The Elimination of Germans from the British Empire at the end of the First World War




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Manchester University Press


Book chapter

Peer reviewed



During the course of the nineteenth century millions of Germans left their homeland to settle throughout the world. While most went towards the Americas, hundreds of thousands moved to Britain and its Empire consisting of those with agricultural and working class backgrounds, as well as elites. By 1914, despite rising Germanophobia as the Great War approached, the migrants remained an integrated group. My article will demonstrate how the development of a Germanophobic ideology, emanating from London, but present throughout British possessions in an equally virulent manner, had a devastating impact upon the German communities. The racist ideology meant that Germans faced a combination of draconian measures in the form of internment, property confiscation and deportation. The paper will focus upon the last of these, demonstrating that, while expulsions took place throughout the War, especially against women, who generally escaped the gendered internment policy, the ‘extirpation – root and branch and seed - of German control and influence from the British Empire’, as put forward by the London based Germanophobic pressure group the British Empire Union, became imperial policy. My paper will focus upon the marginalization of the Germans during the Great War and their elimination at its conclusion, which became total in some cases (such as India) and partial in others (such as Great Britain). The article will demonstrate how the plight of the Germans at the end of the First world War fits into the wider picture of minority persecution during the era of the Great War as Empires collapsed.



Germans, British Empire, Elimination, First World War


Panayi, P. (2022) The Elimination of Germans from the British Empire at the end of the First World War. In: Romain Fathi, Margaret Hutchison, Andrekos Varnava and Michael Walsh, eds, Exiting War: The British Empire and the 1918-1920 Moment (Manchester: Manchester University Press), pp. 57-77.


Research Institute

Institute of History