German East Africa

protected area German East Africa
Die Fahne Deutsch-Ostafrikas Das Wappen Deutsch-Ostafrikas
capture 1885
seat of the government Bagamayo, late it Salaam
surface 995,000 km ²
number of inhabitants of 7.700.000 (conditions 1913)
German inhabitants 4100
currency 1 Rupie = 64 Pesa, starting from 1905 1 Rupie = 100 Heller
today's States of Tanzania


German East Africa is the designation of a former German colony in the time of 1885 to 1918. The area covered the today's countries Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. It was the largest and most densely populated colony of the German Reich.

Table of contents

appropriation of the country and development until 1904

into the 1880er years became loud in Germany voices, which demanded an intensified colonial policy. Realm chancellor Otto von Bismarck rejected this at the beginning, since he concentrated mostly with regard to foreign policy on Europe. But the increasing social and economic problems forced the German Reich to acting. Thus allegedly new sales markets, which would bring in already large wealth for other European colonial powers, were missing to the economy. Dominant business circles expected an attenuation of the erstarkenden workers' movement by an emigration campaign with a goal of the settlement one „German India “in overseas, where there would be allegedly shining growth prospects. This idea fell on fruitful soil in nationalistic gesinnten circles of the middle class and the aristocracy.

Driving Kraft with the Kolonialisierung of Africa was the minister son Carl Peter, who received the task in the society for German Kolonisation, created by him to take areas in Africa in possession. To 10. November 1884 arrived Peter at Sansibar . It traveled camouflaged, since its project should remain undiscovered opposite the British.

A little later the first „protection contracts were locked “on the mainland, which affirmed the requirement of the colony sowing ion company on the country, whose actual sense was mostly not understood about the signing chieftains however. To 27. February 1885 gave emperors Wilhelm I. a charter out, which legitimized the occupation of eastAfrican areas. The German East Africa niche society under the direction of Carl Peter, renamed in the meantime, had now also the support of the German Reich and could the annexations further advance. In the same year the Sultanate of Witu turned out in German possession. Peter succeeded it in the future to acquire large territories for Germany. So it could win 1887 the coastal region from Umba to the Rovuma for itself.

Historical map (around 1888)

1888 came it to the rebellion of a majority of the Arab coined/shaped coastal population under the slave trader Buschiri is Salim of Tanga in the north to Lindi in the south against the German appropriation and of this imposed prohibition of the slave trade (the so-called Arab rebellion). The Black African population stood in this conflict by the majority on side of the Germans, since she had to suffer up to the appearance of the Europeans much from the Arab slave trade. To 3. February 1889 to the realm commissioner appointed and at point of a again formed „colonial force “standing Hermann of pointing man succeeded it to strike down the revolt. The troop standing under guidance of German officers consisted first mainly of landstrange African mercenaries (Askari), usually Sudanesen. The rebellion leader Buschiri is Salim became to 15. December 1889 executed. The Arab slave trade, whose center was in East Africa the Sultanate of Sansibar, stopped.

At the 1. July 1890 was locked the Helgoland Sansibar contract between Germany and Great Britain. The contract regulated the delivery of the North Sea island Helgoland and the Caprivi Zipfels (today Namibia) to the German Reich, during Witu country (today part of Kenya) and the requirements on Sansibar were surrendered to Great Britain. 1891 were subordinated German East Africa as „protected area “officially to the administration by the German Reich, and the soldiers of pointing man received the official designation colonial force. First civil governor was 1891-93 Julius baron von Soden. It followed 1893-95 Friedrich of Schele, which stated a punitive expedition after arguments with the Massai 1894 against the Wahehe and which fortress Kuironga of chieftain Mkwawa could conquer. Carl Peter was appointed 1891 the realm commissioner, but due to of cruelty reproaches 1897 again dismisses. It came to further collections against the colonial administration, which from 1897 to 1901 Eduard von Liebert managed as a governor. The rebellion of the powerful Wahehe - people in the south of the protected area one struck down until 1898.

In 20. Century strengthened one the agricultural development, by one the india rubber - and cultivation of cotton introduced. Many indigenous labor was drawn in for it to the hard labour and loaded additionally still by high tax deliveries.

the Maji Maji rebellion

ways of increasing repressive measures, the increase of the taxes and particularly the introduction of the Dorfschamben in such a way specified (cotton fields, on which the inhabitants of a village were forced to the work) broke 1905 off the Maji Maji rebellion . First unrests occurred in the second July half in the Matumbi - mountains, west the coastal town Kilwa. The German colonial administration in Daressalam hoped at this time still that it concerned thereby a locally limited event. This estimate of the governor Gustav Adolf count von Götzen should itself however at the latest to 15. August as completely missed prove, when conquered the insurgent military posts of Liwale. The resistance against colonial rule accepted thereby for the Germans finally threatening extents.

The special danger for the colonial administration lay in the structure of the resistance, which spread fast over ethnical and political borders away. Within fewer weeks and months followed different black groups of peoples of the rebellion movement. This was made possible particularly by the Maji cult, which encountered traditional myths taking up in different areas resonance. The prophet Kinjikitile Ngwale preached the resistance against the Germans and common its message by „holy of water “(water = Maji) as a kind medicine. The Maji should protect the insurgent ones in the fight, by being supposed to transform the hostile rifle bullets to water drops. Integrative Kraft of the Maji cult found its high point in the storm on the Boma (fastened station) of Mahenge to 30. August 1905, when scarcely 4000 natives attacked the German post, which was defended of approximately 80 men colonial force and 200 men loyalen native. In the machine gun fire the Maji malfunctioned however its effect and the aggressors suffered devastating losses.

The setback of Mahenge did not mean however yet the end of the expansion of rebellion. Further groups followed the movement and in such a way controlled the insurgent ones in October about half of the colony. In the consequence of the involving heavy losses open field battles the insurgent ones were shifted nevertheless soon on the guidance of a guerilla war against the Germans, that itself, even if without past spreading co-operation until 1907 continued.

Starting from 1906 the Germans resisted the Guerilla - tactics of the insurgent with one „strategy of the burned earth “. Villages were burned destroyed, harvests and supplies, filled up wells and taken member of the ringleaders in „kinship detention “, in order to extract the insurgent basis for warfare. In addition, the consequence was a devastating hunger disaster, which depopulated whole regions and which lastingly changed the social structures of the African society. The losses on sides of the insurgent ones become today estimated on 100.000 to 300,000 persons. On the opposite side 15 Europeans and 389 African soldiers died. The number of German soldiers in the colony (without African Askari) never lay during the entire rebellion over 1000 men (beside the colonial force still crew members of German warships as „land soldiers “to the employment as well as war kriegfreiwillige civilians, under it a number of not-German white, mostly British and South Africans came). Reichstag in Berlin no additional means wanted to grant for thrashing the rebellion, since the colony in contrast to as „settlement colony “carried intended German southwest Africa „“had.

The procedures in East Africa were noticed for different reasons in the German Reich hardly and stood and/or. stand until today in the shade of the war in German southwest Africa. In order to secure the stability of the colony, the rule system was defused after the end of the war under the new governor Rechenberg. The reform measures failed however to a large extent because of the resistance of the white settlers. There was no considerable resistance nevertheless up to the end of the German rule in East Africa more.

the First World War

see also: The First World War at colonial scenes.

In German East Africa scarcely 300 German soldiers were stationed as well as over 4.500 native Askaris at the beginning of the First World War. Contrary to the other natives the Askaris of the German colonial force was faithfully devoted, and represented thus for each enemy a serious opponent. In the course of the war the army on 3.500 German soldiers and 13,000 Askaris was supplemented. The colonial force stood Paul von Lettow Vorbeck under the instruction of lieutenant colonel ( late general).

Paul von Lettow Vorbeck

to 2. August 1914 received the governor Dr. Heinrich Albert Schnee the message of the German mobilization in Europe. The state of war he explained only to 5. August, when the declaration of war of Great Britain took place to the German Reich. The colony was almost exclusively enclosed of over-powerful opponents; however the British had over 130.000 soldiers quantities. The first attacks took place from the British cruiser Pegasus, to 8. August the radio station of the city Daressalam under bombardment took. To 23. August succeeded to it the destruction of the station. Short time was sunk later the British ship by the cruiser king mountain. Thereupon 15 cut to. August 1914 the German troops the telegraph lines, the Tanganyika lake along-led and bombarded the adjacent cities. To 22. August opened a German ship the fire on the port Lukugas (the Belgian Congo).

To 2. November began the battle with Tanga with the landing 8000 men strong British corps under the instruction of general Arthur Aitken. Paul von Lettow Vorbeck had concentrated and applied his main armed force at the Kilimandscharo immediately toward Tanga. In the early morning hours 4. November began Lettow Vorbecks armed force with the relief attack on the port, whereby the British had to accept a sensitive defeat and on the day after withdrew themselves. They left a considerable quantity of war material and communication equipment, with which now the colonial force could be equipped. Further attacks of the British and Belgians, among other things at the Kilimandscharo, were successfully repelled.

The British tried to take beginning of the yearly 1915 for the second time Tanga, which failed however again because of the violent resistance of the defenders. To 10. April arrived the German supply ship Rubens with a large number of material and soldier. At the 11. July was so strongly damaged those king mountain with sea-combat that one decided itself to blow up it.

All following attacks of the allied ones were struck back by the colonial force. The force equilibrium with the fights at the Viktoriasee remained the whole year over balanced.

1916 tilted the situation in the colony, when the British general Smuts introduced a large offensive and the Germans had to withdraw themselves from the area of the Kilimandscharo. Likewise in this war year a second supply ship arrived, which could break through unnoticed the allied blockade.

Up to 17. September could hold itself the city Tabora, until it was finally run over by the British. Two days later marched Portuguese troops into German East Africa. The Portuguese were however less successful and were struck back.

To 21. November 1917 started the German airship LZ 104/L 59 from Bulgaria toward East Africa. The commander of the airship, captain second lieutenant Bockholdt, had loaded ammunition and rifles. By a falsified radiogram of the British the commander turned briefly before the goal. The colonial force had to be content thus further with captured material. The supremacy of the enemy was in the meantime so strong that Lettow Vorbeck had to evade into the Portuguese part of East Africa.

In September 1918 the colonial force marched own area. It had put back and could a way of over 2500 km, by allied war material over water hold itself. In November it came then to some last engagements.

To 13. November experienced Lettow Vorbeck of the surrender of the German Reich, on which it itself to 25. November resulted in. The remaining German officers thereupon in Daressalam meets. 1919 was allowed to return it to Germany.

the Versailler contract

of the Versailler contract determined that Germany had to deliver all colonies. German East Africa became to 20. January 1920 of the administration of the Völkerbundes subordinates. The mandates over the country were awarded Belgium (control of Burundi and Rwanda) and Great Britain (Tanganjika). In the south the Kionga triangle fell at Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique).


  • Norbert carrion, Werena Rosenke (Hg.): Colonial history in the family album. Early photos from the colony German East Africa. ISBN 392830013X
  • Detlef soon: German East Africa 1900 - 1914: a study of administration, groups of interests and economic development. Munich, world forum publishing house 1970
  • Fritz Ferdinand Mueller: Germany - Zanzibar - East Africa: History of a German colonial conquest 1884 - 1890; with 14 illustrations and 6 maps. 1. Aufl. - Berlin, Rütten & Loening 1959
  • Rainer Tetzlaff: Colonial development and exploitation: Economics and social history Dt. - East Africa 1885 - 1914 Berlin, Duncker [and] Humblot 1970
  • Martin bear, Olaf Schröter: A head hunt. German in East Africa Berlin, Christoph on the left of publishing house 2001
  • Felicitas Becker, Jigal Beez: The Maji Maji war in German East Africa 1905 - 1907 Berlin, CH. On the left of publishing house 2005

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