„Travelling the same painful road“? Irisch-südafrikanische Unabhängigkeitsbestrebungen, ihre Verflechtungen und ihr Beitrag zur Transformation des Empires, 1899–1949

Diese Arbeit untersucht, inwiefern Analogien zwischen den beiden Dominions Irland und Südafrika bestanden und welche Erwartungen und Auswirkungen sich hieraus für die jeweiligen nationalistischen Bewegungen sowie für das British Empire ergaben. Thematisiert werden die irisch-südafrikanischen Para...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Fortenbacher-Nagel, Katja
Contributors: Stuchtey, Benedikt (Prof. Dr.) (Thesis advisor)
Format: Doctoral Thesis
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2017
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This paper examines the extent to which analogies existed between the two dominions Ireland and South Africa, and what expectations and implications these had for the respective nationalist movements and for the British Empire. The thesis focuses on the Irish-South African parallels with regard to language and religion, their constitutional position within the British Empire, their (partially) interrelated nationalist movements and their experience of violence. The analysis of private correspondences, parliamentary debates, speeches and newspapers reveals that these categories have been frequently used contemporaneously to prove apparent similarities with each other or to justify the right to independence. Furthermore, it is examined which protagonists pointed to these parallels, formed and spread them and why they did so. The fact that both Ireland and South Africa were at times regarded as the “troublemakers” of the British Empire and thus endangered the Empire’s stability explains why British media also made comparisons. They had a particular interest in the fact that the Irish independence struggles of the 1920s did not serve as a role model for South Africa, now largely cooperating. By discussing the entanglements between the two countries and the resulting expectations and consequences, a contribution will be made to the analysis of the Irish- South African relationship and to the history of the British Empire resp. the Commonwealth. The extended evaluation of South African newspapers in English and Afrikaans complements the political sources and allows to include the attitude of the general public. Due to these sources this paper comes in places to opposite results than the few essays previously published on this topic. Around 1900, many Irish people identified with the Boers who strived for independence. They transferred the fate of the Afrikaners to their own, which gave the Irish independence movement new impetus. Because of the supposed similarities the Irish government sent „special envoys“ to South Africa to spread „the truth about Ireland“ and to counteract British propaganda. However, the analysis of the letters to the editor in South-African newspapers as well as the archived correspondences led to the conclusion that only individuals declared themselves in favour of Irish independence. South Africa participated in Irish independence efforts mainly at an official political level, for instance through Smuts’ mediation attempts or through Hertzog’s preliminary work on the Balfour Declaration resp. the Statute of Westminster. It was not until the 1930s that Boer nationalists referred to Ireland as a role model with regard to the reunification. Thereby they created the impression that South African sympathy and statements of support were already widespread and visible during the intense 1920s. However, the source analysis leads to an opposite conclusion. The analogies between Ireland and South Africa were construed over a period of around 40 years both by protagonists of the two countries as well as by Great Britain and instrumentalised for various purposes. Whereas the Irish protagonists hoped to provoke South African support for their cause in the early 1920s, the criticism of an unreflected parallelisation increased over time. In the British dominated South African press complicated facts were represented in a simplified way by the reference to alleged parallels. In this way, readers without background knowledge were strongly influenced by a few keywords in their opinion formation. It can be said that South Africa was an important factor in the Irish nationalist movement, even though the South African commitment to Irish independence was mainly on a political level, always falling short of Irish expectations. The South African population generally took little part in the events in Ireland, including the very heterogeneous Irish diaspora as shown. The Irish conviction of having found a reliable supporter in South Africa due to its similar history was therefore based more on wishful thinking than on facts. Irish and South African politicians were equally convinced that they have changed the Empire decisively. Hertzog attributed this to his collaboration on the Balfour Declaration, while in Ireland the Anglo-Irish Treaty was widely seen as the Irish contribution to the transformation of the Empire from a highly hierarchical system to a commonwealth of equal members. This transformation was a process driven by many events. The result of this paper is that Ireland and South Africa have played a key role within this process due to their dominion status, their population structure and their relationship to Britain.