German History Intersections is a source-based digital project that examines three broad topics – migration, knowledge and education, and Germanness – from 1500 to the present. By charting these topics across centuries, the project offers an alternative to traditional histories that focus on discrete historical periods.
This caricature shows the European states after the liberation struggles of 1848/49 were suppressed—a situation comparable to the one in present-day Syria. The continental states, personified as big men, literally sweep out the little people. The states reject the notion of civil rights; state and population are not one and the same. The Habsburg monarchy, which oppressed its non-German-speaking subjects, is already portrayed as being harassed by various “nationalities,” officially termed “minorities”—who are resisting just as the Kurds and others are doing today. England is portrayed here as an exception. Queen Victoria, the only woman in the image, is seated. She is not active. No one seems to leave the core of her empire. Yet, English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish families emigrated during this period—famine drove migration from Ireland just as it does in drought-stricken regions today. The imperial state, for its part, dispatched soldiers and administrators into an imperial diaspora, setting in motion—literally—forced migrations within the colonies.
Dirk Hoerder, Arizona State University & University of Bremen, member of the “Migration” working group