German colonial empire

German colonial empire

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The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states
Kleinstaaterei
is a German word, mainly used for the political situation in Germany and neighbouring regions during the Holy Roman Empire and during the German Confederation...

 had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884. Although most of Germany's Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

n and Pacific colonies were occupied by the Empire's enemies in the first weeks of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the German colonial empire officially ended with the effective date of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 on 10 January 1920 after its defeat in the war.

German unification



Until unification
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

, the German states had not been able to concentrate on the development of a navy, and this essentially had precluded German participation in earlier imperialist
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 scrambles for remote colonial
Colony
In politics and history, a colony is a territory under the immediate political control of a state. For colonies in antiquity, city-states would often found their own colonies. Some colonies were historically countries, while others were territories without definite statehood from their inception....

 territory — their so-called "place in the sun." Germany was destined to play catch-up. The German states prior to 1870 had retained separate political structures and goals, and German foreign policy up to and including the age of Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 concentrated on resolving the "German question" in Europe and securing German interests on the continent.

On the other hand, Germans had traditions of foreign sea-borne trade dating back to the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

; a tradition existed of German emigration (eastward in the direction of Russia
History of Germans in Russia and the Soviet Union
The German minority in Russia and the Soviet Union was created from several sources and in several waves. The 1914 census puts the number of Germans living in Russian Empire at 2,416,290. In 1989, the German population of the Soviet Union was roughly 2 million. In the 2002 Russian census, 597,212...

 and Transylvania
Transylvanian Saxons
The Transylvanian Saxons are a people of German ethnicity who settled in Transylvania from the 12th century onwards.The colonization of Transylvania by Germans was begun by King Géza II of Hungary . For decades, the main task of the German settlers was to defend the southeastern border of the...

 and westward to the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

); and North German merchants and missionaries showed interest in overseas engagements. Above all the Hanseatic republics of Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 and Bremen
Bremen
The City Municipality of Bremen is a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany. A commercial and industrial city with a major port on the river Weser, Bremen is part of the Bremen-Oldenburg metropolitan area . Bremen is the second most populous city in North Germany and tenth in Germany.Bremen is...

 sent traders across the globe. These trading houses conducted themselves as successful Privatkolonisatoren [independent colonizers] and concluded treaties and land purchases in Africa and the Pacific with chiefs or other tribal leaders. These early agreements with local entities, however, later formed the basis for annexation treaties, diplomatic support and military protection by the German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

.

Scramble for colonies



Many Germans in the late 19th century viewed colonial acquisitions as a true indication of having achieved nationhood. Public opinion eventually arrived at an understanding that prestigious African and Pacific colonies went hand-in-hand with dreams of a High Seas Fleet
High Seas Fleet
The High Seas Fleet was the battle fleet of the German Empire and saw action during World War I. The formation was created in February 1907, when the Home Fleet was renamed as the High Seas Fleet. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz was the architect of the fleet; he envisioned a force powerful enough to...

. Both aspirations would become reality, nurtured by a press replete with Kolonialfreunde [supporters of colonial acquisitions] and by a myriad of geographical associations and colonial societies. Bismarck and many deputies in the Reichstag
Reichstag (German Empire)
The Reichstag was the parliament of the North German Confederation , and of the German Reich ....

 had no interest in colonial conquests merely to acquire square miles of territory.

In essence, Bismarck's colonial motives were obscure as he had said repeatedly "... I am no man for colonies" and "remained as contemptuous of all colonial dreams as ever." However, in 1884 he consented to the acquisition of colonies by the German Empire, in order to protect trade, to safeguard raw materials and export markets and to take opportunities for capital investment, among other reasons. In the very next year Bismarck shed personal involvement when "he abandoned his colonial drive as suddenly and casually as he had started it" as if he had committed an error in judgment that could confuse the substance of his more significant policies. "Indeed, in 1889, [Bismarck] tried to give German South West Africa away to the British. It was, he said, a burden and an expense, and he would like to saddle someone else with it."

German colonialism


The development of German overseas protectorates (with the exception of concession territories) essentially followed three phases.

Company land acquisitions and stewardship



The rise of German imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 and colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 coincided with the latter stages of the "scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

" during which enterprising German individuals, rather than government entities, competed with other already established colonies and colonialist entrepreneurs. With the Germans joining the race for the last uncharted territories in Africa and the Pacific that had not yet been carved up, competition for colonies thus involved all major European nations, plus several lesser powers.

The German effort included the first commercial endeavours in the 1850s and 1860s in West Africa, East Africa, the Samoan Islands and the unexplored landmass of the north-east quarter of New Guinea with adjacent islands. German traders and merchants began to establish themselves in the African Cameroon delta and the mainland coast across from Zanzibar. At Apia
Apia, Samoa
-Administration:Apia is part of the Tuamasaga political district and of election district Vaimauga West and Faleata East. There is no city administration for Apia. Apia consists of some 45 individual, independent villages...

 and the settlements Finschhafen
Finschhafen
Finschhafen is a district on the northeast coast of the Morobe province of Papua New Guinea. It is named after the port of the same name.The port was discovered in 1884 by the German researcher Otto Finsch. In 1885 the German colony of German New Guinea created a town on the site and named it...

, Simpsonhafen
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

 and the islands Neu-Pommern
New Britain
New Britain, or Niu Briten, is the largest island in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea. It is separated from the island of New Guinea by the Dampier and Vitiaz Straits and from New Ireland by St. George's Channel...

 and Neu-Mecklenburg
New Ireland (island)
New Ireland is a large island in Papua New Guinea, approximately 7,404 km² in area. It is the largest island of the New Ireland Province, lying northeast of the island of New Britain. Both islands are part of the Bismarck Archipelago, named after Otto von Bismarck, and they are separated by...

, trading companies newly fortified with credit began expansion into coastal landholding.
In the Caribbean, Germany attempted to establish the German Caribbean
German Caribbean
The German Caribbean was an unsuccessful imperial project undertaken by German colonists and the Reichsmarine during the late nineteenth century to establish a trading and military base in the West Indies...

 colony near Dutch-held territories, but this lasted for only a brief period in 1888. Large African inland acquisitions followed — mostly to the detriment of native inhabitants. In eastern Africa the imperialist and “man-of-action” Karl Peters
Karl Peters
Karl Peters , was a German colonial ruler, explorer, politician and author, the prime mover behind the foundation of the German colony of East Africa...

 accumulated vast tracts of land for his colonization group
Society for German Colonization
The Society for German Colonization was founded on March 28, 1884, by Dr. Karl Peters. The goal of the Gesellschaft für Deutsche Kolonisation was to acquire German colonial territories in overseas countries.In the autumn of 1884 Dr. Peters proceeded, together with Count Joachim von Pfeil und Klein...

, "emerging from the bush with X-marks [affixed by unlettered tribal chiefs] on documents ... for some 60 thousand square miles of the Zanzibar Sultanate’s mainland property." Such exploring missions required measures for security that could be solved with small private, armed contingents recruited mainly in the Sudan and led by adventurous former military personnel of lower ranks. Brutality, hangings and floggings prevailed during these land-grab expeditions under Peters’ control as well as others as no-one "held a monopoly in the mistreatment of Africans."

As Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

 was converted to the colonial idea by 1884, he favored "chartered company" land management rather than a colonial government setup due to financial considerations. Although temperate zone cultivation flourished, the demise and often failure of tropical low-land enterprises contributed to changing Bismarck’s view. He reluctantly acquiesced to pleas for help to deal with revolts and armed hostilities by often powerful rulers whose lucrative slavery activities seemed at risk. German native military forces initially engaged in dozens of punitive expeditions to apprehend and punish insurrectionist ring leaders and their followers, at times with British assistance. The author Charles Miller offers the theory that the Germans had the handicap of trying to colonize African areas inhabited by aggressive tribes, whereas their colonial neighbours had more docile peoples to contend with. At that time, the German penchant for giving muscle priority over patience contributed to continued unrest. Several of the African colonies remained powder kegs throughout this phase (and beyond). The transition to official acceptance of colonialism and to colonial government thus occurred during the last quarter of Bismarck’s tenure of office.

Colonial governments


Bismarck’s successor in 1890, Leo von Caprivi
Leo von Caprivi
Georg Leo Graf von Caprivi de Caprera de Montecuccoli was a German major general and statesman, who succeeded Otto von Bismarck as Chancellor of Germany...

, was willing to maintain the colonial burden of what already existed, but opposed new ventures. Others who followed, especially Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow , named in 1905 Prince von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.Bülow was described as possessing every quality except greatness...

, as foreign minister and chancellor, sanctioned the acquisition of the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 colonies and provided substantial treasury assistance to existing protectorates to employ administrators, commercial agents, surveyors, local "peacekeepers" and tax collectors. Kaiser Wilhelm II understood and lamented his nation’s position as colonial followers rather than leaders. In an interview with Cecil Rhodes in March 1899 he stated the alleged dilemma clearly; "... Germany has begun her colonial enterprise very late, and was, therefore, at the disadvantage of finding all the desirable places already occupied."

Nonetheless, Germany did assemble an overseas empire in Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 (see List of former German colonies) in the last two decades of the 19th century; "the creation of Germany’s colonial empire proceeded with the minimum of friction." The acquisition and the expansion of colonies were accomplished in a variety of ways, but principally through mercantile domination and pretexts that were always economic. Agreements and treaties with other colonial powers or interests followed, and fee simple
Fee simple
In English law, a fee simple is an estate in land, a form of freehold ownership. It is the most common way that real estate is owned in common law countries, and is ordinarily the most complete ownership interest that can be had in real property short of allodial title, which is often reserved...

 purchases of land or island groups. Only Togoland
Togoland
Togoland was a German protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. The colony was established during the period generally known as the "Scramble for Africa"...

 and German Samoa
German Samoa
German Samoa was a German protectorate from 1900 to 1914, consisting of the islands of Upolu, Savai'i, Apolima and Manono, now wholly within the independent state Samoa, formerly Western Samoa...

 became profitable and self-sufficient; the balance sheet for the colonies as a whole revealed a fiscal net loss for the empire. Despite this, the leadership in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 committed the nation to the financial support, maintenance, development and defense of these possessions.

Genocide and colonial overhaul


In the first years of the 20th century shipping lines had established scheduled services with refrigerated holds and agricultural products from the colonies, exotic fruits and spices, were sold to the public in Germany proper. The colonies were romanticized. Geologists and cartographers explored what were the unmarked regions on European maps, identifying mountains and rivers, and demarcating boundaries. Hermann Detzner
Hermann Detzner
Hermann Philipp Detzner was an officer in the German colonial security force in Kamerun and German New Guinea, as well as a surveyor, an engineer, an adventurer, and a writer....

 and one Captain Nugent, R.A., had charge of a joint project to demarcate the British and German frontiers of Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

, which was published in 1913. Travelers and newspaper reporters brought back stories of black and brown natives serving German managers and settlers. There were also suspicions and reports of colonial malfeasance, corruption and brutality in some protectorates, and Lutheran and Roman Catholic missionaries dispatched disturbing reports to their mission headquarters in Germany.

Exposés followed in the print media throughout Germany of the Herero rebellions in 1904 in German South West Africa (Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 today) where in military interventions between 50% to 70% of the Herero population perished
Herero and Namaqua Genocide
The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa , during the scramble for Africa...

. The subduing of the Maji Maji
Maji Maji Rebellion
The Maji Maji Rebellion, sometimes called the Maji Maji War, was a violent African resistance to colonial rule in the German colony of Tanganyika, an uprising by several African indigenous communities in German East Africa against the German rule in response to a German policy designed to force...

 uprising in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 in 1905 was prominently published. "A wave of anti-colonial feeling began to gather momentum in Germany" and resulted in large voter turn-outs in the so-called "Hottentot election" for the Reichstag in 1906. The conservative Bülow government barely survived, but in January 1907 the newly elected Reichstag imposed a "complete overhaul" upon the colonial service.

Bernhard Dernburg, a former banker from Darmstadt
Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

 was appointed as the new secretary of the revamped colonial office
Reichskolonialamt
The Imperial Colonial Office was the German governmental agency tasked with managing Germany's overseas protectorates or colonies. After the First World War, on 20 February 1919, the Imperial Colonial Ministry replaced the Imperial Colonial Office...

. Entrenched incompetents were screened out and summarily removed from office and "not a few had to stand trial. Replacing the misfits was a new breed of efficient, humane, colonial civil servant, usually the product of Dernburg's own creation, the ... Colonial Institute at Hamburg." In African protectorates, especially Togoland
Togoland
Togoland was a German protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. The colony was established during the period generally known as the "Scramble for Africa"...

 and German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

, "improbably advanced and humane administrations emerged."

Growth



German colonial diplomatic efforts remained commercially inspired, "the colonial economy was thriving ... and roads, railways, shipping and telegraph communications were up to the minute." Overhaul of the colonial administrative apparatus thus set the stage for the final and most promising period of German colonialism. Bernhard Dernburg’s declaration that the indigenous population in the protectorates "was the most important factor in our colonies" was affirmed by new laws. The use of forced, unpaid labor went on the books as a criminal offense. Governor Wilhelm Solf
Wilhelm Solf
Wilhelm Heinrich Solf was a German scholar, diplomat, jurist and statesman.-Early life:Wilhelm Solf was born into a wealthy and liberal family in Berlin. He attended secondary schools in Anklam in western Pomerania and in Mannheim...

 of Samoa
German Samoa
German Samoa was a German protectorate from 1900 to 1914, consisting of the islands of Upolu, Savai'i, Apolima and Manono, now wholly within the independent state Samoa, formerly Western Samoa...

 would call the islanders "unsere braunen Schützlinge" [our brown charges], who could be guided but not forced. Heinrich Schnee in East Africa proclaimed that "the dominant feature of my administration [will be] ... the welfare of the natives entrusted into my care." Idealists often volunteered for selection and appointment to government posts, others with an entrepreneurial bent labored to swell the dividends at home for the Hanseatic trading houses and shipping lines. Subsequent historians would commend German colonialism in those years as "an engine of modernization with far-reaching effects for the future."

The established merchants and plantation operators in the African colonies frequently managed to sway government policies. Capital investments by banks were secured with public funds of the imperial treasury to minimize risk. Dernburg, as a former banker, facilitated such thinking; he saw his commission to also turn the colonies into paying propositions. Every African protectorate built rail lines to the interior, every colony in Africa and the Pacific established the beginnings of a public school system, every colony built and staffed hospitals. Whatever the Germans constructed in their colonies was made to last.
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam
Dar es Salaam , formerly Mzizima, is the largest city in Tanzania. It is also the country's richest city and a regionally important economic centre. Dar es Salaam is actually an administrative province within Tanzania, and consists of three local government areas or administrative districts: ...

 evolved into "the showcase city of all of tropical Africa," Lome
Lomé
Lomé, with an estimated population of 737,751, is the capital and largest city of Togo. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country's administrative and industrial center and its chief port. The city exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels...

 grew into the "prettiest town in west Africa," and Tsingtao
Qingdao
' also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city with a population of over 8.715 million in eastern Shandong province, Eastern China. Its built up area, made of 7 urban districts plus Jimo city, is home to about 4,346,000 inhabitants in 2010.It borders Yantai to the...

 in China was in miniature as German a city as Hamburg or Bremen. For indigenous populations in some colonies native agricultural holdings were encouraged and supported. Managed well and allowed to "take [their] great share in the commerce and prosperity of the world" the German colonies could and would provide a fair good for all, colonizers and natives alike.

German colonial population


The colonies were primarily commercial and plantation regions and did not attract large numbers of German settlers. The majority of German emigrants chose North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 as their destination and not the colonies – of 1,085,124 emigrants between 1887 and 1906, 1,007,574 headed to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. When the imperial government invited the 22,000 soldiers mobilized to subdue the Hereros to settle in German South-West Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

, and offered financial aid, only 5% accepted.

The German colonial population numbered 5,125 in 1903, and about 23,500 in 1913. The German pre–World War I colonial population consisted of 19,696 Germans in Africa and the Pacific colonies in 1913, including more than 3,000 police and soldiers, and 3,806 in Kiaochow
Jiaozhou Bay concession
The Kiautschou Bay concession was a German colonial concession in Imperial China which existed from 1898 to 1914. It had an area of 552 km², it was located around Jiaozhou Bay on the southern coast of the Shandong Peninsula, which lay in the imperial province of Shandong in northern China.Jiaozhou...

 (1910), including 2,275 navy and military staff. In Africa (1913), 12,292 Germans lived in Southwest Africa, 4,107 in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 and 1,643 in Cameroon. In the Pacific colonies (1913) lived a total of 1,645 Germans.

After World War I, the military and "undesired persons" were expelled from the German protectorates. In 1934 the former colonies were inhabited by 16,774 Germans, of whom about 12,000 lived in the former Southwest African colony. Once the new owners of the colonies again permitted immigration from Germany, the numbers rose in the following years above the pre–World War I total.

Medicine and science



In her African and South Seas colonies Germany established diverse biological and agricultural stations. Staff specialists and the occasional visiting university group conducted soil analyses, developed plant hybrids, experimented with fertilizers, studied vegetable pests and ran courses in agronomy for settlers and natives and performed a host of other tasks. Successful German plantation operators realized the benefits of systematic scientific inquiry and instituted and maintained their own stations with their own personnel, who further engaged in exploration and documentation of the native fauna and flora.

Research by bacteriologists Robert Koch
Robert Koch
Heinrich Hermann Robert Koch was a German physician. He became famous for isolating Bacillus anthracis , the Tuberculosis bacillus and the Vibrio cholerae and for his development of Koch's postulates....

 and Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich
Paul Ehrlich was a German scientist in the fields of hematology, immunology, and chemotherapy, and Nobel laureate. He is noted for curing syphilis and for his research in autoimmunity, calling it "horror autotoxicus"...

 and other scientists was funded by the imperial treasury and was freely shared with other nations. More than three million Africans were vaccinated against smallpox. Medical doctors the world over benefitted from pioneering work into tropical diseases and German pharmaceutical discoveries "became a standard therapy for sleeping sickness and relapsing fever. On the basis of its achievements in medicine and agriculture alone, the German presence [in Africa] seemed more than justified."

Conquest in the First World War



In the years before the outbreak of the Great War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, British colonial officers viewed the Germans as deficient in “colonial aptitude,” but “whose colonial administration was nevertheless superior to those of the other European states.” Anglo-German colonial issues in the decade before 1914 were minor and both empires, the British and German, took conciliatory attitudes. Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, considered still a moderate in 1911, was willing to “study the map of Africa in a pro-German spirit.” Britain further recognized that Germany really had little of value to offer in territorial transactions, however, advice to Grey and Prime Minister H. H. Asquith
H. H. Asquith
Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, KG, PC, KC served as the Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916...

 hardened by early 1914 “to stop the trend of what the advisers considered Germany’s taking and Britain’s giving.”

The 1914 assassination of the Habsburg archduke
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six Bosnian Serb assassins coordinated by Danilo Ilić...

 brought the European nations slithering, as David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George
David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor OM, PC was a British Liberal politician and statesman...

 wrote, "over the brink into the boiling cauldron of war.” On 5 August 1914, Britain decided to carry the struggle to Africa and the Pacific, initiating colonial campaigns with naval might and dominion manpower to conquer Germany's protectorates.

Both in the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and, eventually in the United States, it was feared that Germany eventually would “make a bid for world hegemony” by means of an African conscript army. The Allies felt they had a responsibility to protect the natives from Prussian militarism and German technological developments which would threaten the security of the British Empire. Bringing the war to the Dominions and the protectorates widened the scope of armed conflict. To garner support, the public in Britain and especially in the Dominions was informed that military bases would be built in German colonies, from which “at every opportunity German ships will dash from cover to harry and destroy our commerce ... [and] raid our coasts.” Thus, it was in the interest of the Dominions to destroy Germany’s colonies, thereby ensuring their own safety and the British Empire’s security. The British government portrayed Germany as unworthy to have colonies, that they were unfit to govern native races. The doctrine of Germany’s guilt as a uniquely brutal and cruel colonial power originated during the [early days of] war, not before.”

By the close of 1916, all was moot; “the German colonies except the one in East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 had surrendered” to large invading forces. Only in East Africa it would then be two more years before the German flag disappeared from Africa and every German colonial territory was under Allied occupation. South Africa’s J.C. Smuts
Jan Smuts
Jan Christiaan Smuts, OM, CH, ED, KC, FRS, PC was a prominent South African and British Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. In addition to holding various cabinet posts, he served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and from 1939 until 1948...

, now in London, could speak as an expert like no other. This new member of the war cabinet spoke of German schemes for world power, militarization and exploitation of resources. "The Germans, Smuts implied, would endanger western civilization itself. By conjuring up a German 'black peril' [at their doorstep], Smuts caught the public’s imagination. ... His ideas reverberated throughout the British press" and had the desired effect that, "whatever happens, these colonies can never be returned to Germany, and it follows as an almost inevitable corollary ... they should remain with us [i.e., the Allies]."

Confiscation


Germany's overseas empire was dismantled following defeat in World War I. With the concluding Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, Article 22, German colonies were divided between Belgium, the United Kingdom, and certain British Dominions, France, and Japan with the determination not to see any of them returned to Germany — a guarantee secured by Article 119.
In Africa, Britain and France divided German Kamerun (Cameroons) and Togoland
Togoland
Togoland was a German protectorate in West Africa from 1884 to 1914, encompassing what is now the nation of Togo and most of what is now the Volta Region of Ghana. The colony was established during the period generally known as the "Scramble for Africa"...

. Belgium gained Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi
Ruanda-Urundi was a Belgian suzerainty from 1916 to 1924, a League of Nations Class B Mandate from 1924 to 1945 and then a United Nations trust territory until 1962, when it became the independent states of Rwanda and Burundi.- Overview :...

 in northwestern German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

, Great Britain obtained by far the greater landmass of this colony, thus gaining the ‘missing link’ in the chain of British possessions stretching from South Africa to Egypt (Cape to Cairo), Portugal received the Kionga Triangle
Kionga Triangle
The Kionga Triangle was a tiny territory on the border between German East Africa and the Portuguese colony of Portuguese East Africa , totalling just 1000 km² .Originally, the Germans established this as their outpost south of the Rovuma River, and there was a settlement...

, a sliver of German East Africa. German South West Africa was taken under mandate by the Union of South Africa.

In the Pacific, Japan gained Germany’s islands north of the equator (the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

, the Carolines, the Marianas, the Palau Islands
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

) and Kiautschou
Jiaozhou Bay
The Jiaozhou Bay is a sea gulf located in Qingdao Prefecture of Shandong Province. It was a German colonial concession from 1898 until 1914....

 in China. German Samoa
German Samoa
German Samoa was a German protectorate from 1900 to 1914, consisting of the islands of Upolu, Savai'i, Apolima and Manono, now wholly within the independent state Samoa, formerly Western Samoa...

 was assigned to New Zealand; German New Guinea
German New Guinea
German New Guinea was the first part of the German colonial empire. It was a protectorate from 1884 until 1914 when it fell to Australia following the outbreak of the First World War. It consisted of the northeastern part of New Guinea and several nearby island groups...

, the Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago
The Bismarck Archipelago is a group of islands off the northeastern coast of New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean and is part of the Islands Region of Papua New Guinea.-History:...

 and Nauru
Nauru
Nauru , officially the Republic of Nauru and formerly known as Pleasant Island, is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. Its nearest neighbour is Banaba Island in Kiribati, to the east. Nauru is the world's smallest republic, covering just...

 to Australia as mandatory.


British placement of surrogate responsibility for former German colonies on white-settler dominions was at the time determined to be the most expedient option for the British government — and an appropriate reward for the Dominions having fulfilled their "great and urgent imperial service " through military intervention at the behest of and for Great Britain. It also meant that British colonies now had colonies of their own — which was very much influenced at the Paris proceedings by W.M. Hughes
Billy Hughes
William Morris "Billy" Hughes, CH, KC, MHR , Australian politician, was the seventh Prime Minister of Australia from 1915 to 1923....

, William Massey
William Massey
William Ferguson Massey, often known as Bill Massey or "Farmer Bill" served as the 19th Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1912 to 1925, and was the founder of the Reform Party. He is widely considered to have been one of the more skilled politicians of his time, and was known for the particular...

, and Louis Botha
Louis Botha
Louis Botha was an Afrikaner and first Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa—the forerunner of the modern South African state...

, the prime ministers of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The principle of 'self-determination,' embodied in the League of Nations covenant was not considered to apply to these colonies and was "regarded as meaningless." To "allay President [Woodrow] Wilson’s suspicions of British imperialism," the system of ’mandates’
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 was drawn up and agreed to by the British War Cabinet (with the French and Italians in tow), a device by which conquered enemy territory would be held not as a possession but as ‘sacred trusts.’ But "far from envisaging the eventual independence of the [former] German colonies, Allied statesmen at the Paris Conference regarded 1919 as the renewal, not the end, of an imperial era." In deliberations the British "War Cabinet had confidence that natives everywhere would opt for British rule," however, the cabinet acknowledged "the necessity to prove that its policy toward the German colonies was not motivated by aggrandizement," since the Empire was seen by American eyes as a "land devouring octopus" with a "voracious territorial appetite."

Epilogue


President Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 saw the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 as "'residuary trustee' for the [German] colonies" captured and occupied by "rapacious conquerors". The victors retained the German overseas possessions and did so with the belief that Australian, Belgian, British, French, Japanese, New Zealand, Portuguese and South African rule was superior to Germany’s. Several decades later during the collapse of the then existing colonial empires, Africans and Asians cited the same arguments that had been used by the Allies against German colonial rule — they now simply demanded "to stand by themselves."

In the 1920s, some individuals and the German Colonial Society fought for the idea of colonialism. Settlement in Africa though was not popular, and also not a focus of interest of the Hitler government.

There are hardly any special ties between modern Germany and its former colonies; for example, there is no postcolonial league comparable to the British Commonwealth of Nations. In stark contrast with French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, both of which are widely spoken across the continent by those of both African and European ancestry, the German language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 is not a significant language in Africa even within former colonies; although it is spoken by a significant minority of the population of Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

. Germany cooperates economically and culturally with many countries in Africa and Asia, independent from colonial history.

Continuity thesis


In recent years scholars have debated the "continuity thesis" that links German colonialist brutalities to the treatment of Jews, Poles and Russians during World War II. Some historians argue that Germany's role in southwestern Africa gave rise to an emphasis on racial superiority at home, which in turn was used by the Nazis. Other scholars, however, are skeptical and challenge the continuity thesis.

Sources and references


See also

  • List of former German colonies
  • German colonization of the Americas
    German colonization of the Americas
    The German colonization of the Americas consisted of failed attempts to settle Venezuela , St. Thomas, the Crab Island and Tertholen in the 16th and 17th centuries.-Klein-Venedig:...

  • German East Africa Company
    German East Africa Company
    The German East Africa Company was an organization established at the start of the German colonization of East Africa. This company, in short, was responsible for the activities in the new colony such as setting up leadership, future explorations, and the development of the region.In 1888, the...

  • German New Guinea Company
    German New Guinea Company
    The German New Guinea Company was a German Chartered Company which exploited insular territory in and near present Papua New Guinea.- History :...

  • Brandenburger Gold Coast
    Brandenburger Gold Coast
    The Brandenburger Gold Coast, later Prussian Gold Coast, was a part of the Gold Coast. The Brandenburg colony existed from 1682 to 1717.- Brandenburger Gold Coast :...

  • Reichskolonialbund
    Reichskolonialbund
    The Reichskolonialbund was a collective body that absorbed all German colonial organizations during the time of the Third Reich...

  • Wilhelminism
    Wilhelminism
    The Wilhelmine Period comprises the period between 1890 and 1918, embracing the reign of Wilhelm II and the First World War. By Wilhelminism is not meant a conception of society associated with the name Wilhelm, and traceable to an intellectual initiative of the German Emperor...


External links