segregation and Inequality