Racialism on the Left: E. D. Morel and the "Black Horror on the Rhine"

TitleRacialism on the Left: E. D. Morel and the "Black Horror on the Rhine"
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1968
AuthorsReinders, Robert C.
JournalInternational Review of Social History
Date Published04/1968

On April 6, 1920 the French government, in reprisal for the entry of German troops into the demilitarized zone of the Ruhr, occupied Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Hanau, and Homburg. During the occupation French Moroccan soldiers fired on a German mob in Frankfurt and killed several. In covering the event the Daily Herald, alone among English newspapers, called special attention to the “race” of the French troops. In particular, an article by Edmund Dene Morel argued that France was "thrusting her black savages …into the heart of Germany.” Master-minding an effort to “ruin, enslave, degrade, dismember [and] reduce to the lowest depths of despair and humiliation a whole people,” according to Morel's article, was a “ruthless” and militaristic French government. If this article had been written by an American racialist and had appeared in a Klan journal it might have little intrinsic historical interest. But the Herald was the leading left-wing daily in Britain at the height of its power. In analyzing this and other writings about race of Morel's, especially his most popular pamphlet, "The Horror on the Rhine," this article explores racism within the British left and argues that the outsize focus of Morel and his compatriots on French African soldiers stemmed both from a feeling of paternalism toward Africa and from opposition to French foreign policy in general.

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