(TURN of the CENTURY IMPERIALISM – continued)

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Germans in Africa, Asia and Oceania

After the Spanish-American war concluded in 1898, Germany brought from Spain various islands in the Pacific: the Mariana Islands – except for Guam, which the United States had expropriated – and the Caroline and Marshall Islands. In December 1899, an agreement signed by Britain, the United States and Germany gave recognition to Germany's control over Western Samoa, Germany having been involved in that part of the world for a half century or more.

At the turn of the century, the Germans were declaring China's Shandong peninsula as their sphere of influence, and they were established in in Tanganyika (later to be known as Tanzania) on the east coast of Africa. They were established also in Togoland, in Cameroon and in Southwest Africa – areas that Germany had claimed for itself in the mid-1880s.

Cameroon was largely tropical wilderness and sparsely populated, and there the Germans suffered from a scarcity of labor as they tried to produce and export rubber and to harvest and export palm kernels. In Southwest Africa, water was too scarce for agriculture, and the Germans were hoping to create a German-owned cattle industry. By 1903, 4,700 German civilians were in Southwest Africa, enough Germans for an expansion that drove local people from their tribal lands. In 1904, the pastoral Herero and Nama peoples, who traditionally had warred against each other, rebelled against the Germans. German troops crushed the rebellion, killing local chieftains and one-third of the Nama nation. Five thousand Germans died in the war, thousands of Hereros were driven into exile, and only one-third of the Herero people remained in Southwest Africa after the war.

In Tanganyika, the Germans tried to create a plantation agriculture, introducing a rubber industry and the growing of tea and cinchona. In 1905, the German administration in Tanganyika ordered local people to give up their traditional pursuits and raise cotton on communal plots. The distressed people turned to their tribal priests, who gave them water medicine (maji) said to be powerful enough to protect them from the bullets of white men. A violent uprising against the Germans began in July 1905, and within a few weeks the Germans broke the main thrust of the revolt. But order was not restored in Tanganyika until 1907, with the war, famine and disease having killed an estimated 75,000 Africans.


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