The Test of Patriotism: Germany in the Perception of the Baltic Germans during the First World War
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Date of publication
20.06.2022
Public year
2022
DOI
10.31857/S013038640020240-2
The Test of Patriotism: Germany in the Perception of the Baltic Germans during the First World War
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The article examines the attitude of the Baltic Germans towards Germany during the Great War. With the outbreak of the war, the Baltic Germans were forced to define their position towards their ethnic homeland, which had gone into war with the Russian Empire. The Baltic Germans' perception of Germany is reflected in a wide variety of sources, resulting in diametrically opposite assessments. The aim of the article is to provide a comparative analysis of official documents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Council of Ministers, ego-sources, and applications for Russian citizenship from “enemy subjects”, to identify different attitudes towards Germany among the Baltic Germans, which were shaped by a variety of factors, including the anti-German activities of the Tsarist government, general imperial measures prompted by the war, and emotional assessment of what was happening. Previous studies have examined the views of the Baltic Germans mainly on the basis of Russian periodicals and the writings of nationalist publicists. This has left the complex process of searching for the boundary between loyalty to the Russian Empire and attitudes towards Germany, the country of their culture and mother tongue, among the Baltic Germans, outside the realm of research interest. This article aims to fill this gap. The study suggests that the patriotism of the Baltic Germans did not extend so far as to actively and publicly demonstrate rejection of their historic homeland. A considerable proportion of the Baltic Germans sought to strike an acceptable balance between their Russian citizenship and their German background, while attitudes towards Germany among them varied, depending on social background, degree of attachment to Russia and other factors.

About authors
Alexandra Bahturina
Head of the Department of Russian History of the Historical Faculty of the State Academic University of Humanities. Professor of the Department of History of State Institutions and Public Organizations of the Russian State University for the Humanities
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