German prof. talks on race, militarism

For the Daily
Published March 22, 2001

Members of the history department gathered yesterday in Tisch Hall for a lecture on German colonialism and race relations delivered by Prof. Pascal Grosse of Humbolt University in Berlin.

Grosse"s lecture, titled "The Militarization of "Race" and the Racialization of the Military: The German Experience," was sponsored by the history department and allowed students and faculty to learn about German colonial politics and the racial order of the military between 1910 and 1925.

Focusing on the racial sentiment of the German military regarding the military makeup of other European nations pre-World War I, Grosse said, "Germans believed themselves to be the only true defenders of the white race." He went on to explain this in the context of his studies of colonial migration from Africa to Germany in the late 19th century.

Grosse geared his discussion toward three main topics: the reaction of Germans to the Allied use of colonial soldiers, the policies within German prisoner of war camps and the relation between the occupation of the Rhineland and post-war politics of Germany.

He explained that the Black Threat, the use of black colonial soldiers from Africa, and the way in which the colonial soldiers were treated, were symbols of the German brutality in the coming war.

"Non-whites were frowned upon," Grosse said.

Grosse actively engaged the audience in discussion of the Allied European policies versus German policies. He discussed the ongoing conflicts of defining the term "race." The questions posed to Grosse by the audience, consisting mostly of graduate students and professors, reflected their obvious interest in the material presented.

"German warfare has always been an avid interest of mine. When I heard the topic that Professor Grosse was speaking on from a friend, I was really interested in hearing a German perspective," Engineering sophomore Eric Mattson said.

Grosse, who trained in history and medicine at the University in Berlin, currently is continuing his medical studies at the Institute of Neurology in London.