Order 1017647: political, social, religious and ethnic composition of german society from 1871-1924

The German Overseas Empire

First Phase

April 1884. German S.-W. Africa declared a protectorate.

July 1884. Togo & German Cameroon follow.

February 1885. Territory bought, negotiated at gun point , or otherwise claimed by the Society for Colonisation in East Africa brought under formal protection.

May 1885. Territory administered by German business in South Pacific (New Guinea company) follows.

Second Phase

March 1898. Kiatschou & Tsingtao 99 yr lease from China

June 1899. Following defeat vs U.S. Spain sells Germany Caroline islands, Palau, Mariana islands in S. Pacific

March 1900. Samoa divided between U.S. & Germany

1911. Germany takes part of Congo.

1914. Germany claims sovereignty over 13.7 million inhabitants in overseas empire

1918. Defeat in WW1 and loss of colonies


German South-West Africa

German S.-W. Africa

Only colony with significant German settlement

Windhuk & Swakopmund have German character

As elsewhere, failure to keep order and run economy effectively..

= increased involvement of Berlin & arrival of more troops & officials.

In this way ‘protectorates’ developed into formal colonial possessions (not envisaged by Bismarck)

As elsewhere, however, colonial officials retain significant autonomy. (‘The Leutwein-system’ 1894-1905). ‘Puttkamerun’

Violence and Colonial rule

Three major colonial wars

Boxer Rebellion in China (1899-1901), where German troops perpetrated numerous massacres,

Genocide of Herero and Nama in German S-West Africa (1904–7)

The Maji Maji war (1905–8): suppression of rebellions in E. Africa that developed from a religious awakening (cult worship of water (Maji in Swahili). African dead c300,000, most a result of famine caused by the destruction of crops.

Also…63 ‘penal expeditions’ (1891 and1897) against non-compliant in the interior,

& violent nature of everyday relations, especially use of corporal punishment.

Indigen laws: beatings for disobedience, or ‘breaking contract’,

(threat & use needed for labour in the colonial economy)

Hide or rope whips: 15,000 p.a. 1912/13

German S.-W. Africa:

Herero and Nama uprisings (1904)


1896- Cattle disease, malaria, typhus, locusts, drought force many Herero to sell land to settlers and

increases indebtedness to German traders, who use military to force repayment.

Policy to deny Herero enough land for nomadic self-sufficiency,

make them sedentary and dependent on wage labour

..& leave only some (poor quality) land for reservations.

Further German settlement follows Swakopmund-Windhuk railway (1902)

Herero support for German-sanctioned leader (Maharero) collapses

Rebellion to re-take land launched 11.1.1904 (German troops away in south)

German farms plundered / occupied. 123 killed.

The German Response

Leutwein tries to make contact with Maharero

But Berlin requests immediate, unconditional defeat of Herero,

replacing Leutwein with v. Throtha

Throtha intends to surround Herero at Waterberg and execute leadership. Sets up prison camps.

Attack (11.8.04) succeeds in defeating Herero, but many escape

Warfare Radicalised

Troops force Herero away from water sources.

Oct 2 – Dec 9 1904.

Policy to shoot all rebellious Herero. No more prisoners.

Existing prisoners put to forced labour.

Throtha seen as a pioneer of 20 C. genocide

Believed in unavoidable racial struggle and had no use for Herero as labour (unlike missionaries, colonial administration and most settlers).

Berlin eventually backs off slightly (although Trotha still feted as a national hero)

Missionaries resettle and return some Herero

Oct 1904. Herero uprising sparks rebellion by Nama, who fear disarmament and loss of remaining autonomy.

Guerrilla war –ends Oct 1905 (Hendrik Wittbooi killed.)


Trophy shots

Colonial Policies and National Socialism

Pascal Grosse: a ‘shared governing structure […] based on eugenicist ideas of racial selection, racial re-production and territorial expansion’.

Benjamin Madely: Massacre of Herero and Nama

‘incubator’ of ideas, methods and a vocabulary for Nazis

Methods: forced labour.

The Human Cost

For native populations..

80% of Herero 50% of Nama

Remaining expropriated, resettled on reservations.

‘Indigenous Peoples Laws’ tie remaining Herero to farm work

(work permits and passports, moves to tattoo non-compliant)

Psychological effects of massacre.

Destruction of social organisation..

Many seek stability in Christianity of missionaries

For Germans

German forces and settlers: 1750 dead (many non-white)

(17,000 troops in action 1904-6.)

Cost. 400,000,000 M.

Subjugation of Herero (+ diamonds & better infrastructure) increases German settlement

4640 (1903) to 14,830 (1913)

Labour shortage (despite contract labour system).

Workers imported from Ovamboland and Br. S. Africa

Renewed criticism of colonial policy at home.

German – Colonial Subject Relations

The Loss of the Colonies

Article 22 of the Treaty of Versailles

To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant.

The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their resources, their experience or their geographical position can best undertake this responsibility, and who are willing to accept it

Pro colonial lobby after 1918

- resent implication that Germany is not advanced (Kämper)

- argue that Germany is an advanced nation and therefore has a right to colonies

- fabricate a history of good treatment and good relations with subject peoples in response

Karl Goetz’s, Black Shame Medal (Bavarian State Mint, 1920)

The ‘Black Horror’

Black soldiers policing the Rhineland under French occupation

25,000 / 85 000 from North Africa and Senegal

‘Spectre of reverse colonialism’ (E. Martin)

Propaganda war depicts French colonial troops as rapists

Fear of racial contamination / national degeneracy

The use of black soldiers in Europe reveals French as unworthy imperial masters

Hannah Höch, Mischling [mixed race] 1924

Kolmanskop – mining town


Colmarer Kreisblatt 2.10.1886

For some time now, for the purposes of military training, three Cameroon negroes have been staying in Berlin. They will return to their homeland with the ‘Louise’ in the next few days. They have learnt to speak German fairly well and also adopted respectable manners. In Cameroon it is intended that they will serve as policemen and interpreters.

Colmar District Bulletin 2.10.1886

Colmarer Kreisblatt 2.10.1886


Trophy shots

Kolmanskop – mining town


Colmarer Kreisblatt 2.10.1886