“Die Kommandogewalt hat geredet, der Reichstag hat zu schweigen.” How the ‘Hottentottenwahlen’ of 1907 shaped the relationship between parliament and military policy in Imperial Germany
AbstractTo contemporaries, General von Trotha’s exterminatory strategy against the Ovaherero (1904) could have been stopped earlier, if only the German public had wished for it. The present paper argues that the public’s failure to act does not necessarily imply that it did expressly condone the genocidal developments in the colony. It rather aims to show that in the public’s perception foreign and military policy were not meant to be subject to parliamentary supervision and control. Indeed, this self-imposed inactivity could entail most devastating consequences. The general approach taken by the German public towards war and extreme violence is analysed using the example of the so-called ‘Hottentottenwahlen’, i.e. the general elections of 1907.
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