Research Report 2007

Publications by writers and editors at Memorial University

Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador

By Dr. Gerhard P. Bassler

Book Cover: Vikings to U-Boats

The first German arrived in Newfoundland with Leif Eirikson's Viking expedition. By 1914 St. John's was home to a vibrant German community while a Moravian enclave thrived in Labrador. Contemporary Newfoundland, however, remembers its German heritage largely in terms of U-Boat captains and local spies. Dr. Gerhard Bassler reveals what was lost when almost all earlier memories of Germans in Newfoundland and Labrador vanished.

Vikings to U-Boats explores the colony's hidden multicultural history, examining both sides of the German-Newfoundland/Labrador experience. From first recorded contacts to the end of the Second World War, Dr. Bassler traces the lives of German-speaking fishermen, musicians, doctors, engineers, and entrepreneurs. He reconstructs the historical reality behind U-Boat and spy stories and analyzes the change in status of the colony's German-speaking people from neighbours to "enemy aliens." Vikings to U-Boats challenges the assumption that the history of Newfoundland and Labrador was shaped solely by English-speakers from the British Isles.

Portrait of Dr. Gerhard Bassler

Dr. Gerhard Bassler

Dr. Bassler is the author of numerous books, including Sanctuary Denied: Refugees from the Third Reich and Newfoundland Immigration Policy 1906-1949, and professor emeritus, history, at Memorial.

Dr. Bassler is the author of numerous books, including Sanctuary Denied: Refugees from the Third Reich and Newfoundland Immigration Policy 1906-1949, and professor emeritus, history, at Memorial.

Published by McGill-Queen's University Press, Vikings to U-Boats is available at the MUN Bookstore.