Anti-German sentiment

Destroy this mad bruteUnited States propaganda (Harry R. Hopps; 1917). This poster was released in 1917 by Harry Ryle Hopps, portraying Germany as a gorilla invading the United States having conquered Europe.[1]
Anti-German cartoon from Australia, Norman Lindsay, between 1914 and 1918
French postcard from the First World War era showing a caricature of emperor Wilhelm II attempting to devour the world; this French version was based on an Italian cartoon
British Anti-German poster, circa 1919, calling for boycott of German goods and depicting German businesspeople selling their products in Britain as "the other face" of German soldiers who committed atrocities during the 1914–1918 (British Empire Union poster)

Anti-German sentiment (also known as Germanophobia or Teutophobia) is defined as an opposition to or fear of Germany, its inhabitants, its culture and the German language.[2] Its opposite is Germanophilia. The sentiment largely began with the mid-19th century unification of Germany, which made the new nation a rival to the Great Powers of Europe on economic, cultural, geopolitical and military grounds.

In the 20th century, the role of Germans as the primary perpetrators of the Holocaust and Germany's role in starting two world wars also fed anti-German sentiment amongst Germany's enemy countries and the citizens of those countries.

19th century


In the 1860s Russia experienced an outbreak of Germanophobia, mainly restricted to a small group of writers in St. Petersburg who had united around a right-wing newspaper. It began in 1864 with the publication of an article by a writer (using the pseudonym "Shedoferotti") who proposed that Poland be given autonomy and that the privileges of the German barons in the Baltic governorates and Finland be preserved. Mikhail Katkov published a harsh criticism of the article in the Moscow News, which in turn caused a flood of angry articles in which Russian writers expressed their irritation with Europeans, some of which featured direct attacks on Germans.[3]

The following year, 1865, the 100th anniversary of the death of Mikhail Lomonosov was marked throughout the Russian empire. Articles were published mentioning the difficulties Lomonosov had encountered from the foreign members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, most of whom had been of German descent. The authors then criticized contemporary German scholars for their neglect of the Russian language and for printing articles in foreign languages while receiving funds from the Russian people. It was further suggested by some writers that Russian citizens of German origin who did not speak Russian and follow the Orthodox faith should be considered foreigners. It was also proposed that people of German descent be forbidden from holding diplomatic posts as they might not have "solidarity with respect to Russia".

Despite the press campaign against Germans, Germanophobic feelings did not develop in Russia to any widespread extent, and died out, due to the Imperial family's German roots and the presence of many German names in the Russian political elite.[4]

Great Britain

Negative comments about Germany had begun to appear in Britain in the 1870s, following the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870–71.[5] Criticisms were expressed in the press and in the birth of the invasion novel (e.g. The Battle of Dorking), many of which focused on the idea that Britain might be Germany's next victim.[6] These fears were also fueled by the new mass press, which had a huge impact on public opinion. Lord Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliff, who used his Newspapers like "Daily Mail" or "The Times" to rush against Germany, was particularly prominent in this role and influenced the classes and the masses like no one else against Germany.

In 1887, the label Made in Germany was introduced, to get British buyers to adhere to the concept of "buying British". After suffering slight losses, German manufacturers soon found the label to be of good use. But it shows another reason for British sentiments against Germany. The British Empire was one of the leading economic powers in the world and didn‘t want to lose its place to Germany. With increasing economic power of the German Empire the Germans were perceived as competitors more and more.

In the 1890s there was widespread hostility towards foreigners in Britain, mainly directed against eastern European Jews but also including Germans. Joseph Bannister believed that German residents in Britain were mostly "gambling-house keepers, hotel-porters, barbers, 'bullies', runaway conscripts, bath-attendants, street musicians, criminals, bakers, socialists, cheap clerks, etc". Interviewees for the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration believed that Germans were involved in prostitution and burglary, and many people also viewed Germans working in Britain as threatening the livelihood of Britons by being willing to work for longer hours.[7]

Anti-German hostility deepened since early 1896 after the Kruger telegram of Kaiser Wilhelm II, in which he congratulated President Kruger of the Transvaal on resisting the British Jameson Raid. Attacks on Germans in London were reported in the German press at the time but do not appear to have actually occurred. The Saturday Review (London) suggested "be ready to fight Germany, as Germania delenda est" ("Germany is to be destroyed", a reference to the coda against the Carthaginians adopted by Cato the Elder's speeches in the second Roman Republic). The Kaiser's reputation was further degraded by his angry tirade and the Daily Telegraph Affair.[8]

United States

In the 19th century the mass influx of German immigrants which made them the largest group of Americans by ancestry today, resulted in nativist reactionary movements not unlike those of the contemporary Western world.[9] These would eventually culminate in 1844 with the establishment of the American Party, which had an openly xenophobic stance. One of many incidents described in a 19th century account included the blocking of a funeral procession in New York by a group who proceeded to hurl insults at the pallbearers. Incidents such as these led to more meetings of Germans who would eventually establish fraternal groups such as the Sons of Hermann in 1840, having been founded as a means to "improve and foster German customs and the spread of benevolence among Germans in the United States".[10]