Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

German

Major Professor

Maria Stehle

Committee Members

Stefanie Ohnesorg, Daniel H. Magilow

Abstract

Herman Sörgel devised a plan, beginning in 1927, to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for the whole of Europe. Atlantropa was his answer to the perceived threats that the European people faced from international competition, overpopulation, and lack of resources. The plan would have resulted in the lowering of the Mediterranean Sea and the ultimate creation of one continent comprised of the former Europe and Africa. Though the plan was never implemented, it poses a fascinating model through which historians may reconsider the time period between the end of the First and Second World Wars.

This thesis examines some historical socio-political movements through the lens of Sörgel’s megaproject. Original publications from Herman Sörgel himself as well as those of two notable Atlantropa scholars, Alexander Gall and Wolfgang Voigt, explain in great detail the technical and sociological aspects of the plan. Additionally, theories from Jeffrey Herf, Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi, and Dina Brandt aid in the understanding of the man who attempted to engineer Europe out of crisis. The following analysis reveals the difficulty in placing Herman Sörgel into any singular political or social movement in his time. Though he espoused some of the same rhetoric as that of the National Socialists and pan-European movements alike, he failed to conform to any particular group. The unwavering obsession with his project consumed all of Sörgel’s energies until his death in 1952. Though all-but-forgotten, the project offers an uncommon means by which to view a tumultuous time in Europe.