German East Africa
Green: Territory comprising German colony of German East Africa
Dark gray: Other German possessions Darkest gray: German EmpireNote: the map depicts the historical extent for German territories on a globe showing present day borders
|Capital|| Bagamoyo (1885–90)|
Dar es Salaam (1890–1918)
|Common languages|| German (official)|
Swahili, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, Maa, Iraqw, Chaga languages
|Religion||Islam, traditional African religion, Christianity (Catholic Church and Lutheranism)|
• 1895–96 (first)
• 1912–18 (last)
|Historical era||New Imperialism|
• Established by the German East Africa Company
|27 February 1885|
• Border agreement under the Heligoland–Zanzibar Treaty
|1 July 1890|
|21 October 1905|
• Surrender to Britain
|25 November 1918|
• Formally disestablished under the Treaty of Versailles
|28 June 1919|
|1913||995,000 km2 (384,000 sq mi)|
|Currency||German East African rupie|
|Today part of|
German East Africa (German : Deutsch-Ostafrika) (GEA) was a German colony in the African Great Lakes region, which included present-day Burundi, Rwanda, and the mainland part of Tanzania. GEA's area was 994,996 square kilometres (384,170 sq mi), which was nearly three times the area of present-day Germany, and double the area of metropolitan Germany then.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
The German colonial empire constituted the overseas colonies, dependencies and territories of Imperial Germany. The chancellor of this time period was Otto von Bismarck. Short-lived attempts of colonization by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but crucial colonial efforts only began in 1884 with the Scramble for Africa. Claiming much of the left-over colonies that were yet unclaimed in the Scramble of Africa, Germany managed to build the third largest colonial empire after the British and the French, at the time. Germany lost control when World War I began in 1914 and its colonies were seized by its enemies in the first weeks of the war. However some military units held out for a while longer: German South West Africa surrendered in 1915, Kamerun in 1916 and German East Africa only in 1918 at the end of the war. Germany's colonial empire was officially confiscated with the Treaty of Versailles after Germany's defeat in the war and the various units became League of Nations mandates under the supervision of one of the victorious powers.
The African Great Lakes are a series of lakes constituting the part of the Rift Valley lakes in and around the East African Rift. They include Lake Victoria, the third-largest fresh water lake in the world by area, Lake Tanganyika, the world's second-largest freshwater lake by volume and depth, and Lake Malawi, the world's eight-largest fresh water lake by area. Collectively, they contain 31,000 km3 of water, which is more than either Lake Baikal or the North American Great Lakes. This total constitutes about 25% of the planet's unfrozen surface fresh water. The large rift lakes of Africa are the ancient home of great biodiversity, and 10% of the world's fish species live there.
The colony was organised when the German military was asked in the late 1880s to put down a revolt against the activities of the German East Africa Company. It ended with Imperial Germany's defeat in World War I. Ultimately, GEA was divided between Britain, Belgium and Portugal and was reorganised as a mandate of the League of Nations.
The German East Africa Company was a chartered colonial organization which brought about the establishment of German East Africa, a territory which eventually comprised the areas of modern Tanzania, Burundi, and Rwanda. The Company originated in 1884 as the Gesellschaft für deutsche Kolonisation with the aim of trading in Africa. The German protectorate of Wituland originated as a separate German sphere of influence in 1885. In April of the same year, the company leased the coastal strip opposite Zanzibar from Sultan Khalifa bin Said for 50 years. Its attempt to take over the administration led to a general revolt along the coast of what is now Tanzania. The company could only hold Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo with the help of the German navy. In 1889 it had to request the assistance of the German government to put down the rebellion. In 1891, after it became apparent that the company could not handle its dominions, it sold out to the German government, which began to rule German East Africa directly. The company initially continued to operate its many activities, including mines, plantations, railways, banking, minting, etc., before it consented to relinquish them to the German colonial administration and other organizations. It subsequently operated as a land company within the German territory until Britain occupied German East Africa during World War I.
The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
Like other colonial powers, the Germans expanded their empire in the Africa Great Lakes region, ostensibly to fight slavery and the slave trade. Unlike other imperial powers, however, they never formally abolished either, preferring instead to curtail the production of new "recruits" and regulate the existing slaving business. [ page needed ]
The colony began when Carl Peters, an adventurer who founded the Society for German Colonization, signed treaties with several native chieftains on the mainland opposite Zanzibar. On 3 March 1885, the German government announced that it had granted an imperial charter, which was signed by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck on 27 February 1885. The charter was granted to Peters' company and was intended to establish a protectorate in the African Great Lakes region. Peters then recruited specialists who began exploring south to the Rufiji River and north to Witu, near Lamu on the coast. [ page needed ] [ page needed ] [ page needed ]
Carl Peters, was a German colonial ruler, explorer, politician and author, a major promoter of the establishment of the German colony of East Africa. A proponent of Social Darwinism and the Völkisch philosophy, his attitude towards the indigenous population made him one of the most controversial colonizers even during his lifetime.
The Society for German Colonization was founded on 28 March 1884 in Berlin by Carl Peters. Its goal was to accumulate capital for the acquisition of German colonial territories in overseas countries.
Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja and Pemba Island. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site.
The Sultan of Zanzibar protested, claiming that he was the ruler of both Zanzibar and the mainland. Chancellor Bismarck then sent five warships, which arrived on 7 August 1885 and trained their guns on the Sultan's palace. The British and Germans agreed to divide the mainland between themselves, and the Sultan had no option but to agree. [ page needed ]
German rule was established quickly over Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam, and Kilwa. The caravans of Tom von Prince, Wilhelm Langheld, Emin Pasha, and Charles Stokes were sent to dominate "the Street of Caravans."[ citation needed ] The Abushiri Revolt of 1888 was put down with British help the following year. In 1890, London and Berlin concluded the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, which returned Heligoland to Germany and decided the border between GEA and the East Africa Protectorate controlled by Britain, although the exact boundaries remained unsurveyed until 1910. [ page needed ]
Bagamoyo, Tanzania, is a town founded at the end of the 18th century, though it is an extension of a much older settlement, Kaole. It was the capital of German East Africa and was one of the most important trading ports along the East African coast along the west of the Indian Ocean. In 2011, the town had 82,578 inhabitants and is the capital of the Bagamoyo District.
Dar es Salaam (Dar) is the former capital as well as the most populous city in Tanzania and a regionally important economic centre. Located on the Swahili coast, the city is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
Mehmed Emin Pasha was an Ottoman physician of German Jewish origin, naturalist, and governor of the Egyptian province of Equatoria on the upper Nile. The Ottoman Empire conferred the title "Pasha" on him in 1886, and thereafter he was referred to as "Emin Pasha".
Between 1891 and 1894, the Hehe people, led by Chief Mkwawa, resisted German expansion. They were defeated because rival tribes supported the Germans. After years of guerrilla warfare, Mkwawa himself was cornered and committed suicide in 1898.
The Maji Maji Rebellion occurred in 1905and was put down by Governor Gustav Adolf von Götzen. Scandal soon followed, however, with allegations of corruption and brutality. In 1907, Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow appointed Bernhard Dernburg to reform the colonial administration.
German colonial administrators relied heavily on native chiefs to keep order and collect taxes. By 1 January 1914, aside from local police, the military garrisons of the Schutztruppen (protective troops) at Dar es Salaam, Moshi, Iringa, and Mahenge numbered 110 German officers (including 42 medical officers), 126 non-commissioned officers, and 2,472 Askari (native enlisted men). 32:
Germans promoted commerce and economic growth. Over 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) were put under sisal cultivation, which was the largest cash crop. Two million coffee trees were planted, rubber trees grew on 200,000 acres (81,000 ha), and there were large cotton plantations.
To bring these agricultural products to market, beginning in 1888, the Usambara Railway was built from Tanga to Moshi. The Central Railroad covered 775 miles (1,247 km) and linked Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Tabora, and Kigoma. The final link to the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika was completed in July 1914 and was cause for a huge and festive celebration in the capital with an agricultural fair and trade exhibition. Harbor facilities were built or improved with electrical cranes, with rail access and warehouses. Wharves were remodeled at Tanga, Bagamoyo, and Lindi. In 1912, Dar es Salaam and Tanga received 356 freighters and passenger steamers and over 1,000 coastal ships and local trading-vessels. :30 Dar es Salaam became the showcase city of all of tropical Africa. :22 By 1914, Dar es Salaam and the surrounding province had a population of 166,000, among them 1,000 Germans. In all of the GEA, there were 3,579 Germans. :155
Gold mining in Tanzania in modern times dates back to the German colonial period, beginning with gold discoveries near Lake Victoria in 1894. The Kironda-Goldminen-Gesellschaft established one of the first gold mines in the colony, the Sekenke Gold Mine, which began operation in 1909 after the finding of gold there in 1907.
Germany developed an educational program for Africans that included elementary, secondary, and vocational schools.[ citation needed ] "Instructor qualifications, curricula, textbooks, teaching materials, all met standards unmatched anywhere in tropical Africa." :21 In 1924, ten years after the beginning of the First World War and six years into British rule, the visiting American Phelps-Stokes Commission reported, "In regards to schools, the Germans have accomplished marvels. Some time must elapse before education attains the standard it had reached under the Germans." :21
The Swahili word "shule" means school and has been borrowed from the German word "schule".
In the most populous colony of the German Empire, there were more than 7.5 million locals compared to around 10,000 Europeans, who resided mainly in coastal locations and official residences. In 1913, only 882 German farmers and planters lived in the colony. About 70,000 Africans worked on the plantations of GEA.
General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who had served in German South West Africa and Kamerun, led the German military in GEA during World War I. His military consisted of 3,500 Europeans and 12,000 native Askaris and porters. Their war strategy was to harry the British/Imperial army of 40,000, which was at times commanded by the former Second Boer War commander Jan Smuts. One of Lettow-Vorbeck's greatest victories was at the Battle of Tanga (3–5 November 1914), where German forces defeated a British force more than eight times larger.
Lettow-Vorbeck's guerrilla warfare compelled Britain to commit significant resources to a minor colonial theatre throughout the war and inflicted more than 10,000 casualties. Eventually, the weight of numbers, especially after forces coming from the Belgian Congo had attacked from the west (Battle of Tabora), and dwindling supplies forced Lettow-Vorbeck to abandon the colony. He withdrew south into Portuguese Mozambique, then into Northern Rhodesia where he agreed to a ceasefire three days after the end of the war after receiving news of the armistice between the warring nations.
Lettow-Vorbeck was acclaimed after the war as one of Germany's heroes. His Schutztruppe was celebrated as the only colonial German force during World War I that was not defeated in open combat, although they often retreated when outnumbered. The Askari colonial troops that had fought in the East African campaign were later given pension payments by the Weimar Republic and West Germany.
The SMS Königsberg, a German light cruiser, also fought off the coast of the African Great Lakes region. She was eventually scuttled in the Rufiji delta in July 1915 after running low on coal and spare parts, and was subsequently blockaded and bombarded by the British. The surviving crew stripped out the remaining ship's guns and mounted them on gun carriages, before joining the land forces, adding considerably to their effectiveness.
Another and smaller campaign was conducted on the shores of southern Lake Tanganyika over 1914–15. This involved a makeshift British and Belgian flotilla, and the Reichsheer garrison at Bismarckburg (modern day Kasanga).[ citation needed ]
The Supreme Council of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference awarded all of German East Africa (GEA) to Britain on 7 May 1919, over the strenuous objections of Belgium. 240 The British colonial secretary, Alfred Milner, and Belgium's minister plenipotentiary to the conference, Pierre Orts , then negotiated the Anglo-Belgian agreement of 30 May 1919 :618–9 where Britain ceded the north-western GEA districts of Ruanda and Urundi to Belgium. :246 The conference's Commission on Mandates ratified this agreement on 16 July 1919. :246–7 The Supreme Council accepted the agreement on 7 August 1919. :612–3:
On 12 July 1919, the Commission on Mandates agreed that the small Kionga Triangle south of the Rovuma River would be given to Portugal, 243 with it eventually becoming part of independent Mozambique. The commission reasoned that Germany had virtually forced Portugal to cede the triangle in 1894. :243:
The Treaty of Versailles was signed on 28 July 1919, although the treaty did not take effect until 10 January 1920. On that date, the GEA was transferred officially to Britain, Belgium, and Portugal. Also on that date, "Tanganyika" became the name of the British territory.
Most place names in German East Africa continued to bear German spellings of the local names, such as "Udjidji" for Ujiji and "Kilimandscharo" for Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as German translations of some local phrases, such as "Kleinaruscha" for Arusha-Chini and "Neu-Moschi" for the city now known as Moshi. (Kigoma was known for a time as "Rutschugi".)
The few exceptions to the rule included:
The governors of German East Africa were as follows:
In 1914 a series of drafts were made for proposed Coat of Arms and Flags for the German Colonies. However, World War I broke out before the designs were finished and implemented and the symbols were never actually taken into use. Following the defeat in the war, Germany lost all its colonies and the prepared coat of arms and flags were therefore never used.
The African Great Lakes nation of Tanzania dates formally from 1964, when it was formed out of the union of the much larger mainland territory of Tanganyika and the coastal archipelago of Zanzibar. The former was a colony and part of German East Africa from the 1880s to 1919, when, under the League of Nations, it became a British mandate. It served as a military outpost during World War II, providing financial help, munitions, and soldiers. In 1947, Tanganyika became a United Nations Trust Territory under British administration, a status it kept until its independence in 1961. Zanzibar was settled as a trading hub, subsequently controlled by the Portuguese, the Sultanate of Oman, and then as a British protectorate by the end of the nineteenth century.
An askari was a local soldier serving in the armies of the European colonial powers in Africa, particularly in the African Great Lakes, Northeast Africa and Central Africa. The word is used in this sense in English, as well as in German, Italian, Urdu and Portuguese. In French, the word is used only in reference to native troops outside the French colonial empire. The designation is still in occasional use today to informally describe police, gendarmerie and security guards.
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, nicknamed affectionately as the Lion of Africa, was a general in the German Army and the commander of its forces in the German East Africa campaign. For four years, with a force that never exceeded about 14,000, he held in check a much larger force of 300,000 British, Indian, Belgian, and Portuguese troops. Essentially undefeated in the field, Lettow-Vorbeck was the only German commander to successfully invade imperial British soil during the First World War. His exploits in the campaign have been described by Edwin Palmer Hoyt "as the greatest single guerrilla operation in history, and the most successful." Others have opined that it was "a campaign of supreme ruthlessness where a small, well trained force extorted supplies from civilians to whome it felt no responsibility...it was the climax of Africa's exploitation". Lettow-Vorbeck's tactics led to famine that killed thousands of Africans and weakened the population, leaving it vulnerable to influenza epidemic in 1919.
Schutztruppe was the official name of the colonial troops in the African territories of the German colonial empire from the late 19th century to 1918. Similar to other colonial armies, the Schutztruppen consisted of volunteer European commissioned and non-commissioned officers, medical and veterinary officers. Most enlisted ranks were generally recruited locally.
Chief Mkwavinyika Munyigumba Mwamuyinga, more commonly known as Chief Mkwawa, was a Hehe tribal leader in German East Africa who opposed the German colonization. The name "Mkwawa" is derived from Mukwava, itself a shortened form of Mukwavinyika, meaning "conqueror of many lands".
The Battle of Tanga, sometimes also known as the Battle of the Bees, was the unsuccessful attack by the British Indian Expeditionary Force "B" under Major General A.E. Aitken to capture German East Africa during the First World War in concert with the invasion Force "C" near Longido on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. It was the first major event of the war in Eastern Africa and saw the British defeated by a significantly smaller force of German Askaris and colonial volunteers under Lieutenant Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. It was the beginning of the East African Campaign of World War I, and is considered as one of greatest victories of the Schutztruppe in Africa. The British retreat enabled the Schutztruppe to salvage modern equipment, medical supplies, tents, blankets, food and a number of Maxim Machine Guns which allowed them to successfully resist the allies for the rest of the War.
Kasanga, known as Bismarckburg during the German colonial rule, is a town in Rukwa Region, Tanzania. It is located at around, on the shore of Lake Tanganyika, 810 m above sea level.
Gustav Adolf Graf von Götzen was a German explorer and Governor of German East Africa. He came to Rwanda in 1894 at the head of a troop of 620 soldiers, becoming the second European to set foot in Rwanda, after Oscar Baumann, and later became the first European to cross the length of Rwanda. Götzen was the first governor of German East Africa.
The African Theatre of World War I describes campaigns in North Africa instigated by the German and Ottoman empires, local rebellions against European colonial rule and Allied campaigns against the German colonies of Kamerun, Togoland, German South West Africa and German East Africa which were fought by German Schutztruppe, local resistance movements and forces of the British Empire, France, Italy, Belgium and Portugal.
The East African Campaign in World War I was a series of battles and guerrilla actions, which started in German East Africa (GEA) and spread to portions of Portuguese Mozambique, Northern Rhodesia, British East Africa, the Uganda Protectorate, and the Belgian Congo. The campaign all but ended in November 1917 when the Germans entered Portuguese Mozambique and continued the campaign living off Portuguese supplies.
Akida was a title of indigenous rural officials in Tanganyika. At the time of the Zanzibar Sultanate, they acted as commanders of military divisions, and needed the approval of the sultan. During the German East African rule, the Germans adopted the title from pre-colonial Zanzibar-based administration, investing it with greater power. Under German rule, akidas ruled over so-called Akidate, an intermediate level of government between regional governors and minor countryside chiefs and functioned as tax collectors, policemen, and lower judges. Their judicial role was recognized under the British colonial administration which took over from Germany following World War I.
Tanganyika was a territory administered by the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1961. The UK initially administered the territory as an occupying power with the Royal Navy and British Indian infantry seizing the territory from the Germans in 1916. From 20 July 1922, British administration was formalised by Tanganyika being created a British League of Nations mandate. From 1946, it was administered by the UK as a United Nations trust territory.
The Battle of Kisaki was a confrontation between German and South Africa forces near the town of Kisaki, German East Africa, on 7–11 September 1916.
Die Reiter von Deutsch-Ostafrika is a 1934 German film directed by Herbert Selpin.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Heinrich Albert Schnee was a German lawyer, colonial civil servant, politician, writer, and association official. He served as the last Governor of German East Africa.
Bayume Mohamed Husen was the son of a former askari officer and served together with his father in World War I with German colonial troops in East Africa. Later, he worked as a waiter on a German shipping line and was able to move to Germany in 1929. He married and started a family in January 1933. Husen supported the German neo-colonialist movement and contributed to the Deutsche Afrika-Schau, a former human zoo used by Nazi political propagandists. Husen worked as a waiter and in various minor jobs in language tutoring and in smaller roles in various Africa-related German film productions. In 1941, he was imprisoned in the KZ Sachsenhausen, where he died in 1944. His Afro-German life was the subject of a 2007 biography and a 2014 documentary film.
Theodor von Hassel was a German officer and a farmer in East Africa. He was also noted as an enthusiastic hunter of elephants.
The Tabora Offensive was an Anglo-Belgian offensive into German East Africa, which ended with the Battle of Tabora in the north-west of German East Africa, it was part of the East African Campaign in World War I. The forces of the Belgian Congo crossed the border with German East Africa and captured the port city of Kigoma and the city of Tabora. In August a smaller Lake Force under the command of the South African brigadier general Crewe, launched a parallel attack from Uganda, also aimed at taking Tabora. The completion of the Tabora Offensive not only left much of the Ruanda-Urundi territory under Belgian military occupation but gave the Allies control of the important Tanganjikabahn railway.
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