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Tsingtao (Qingdao)

(510 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Tsingtao (Qingdao) Administrative center of Jiaozhou, a German colony established on the northeastern coast of China in 1897. It was militarily important as the base for their East-Asia Cruiser Squadron. Unlike the other German colonies, Tsingtao was controlled by the Reich Naval Office rather than the Reich Colonial Office. Tsingtao later lost its strategic significance when the Imperial Navy transitioned from war cruisers to a battleship-fleet based doctrine. Still, the 500 km2 protectorate of Jiaozhou (Kiautschou) remained important as the economic and political…

German East Africa

(848 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
German East Africa Situated on the coast of the Indian Ocean, between Portuguese Mozambique to the south, British East Africa to the north, and the Belgian Congo to the west, German East Africa comprised the modern states of Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. Declared a territory of the German Reich in 1885, with 7.5 million inhabitants the country was the most populous German colony, and at 995,000 km2 also the largest. Some 5,300 Europeans lived in the colony in 1914. The British government decided to capture German East Africa as early as August 1914. As with t…

Sub-Saharan Africa

(719 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Sub-Saharan Africa Africa without the Arab North, and without the settler colonies in the South. Sub-Saharan Africa was both a theater of war and a source for the recruitment of soldiers and laborers during the First World War. The main areas fought over were the German colonies of Togo, Cameroon, and German East Africa, as their capture would enable the wireless stations located there to be destroyed, and their harbors neutralized as bases for the German Navy. When British and French forces occup…

Botha, Louis

(310 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Botha, Louis (September 27, 1862, Greytown, Natal – August 27, 1919, Rusthof, Pretoria), South African general and politician. Botha was perhaps the most gifted member of the Boer military and one of the leading politicians of South Africa. He demonstrated his superior tactical skills as a general in the Boer War (1899–1902). Serving as prime minister of the Transvaal from 1907, Botha worked towards reconciling the Boers and the British. From 1910 he headed the government of the newly established …

Lettow-Vorbeck, Paul von

(330 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Lettow-Vorbeck, Paul von (March 20, 1870, Saarlouis – March 9, 1964, Hamburg), German general. Lettow-Vorbeck was celebrated during the First World War as the commander of the German colonial forces in German East Africa. He began his military career in 1881. In 1900/1901 he took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China, and between 1904 and 1907 served as a captain in the war against the Herero and the Nama tribes in German Southwest Africa. As a lieutenant-colonel, Lettow-Vorbeck b…

Smuts, Jan Christiaan

(365 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Smuts, Jan Christiaan (May 24, 1870, Bovenplaats [Cape Province] – September 11, 1950, Irene [near Pretoria]), South African general and politician. Born the son of a Boer farmer, Smuts became one of the most important politicians of South Africa. Between 1899 and 1902 he served as a Boer general in the Boer War against Great Britain. In 1907 he entered the cabinet of Louis Botha in the Transvaal and also worked under him in the government of the South African Union, founded in 1910. On the outbrea…

Colonial War

(1,529 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Colonial War The war against the German colonies of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, led by the forces of Japan, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and their respective colonies. The spread of the war to the colonies was undertaken by Great Britain and France, primarily for strategic reasons. By occupying the German colonies, their respective ports would be closed to the German navy. Also, the German worldwide communications network, which depended upon the wireless stations erected there, would be dis…

German Southwest Africa

(920 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
German Southwest Africa German colony on the Atlantic coast in southern Africa between Angola to the north, South Africa to the south, and Botswana to the east; the modern Namibia. Placed under the protection of the German Reich by Bismarck in 1884, German Southwest Africa was the only German African colony suited for substantial European settlement. Accordingly, the influx of German emigrants was actively encouraged. The arbitrary attitude of the German administration towards the African population was marked by a high degree of cruelty. Thus in the war agai…