Pan-Germanism, German nationalist doctrine aiming at the union of all German-speaking peoples under German rule. Pan-Germanists considered that not only the German groups in neighboring countries, such as Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Switzerland, and Alsace, but even distant German-speaking groups such as Volga Germans, Baltic Germans, Transylvanian Germans, and German-Americans were linked by a blood tie to their fatherland. The doctrine originated in the late 19th cent. as an instrument of German imperialistic expansion. In 1893 the Alldeutscher Verbund (Pan-German League) was founded. The Pan-Germans became particularly vocal after Germany's defeat in World War I had deprived it of some border territories and its colonies. National Socialism appropriated Pan-Germanism; by the annexation of Austria and of German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and by German conquests in Europe during World War II, Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded for a time in making the Pan-German program a reality.
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