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Chosen NationMennonites and Germany in a Global Era$
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Benjamin W. Goossen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174280

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174280.001.0001

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Becoming German

Becoming German

The Geography of Collectivism

(p.18) Chapter 1 Becoming German
Chosen Nation

Benjamin W. Goossen

Princeton University Press

This chapter illustrates how German nationalist Mennonites, such as Hinrich van der Smissen, portrayed the growing association between their religion and their nationality as natural and almost inevitable. However, this process was in fact contingent and highly contested. As viewed from the beginning or even the middle of the nineteenth century, the development of a specifically German–Mennonite nexus would have seemed just one of many possible outcomes, and in later years, observers continued to find it as surprising as it was new. Despite the grandiose terms in which these nationalists touted the emergence of a German Mennonite “imagined community,” this idea always held more power for a few dedicated activists than it did for the majority of its alleged members.

Keywords:   Mennonites, German nationalists, Hinrich van der Smissen, religion, nationality, German Mennonite community

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