German colonial empire

The German colonial empire (German: Deutsches Kolonialreich) constituted the overseas colonies, dependencies and territories of Imperial Germany. Unified in the early 1870s, the chancellor of this time period was Otto von Bismarck. Short-lived attempts at 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 uncolonized areas of Africa, Germany built the third-largest colonial empire at the time, after the British and French.[2] The German Colonial Empire encompassed parts of several African countries, including parts of present-day Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Namibia, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, New Guinea, and numerous other West Pacific / Micronesian islands.

German Colonial Empire
Deutsches Kolonialreich
Coat of arms
German colonies and protectorates in 1914
StatusColonial empire
Common languagesGerman

Swahili, Arabic (East African colonies)
Oshiwambo, Afrikaans (South West Africa)
Bantu (Togoland and Cameroon)

Tsingtao Chinese and Mandarin Chinese (Tianjin and Kiautschou Bay)
Papuan languages (German New Guinea)
Samoan (German Samoa)
1912[1] (not including Imperial Germany proper)2,658,161 km2 (1,026,322 sq mi)
An East African Askari soldier holding Germany's colonial flag

Germany lost control of its colonial empire when the First World War began in 1914, in which all of its colonies were invaded by the Allies during the first weeks of the war. However, a few colonial military units held out in remote areas for a while longer: German South West Africa surrendered in 1915, Kamerun in 1916 and German East Africa in 1918.

Germany's colonial empire was officially confiscated with the Treaty of Versailles after Germany's defeat in the war and each colony became a League of Nations mandate under the supervision (but not ownership) of one of the victorious powers. The German colonial empire ceased to exist in 1919.[3] Plans to regain their lost colonial possessions persisted through the Second World War, with many at the time suspecting that this was a goal of the Third Reich all along.[4]