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Working paper

More than just tittles: a discussion concerning the germanization policy in early twentieth-century Prussia

Humanities. HUM. Basic Research Programme, 2013. No. WP BRP 39/HUM/2013.
This article analyzes a discussion involving members of the Prussian and the Imperial German cabinets in the early 20th century which concerned the protests of Prussia’s Polish-speaking citizens against the Germanization of their proper names’ spelling. The discussion reflected ministers’ varying approaches to the issue. For the purpose of this study, these approaches are categorized as ‘legal’, ‘political’ and ‘bureaucratic’ discourses, respectively. The author shows how these different sorts of reasoning led, each in its own way, to the final decision-making. Although the practice at issue concerned the spelling of a language that was not even German, it was about a very German problem of relationships between the nation-state and one of its ethnic minorities, a problem that was to dominate a whole epoch and lead to a number of global historical cataclysms.