The conference of Congo

Zeitgenössische Zeichnung der Konferenzteilnehmer
contemporary design of the conference participants

the conference of Congo found of 15. November 1884 up to 26. February 1885 on invitation by realm chancellor Bismarck in Berlin instead of. It is therefore, called particularly in the English linguistic area, also citizen of Berlin conference (not to confound with the citizen of Berlin congress 1878). Its conclusion document, the Congo document, formed the basis for the allocation of Africa in colonies.

Table of contents

the early colonial age

since “discovery” - the travels15. Century first Portugal and Spain, also France and Great Britain, occasionally even in possession had later taken Brandenburg, bases at the coasts of Africa as well as pre-aged islands. These served mainly the trade, in particular with slaves, in addition, with ivory, tropical woodand other products of Africa. Raids in the inside of Africa were undertaken none, Africa remained the “dark continent “in the heads of the Europeans.

The tropical areas of Africa had become by the invention of the steam engine economically more uninteresting for Europe, there the slavery unattractive and thatSlave trade in consequence was fought. With increasing industrialization however plant fats became interesting such as peanut cores and Palmöl the soap production.

After the loss of the American colonies the British began to look around beside Australia for other new areas. Mungo park was 1795 first of the one in the process of the 19. Century ever larger number of European Africa researchers, who explored the inside of the continent. Most researchers had scientific goals, these with economic and political interests of their clients were later connected.

The first Kolonialisierungsversuche began in the moderate areas in the south and the north. In the cape countrysince 1652 Netherlands settlers had established itself, those after the occupation of the country by Great Britain (1806, 1815 finally British) in the interior evaded (large Treck 1835). In the north France occupied 1830 Algeria and brought the country to a large extent until 1857 under its control. Also Algeriabecame settlement colony for Europeans.

In Liberia developed 1822 a settlement colony of released US-American slaves, whom 1847 assembled as state. In South Africa 1843, 1852 and 1854 the Burenstaaten Natal, Transvaal and Oranje Free State were created. Inside Africa numerous new formed under European influenceRealms, which were usually governed in west Africa by Islamic dynasties.1859 to 1869 the Sueskanal were built and moved East Africa close thereby more near at Europe.

prehistory of the conference

at the beginning of the 1880er years increased the European interest in Africa strongly. Henry MortonStanley had eliminated the last large white mark of the map of Africa with the study of the Congo basin 1874 to 1877. 1878 it became by Leopold II. invited, the king of Belgium, that already 1876 an international African society based, those the study and civilization of Africathe goal had. 1878 the international Congo company were created, which should pursue economic goals, with which international African society were however closely linked. Leopold bought up the strange portions of the Congo company secretly, the philanthropische African society served mainly for the lamination of the imperialistic goals of the Congo company.

From 1879 to 1884 Stanley traveled again to the Congo, this time not as a reporter, but as an envoy Leopolds with the secret order to organize the Congo state. At the same time the French naval officer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza traveled in the western Congo basin and hisste in the again created Brazzaville 1881 the French flag. Portugal, which likewise deduced requirements on the area from old contracts with the native Congo realm, closed to 26. February 1884 with Great Britain a contract, which planned, to block to the Congo company the entrance to the Atlantic.

At the same time several European states penetratedto Africa forwards and it began the “race around Africa “: France occupied 1881 Tunesien and the today's Republic of the Congo, 1884 Guinea, Great Britain occupied 1882 the remaining nominal osmanisch Egypt, which had prevailed again over the Sudan and parts of Somalia. Italytook 1870 and 1882 first parts of Eritreas in possession. Germany subordinated 1884 Togo, Cameroon and southwest Africa to its protection.

the conference

Leopold II. it succeeded to convince France and Germany of the fact that common acting was in Africa in its interest. Otto von Bismarck, the German realm Reich, appointed the representatives of the USA, Turkey and European powers Austria Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain and Sweden - Norway (to 1905 personnel union)to a conference in Berlin together.

The conference stepped to 15. November 1884 together. Stanley participated as technical advisors of the American delegation, had however little influence. The conference ended to 26. February 1885 with the signing of the Congo document by the states involved. Leopold II.a large triumph had obtained, since he got his private state. The Congo, the raw material-richest area of Africa, had changed over not into the possession of a great power, but at Belgium, which was for the European continental politics hardly of importance. In addition it had turned out that the interests of England andOf France which the colonial policy concerns were incompatible with one another. Bismarck had worked satisfactorily once more than “honest broker”, its interest in the colonial policy remained dominated by considerations relating to domestic affairs and European.

the Congo document

the Congo document regulated the following points:


Kolonien in Afrika (1913)

the race by Africa increased in speed. Within fewer years Africa was divided south the seeing era at least nominal, to 1895 was beside Abessinien (Ethiopia) only the settlement colonies Liberia, Oranje Free State and Transvaal independent.The largest part of the seeing era became French, the Sudan after striking down the Mahdi rebellion and the settlement of the Faschodakrise British-Egyptian Kondominium.

The Burenstaaten was conquered in the Burenkrieg 1899 to 1902 by Great Britain. France and Spain divided Morocco 1911, Libya became 1912 ofItaly conquers. The official Annexion Egypt 1914 locked the colonial allocation of Africa. Except Liberia and Ethiopia completely Africa stood under European rule.


  • Helmut Bley: Artificial border, natural Africa? Around the citizens of Berlin the conference of Congo of 1884-1885 a great deal myths climb. In: iz3w(Information center 3. World) 282 (January/February 2005), S. 280-283.

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