Could the German Empire "keep" africa if they win WWI?

Could the German Empire keep it's african land if it won WWI?

  • The German Empire would keep german africa and try to integrate it like Portugal tried

    Votes: 14 11.3%
  • The German Empire would keep german africa as colonies indefinitively

    Votes: 11 8.9%
  • The German Empire would decolonize but retain control like France did in our timeline

    Votes: 47 37.9%
  • The German Empire would pull out eventually, except from Namibia

    Votes: 24 19.4%
  • The German Empire would pull out of all Africa

    Votes: 21 16.9%
  • Other (explain)

    Votes: 7 5.6%

  • Total voters
    124
What British colonies are there today are comparable? The Caribbean islands BOST are so small and would have difficulty with self sufficiency so would not have the same dynamic as a Land polity, like Namibia, etc.

What I meant they’re virtually independent. Some German colonies, regardless the size, could follow this path as well. Keep ties with the metropole for whatever the reason while having full internal autonomy.

I could see Namibia following the French way, becoming integral part of Germany.
 
Yes, German colonial history is particularly brutal and amidst one of the worst period where racism got scientific justification. That's why I said I was optimistic, hoping attitudes, specifically German ones, to improve.
Remember, for colonial administration to become in any way 'good,' you needs two things to happen at once.

First, you need racial attitudes to become civilized instead of the vicious barbaric horrorshow that characterized almost all European thought on non-Europeans (and other 'less white' Europeans) up through World War Two.

But second, importantly, you need the colonial power to actually decide to be humane and not exploitative or cruel. German military-administrative culture was, frankly, not good at this. The German army and the Prussian army it took its cues from never really got past the idea that nobody should ever resist or obstruct them, and that they were entitled to react to any resistance by freaking out and unleashing Schrecklichkeit on anyone in the vicinity who they thought might be responsible. We see this from what happened in Belgium, where numerous atrocities were committed in response to what so far as we can determine was no civilian resistance, or resistance so light and spotty that it was entirely undocumented.

And this is what they did to white people.

Until and unless the German military and administration learned to fundamentally accept the idea that people who oppose them had a right to exist and could not simply be machine-gunned as a warning to the others, there would be no possibility of good German colonial rule. And accepting that idea creates some conflicts within the Kaiserreich's military-administrative culture, because it bumps up against other ideas about the absolute nature of authority and the level of discipline expected by the citizenry.

About British, French, American colonies, I meant precisely that: to cover all range of possibilities, from colony with full internal independence (current British ones, Aruba, Greenland), with low autonomy (Hong Kong), absorbed into the metropole (Hawaii, French ones) and Puerto Rico, New Caledonia types. German colonies lasting till this day could follow any of those models or even new ones.
Hawaii got absorbed into the metropole because the US actually has a model for absorbing colonized territories into the metropole; European powers did not. I think it very likely that the German colonies would end up independent along with the others, typically about a few years or so after the Germans realized that they were no longer willing to murder 200,000 people if that was the price of retaining "control" of a blob of land on another continent.
 
Remember, for colonial administration to become in any way 'good,' you needs two things to happen at once.

First, you need racial attitudes to become civilized instead of the vicious barbaric horrorshow that characterized almost all European thought on non-Europeans (and other 'less white' Europeans) up through World War Two.

But second, importantly, you need the colonial power to actually decide to be humane and not exploitative or cruel. German military-administrative culture was, frankly, not good at this. The German army and the Prussian army it took its cues from never really got past the idea that nobody should ever resist or obstruct them, and that they were entitled to react to any resistance by freaking out and unleashing Schrecklichkeit on anyone in the vicinity who they thought might be responsible. We see this from what happened in Belgium, where numerous atrocities were committed in response to what so far as we can determine was no civilian resistance, or resistance so light and spotty that it was entirely undocumented.

And this is what they did to white people.

Until and unless the German military and administration learned to fundamentally accept the idea that people who oppose them had a right to exist and could not simply be machine-gunned as a warning to the others, there would be no possibility of good German colonial rule. And accepting that idea creates some conflicts within the Kaiserreich's military-administrative culture, because it bumps up against other ideas about the absolute nature of authority and the level of discipline expected by the citizenry.

Indeed. Attitudes must change, dramatic. In OTL Germany, they got actually even worse with Nazism. However, they could have changed for the best as well (after WWII). In this ATL, German society could evolve in different ways, with new fashions coming and going.

Hawaii got absorbed into the metropole because the US actually has a model for absorbing colonized territories into the metropole; European powers did not. I think it very likely that the German colonies would end up independent along with the others, typically about a few years or so after the Germans realized that they were no longer willing to murder 200,000 people if that was the price of retaining "control" of a blob of land on another continent.

Here I don't agree decolonization is an inevitable process. In OTL, it was, but in this one, with such POD, things could go in any direction. Populations won't necessarily rebel against an empire or an authoritarian regime. Even in OTL we have examples of those two.

About absorption, OTL Britain didn't have a path (although almost had with Malta), others did. Russia, France, Portugal and Germany could do it as well. They could even develop different models for each colony.
 
Has anyone pointed out the implications to the German Call Centre industry?

Unlike almost everyone else if a modern German calls the customer helpline they can be assured with near complete certainty that the person on the line will not only be a native speaker, but actually somewhere in the country.
 
It's very hard to imagine how Germany could comprehensively defeat the British Empire. Germany could thoroughly defeat France & make it difficult for the British to continue & thereby win the war. I think the relationship between the UK & the dominions is best seen like the relationship between Mum (or Dad) & teenagers. Mainly the kids accept Mum's advice & Mum gets her way. Sometimes the issue is really important to the teenager & they won't listen to Mum. South Africa won't listen to London over SW Afrika & Australia & NZ won't listen to London over New Guinea, Nauru & Samoa. So the obvious compromise is to strip French & Belgian colonies so Germany can have an expanded empire, whilst conceding Namibia & the Pacific.
 
It's very hard to imagine how Germany could comprehensively defeat the British Empire. Germany could thoroughly defeat France & make it difficult for the British to continue & thereby win the war.

They can't defeat the Empire. What they can do is defeat the BEF, ensure the British have no path to victory over Germany and hold territory that represents the most dire threat to Britain's long term security, in particular the French Channel coast ports. In such a case it is Britain's interest to make a deal to bribe Germany away from the Channel ports, it's better to lose colonies than to have the worlds second largest navy and most powerful Army stations 21 miles from your shores.
 
Here I don't agree decolonization is an inevitable process. In OTL, it was, but in this one, with such POD, things could go in any direction. Populations won't necessarily rebel against an empire or an authoritarian regime. Even in OTL we have examples of those two.
The problem isn't just a matter of authoritarianism.

The problem is sovereignty. Being a colonial province ruled by a governor appointed by a bunch of foreigners who live in a different freaking hemisphere is not a good condition to be in. Remember, that governor had a life and a family in the metropole before they were sent out here, and they are likely to eventually return. Their priority will be governing the colony in a way that pleases the elites back in the metropole, whose opinions and good feelings will decide their own future. Their priority will not be governing the colony in a way that is beneficial, respectful, or helpful to the citizens of the colony. That may happen by happy coincidence, and in some cases the colony and metropole's interests may align, but when the chips are down... a foreign-appointed government you have no say in will almost always prioritize its welfare over yours when there is a conflict of interest.

And since the colonial government has the full power to legislate the shape of your economy, we see very consistent policies designed to reshape the colony's economy for the benefit of the metropole. Such as deliberate de-industrialization. Such as the engineering of infrastructure to connect the mines to the ports and not much else because the colonial governor in his spiffy new pith helmet has very little reason to invest in much else. Such as favorable access to labor and land for corporations based in the metropole. And so on.

...

Now, there's a way to solve this! Give the colonies political representation in the metropole, or give them sovereignty. "Sovereignty" is the process the British took with the dominions, but... bluntly, that only proceeded smoothly because the dominions were full of white people and could lobby for a reasonable degree of legal autonomy in London and expect to be treated with respect. The idea of dominion status for India, for example, was never something Britain would credibly agree to without a major struggle, and this is a large part of why Indian self-rule movements quite sensibly focused on independence, and had good cause to do so.

Giving colonies political representation in the metropole is theoretically an alternative, but in practice was very rarely considered seriously for reasons that should be obvious on brief reflection.

I do not see a reason to think that an ATL Germany that won World War One would be uniquely and amazingly different in such a way that would enable them to square this circle. We can say "it could happen," but to me it smacks of motivated reasoning, as if history is somehow going to be "better" if Namibia is governed from Berlin rather than Windhoek.

...

Non-imperial states, even autocratic ones, don't have the same problem. China is an autocratic state, but the great majority of the country is "all metropole. Party officials and government leaders and other prominent people can come from almost any part of the country, and the nation is governed by people drawn from a mix of different parts of the country, so there is always at least some incentive to rule any given area with an eye to its actual long-term benefit, not just as an extractive pinata to hit with a stick so that gold and cash crops come out.

Now, places like Tibet and Xinjiang have the same problems that an exploited colonial province does, in that Tibetans and Uighurs and so on have basically no access to the Chinese power structure. And, lo and behold, they experience the same bad things that nearly every colonized population in history has experienced: settlers displacing them, being criminalized, run through camps, degraded, and so on.

Because this is something that happens over and over and over in far-flung empires ruled from a central metropole. It is really hard to think of a way to beat it.


They can't defeat the Empire. What they can do is defeat the BEF, ensure the British have no path to victory over Germany and hold territory that represents the most dire threat to Britain's long term security, in particular the French Channel coast ports. In such a case it is Britain's interest to make a deal to bribe Germany away from the Channel ports, it's better to lose colonies than to have the worlds second largest navy and most powerful Army stations 21 miles from your shores.
Maybe that's the theory, but it didn't work against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars 120 years earlier and it didn't work against them during World War Two twenty years later, so I'm not sure it would work in the late 1910s or early 1920s, either.

If anything, in that position as the Germans, you'd have the worst of both worlds.

You're still trying to threaten a cross-Channel attack. But unlike Napoleon, your troops rely heavily on machine guns and artillery and so cannot put up a credible offensive threat in an amphibious landing that isn't heavily supplied by sea. Twentieth century armies have orders of magnitude more ability to smash what pops up in front of them than their nineteenth century predecessors, but the price of that is needing much heavier continuous flows of supplies that cannot be replenished by pillaging the countryside.

And unlike Hitler, you don't have the advantage of a meaningful air force capable of at least giving the British defensive positions on the other side of the Channel a hard time. You have a big fleet, but to use that fleet in the Channel means bringing it into very narrow waters where smacking into a bunch of mines or unexpected torpedo attacks could put a big dent in your fleet in a hurry, and the enemy will be only too happy to exploit that dent to their advantage.

If the submarine blockade failed bring Britain down in that situation (and it didn't in real life), I'm not sure that holding the French Channel coast would do the Germans much good.
Sure, you can say "it could happen," but at some point that's just papering over the cracks in what is normally a very ugly edifice.
 
Last edited:
Why should they.
I saw some time the balance sheet of German Kameroon, it cost the German tax payer millions each year whitout a decent return most years a very negative balance.
I think this was the same not only for the German African possessions but for most African possessions. Especially those of France. I cannot see the economical benefit for this Sahara territories occupied by France.
My opinion was that nearly all European countries saw that most African possessions were a money pit, ones acquired by jingoism and national prestige, and want to get rid of it, only internal politics and international geopolitics prevent to let them go.
 
I saw some time the balance sheet of German Kameroon, it cost the German tax payer millions each year whitout a decent return most years a very negative balance.
The only bit of the German Empire in Africa that was even close to breaking even was Togoland, and that was more of an artifact of the balance sheet than anything else.

Broadly, what most likely ends up happening (presuming the Unlikely case where Germany just sort of wins in the first half of the 20th century) is something similar to French Africa in OTL, that is Germany retains chunks of land/strategically important islands as integral parts of the German Reich, and the rest of Africa is in principle decolonized, but still remains under heavy influence/suzerainty/dependence on the Metropole.
 
The problem isn't just a matter of authoritarianism.

The problem is sovereignty. Being a colonial province ruled by a governor appointed by a bunch of foreigners who live in a different freaking hemisphere is not a good condition to be in. Remember, that governor had a life and a family in the metropole before they were sent out here, and they are likely to eventually return. Their priority will be governing the colony in a way that pleases the elites back in the metropole, whose opinions and good feelings will decide their own future. Their priority will not be governing the colony in a way that is beneficial, respectful, or helpful to the citizens of the colony. That may happen by happy coincidence, and in some cases the colony and metropole's interests may align, but when the chips are down... a foreign-appointed government you have no say in will almost always prioritize its welfare over yours when there is a conflict of interest.

And since the colonial government has the full power to legislate the shape of your economy, we see very consistent policies designed to reshape the colony's economy for the benefit of the metropole. Such as deliberate de-industrialization. Such as the engineering of infrastructure to connect the mines to the ports and not much else because the colonial governor in his spiffy new pith helmet has very little reason to invest in much else. Such as favorable access to labor and land for corporations based in the metropole. And so on.

I'm not saying it's a good or bad system. I'm just saying it historically happened and still happens, even in democratic societies.

Liberal democracy is not universal and it's not a place all manking will necessarily reach it. And needless to say, despite being my favourite system, it has lots of flaws, including very bad governance in several cases. And go without saying, societies that was called democratic 100 years ago, would hardly be considered democracies by today's standards.


...

Now, there's a way to solve this! Give the colonies political representation in the metropole, or give them sovereignty. "Sovereignty" is the process the British took with the dominions, but... bluntly, that only proceeded smoothly because the dominions were full of white people and could lobby for a reasonable degree of legal autonomy in London and expect to be treated with respect. The idea of dominion status for India, for example, was never something Britain would credibly agree to without a major struggle, and this is a large part of why Indian self-rule movements quite sensibly focused on independence, and had good cause to do so.

Giving colonies political representation in the metropole is theoretically an alternative, but in practice was very rarely considered seriously for reasons that should be obvious on brief reflection.

I do not see a reason to think that an ATL Germany that won World War One would be uniquely and amazingly different in such a way that would enable them to square this circle. We can say "it could happen," but to me it smacks of motivated reasoning, as if history is somehow going to be "better" if Namibia is governed from Berlin rather than Windhoek.

...

I don't think Germany would follow that annexation path, except maybe for Namibia. But then, they could follow Hong Kong or Puerto Rico or British Virgin Islands/Cayman Islands model. There are several examples of non-sovereignty stable societies. Again, not saying they are better or worse, but they existed/exist nonetheless.

Non-imperial states, even autocratic ones, don't have the same problem. China is an autocratic state, but the great majority of the country is "all metropole. Party officials and government leaders and other prominent people can come from almost any part of the country, and the nation is governed by people drawn from a mix of different parts of the country, so there is always at least some incentive to rule any given area with an eye to its actual long-term benefit, not just as an extractive pinata to hit with a stick so that gold and cash crops come out.

Now, places like Tibet and Xinjiang have the same problems that an exploited colonial province does, in that Tibetans and Uighurs and so on have basically no access to the Chinese power structure. And, lo and behold, they experience the same bad things that nearly every colonized population in history has experienced: settlers displacing them, being criminalized, run through camps, degraded, and so on.

Because this is something that happens over and over and over in far-flung empires ruled from a central metropole. It is really hard to think of a way to beat it.

Ruled as "part of metropole" is a bit problematic as well. That hasn't saved French Algeria, for instance. US Blacks for most of 20th century were effectively colonial subjects. Ditto for apartheid South Africa.

Churchill used to talk about the imperial overseas fallacy. A metropole with overseas colonies can pretend colonial societies are also part of the metropole (e.g. Portugal) the same way theoretically USSR/Russia and China don't have colonial societies under their rule.
 
Has anyone pointed out the implications to the German Call Centre industry?

Unlike almost everyone else if a modern German calls the customer helpline they can be assured with near complete certainty that the person on the line will not only be a native speaker, but actually somewhere in the country.

It was fortunate to lose the colonies in WWI in OTL, no colonial wars and no relevant Third World population speaking German.
But that is a butterfly thing.
---
I think Germany would keep likely Nauru until the present day, unless it loses another World War.
---
In a WW1 peace settlement, Germany will demand for every single square meter colonial possession back, if only for prestige.
There might be some exchange, but the German war aims had become larger and larger pretty much every month that the war lasted.

Considering that generals tend to prepare for the last war, I assume that the colonies will get large troop contingents, fortresses, etc ...
Pre WW1 it was assumed that in case of an European war, the Colonies would not be affected, the stationed troops were for keeping the locals in check, not for waging war against other colonial powers.
That was already changing in the early 20th century (just think of that famous German lake battleship), but would get large after WW1 with Britain and Germany ( and other colonial powers) preparing for waging war
against each other in the colonies. So there will be a lot more military than in OTL.
 
case it is Britain's interest to make a deal to bribe Germany away from the Channel ports, it's better to lose colonies than to have the worlds second largest navy and most powerful Army stations 21 miles from your shores
You would see NZ-OZ turn the territories over to the USA or even Japan, before returning them to Germany, no matter what the Home Office wanted.
And I don't think SA would turn over what they had acquired, either.
That demand would break the Commonwealth.
 
One problem the Germans have is that whether they get any captured colonies back or get "new" ones if/when they get in a war with Britain the colonies are likely be knocked off again by the Royal Navy, as least thiose with sea links.

If they want colonies what they need are ones that they can run (Ottoman) railways to, say Kuwait and Aden. No white Commonwealth countries to annoy and Aden can be partitioned so the British can maintain a coaling station.

The weakness in this is that the British would be worried about the Germans cutting communications to India in a future war. That would mean matching each German cruiser/sub in the Indian Ocean with three British cruisers/ escorts.

Alternatively the British could just not sign a peace treaty with Germany. They get to keep all the colonies and no white Commonwealth countries are annoyed. After all, they don't have to sign one. The USSR and Japan have not since the end of WW2 although they have agreed to an end to hostilities.

Obviously Germany could relatiate by say putting heavy tariffs on British exports to their sphere of influence (all of Europe) but Britain could try to rely on the Commonwealth for trade. After all there is no reason for either side to be reasonable :) when they do not have to.
 
Maybe that's the theory, but it didn't work against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars 120 years earlier and it didn't work against them during World War Two twenty years later, so I'm not sure it would work in the late 1910s or early 1920s, either.

If anything, in that position as the Germans, you'd have the worst of both worlds.

You're still trying to threaten a cross-Channel attack. But unlike Napoleon, your troops rely heavily on machine guns and artillery and so cannot put up a credible offensive threat in an amphibious landing that isn't heavily supplied by sea. Twentieth century armies have orders of magnitude more ability to smash what pops up in front of them than their nineteenth century predecessors, but the price of that is needing much heavier continuous flows of supplies that cannot be replenished by pillaging the countryside.

And unlike Hitler, you don't have the advantage of a meaningful air force capable of at least giving the British defensive positions on the other side of the Channel a hard time. You have a big fleet, but to use that fleet in the Channel means bringing it into very narrow waters where smacking into a bunch of mines or unexpected torpedo attacks could put a big dent in your fleet in a hurry, and the enemy will be only too happy to exploit that dent to their advantage.

If the submarine blockade failed bring Britain down in that situation (and it didn't in real life), I'm not sure that holding the French Channel coast would do the Germans much good.
Sure, you can say "it could happen," but at some point that's just papering over the cracks in what is normally a very ugly edifice.

You're arguing for specific outcomes from a vague premise, when the specifics matter to the outcome, indeed it sounds like you're arguing that the CP didn't win at all which is what the OP specified. Why did the CP win; did they win the Race to the Sea, successfully implement their naval strategy of defeating a section of the RN in 1915, capture Riga in 1915 and Verdun in 1916? All of these, or a combination of them affects Britain in a different way by 1918.

In particular the cross channel threat isn't a short term threat, its a long-term strategic threat. While Germany can't cross the channel in 1914-18 if they hold the French Channel coast after their victory building an amphibious capability to cross the Dover Narrows is vastly easier than building one to transit the entire North Sea.
 
You would see NZ-OZ turn the territories over to the USA or even Japan, before returning them to Germany, no matter what the Home Office wanted.
And I don't think SA would turn over what they had acquired, either.
That demand would break the Commonwealth.

Breaking the Commonwealth would mean Australia, NZ and SA would have to stand on their own as independent nations, which they were not ready for in 1918.
 
Breaking the Commonwealth would mean Australia, NZ and SA would have to stand on their own as independent nations, which they were not ready for in 1918.
They could see the writing on the Wall if Britain was kowtowing to the Germans, and would be better off with an association with the US or Japan, than welcoming the demands of the Germans.
The Colonies weren't planning on Independence in 1774, either, until the Intolerable Acts were passed.
 
They could see the writing on the Wall if Britain was kowtowing to the Germans, and would be better off with an association with the US or Japan, than welcoming the demands of the Germans.
The Colonies weren't planning on Independence in 1774, either, until the Intolerable Acts were passed.

Australia in particular was fearful of Japan, so they're out as an Ally.

Was the US seeking Allies in the Pacific in 1918? Was the US such a worthy contender as an alliance partner that the Dominions would cut ties with Britain, keep the German colonies they captured in WW1, and seek alliances with the US? I have my doubts.
 
As far as I know, they lost control of their colonies (with the exception of Von Lettow Vorbeck) to British occupation early on. Even with WW1 won, Germany would be sated by continental hegemony over Europe.
I could see them getting some of their colonies back at the negotiating table. Britain would prioritize Belgium over African colonies. Namibia might be harder though because South Africa was a dominion at that point, and there would definitely be the issue of whether Westminster would have the authority to hand it over. With that being said South Africa can only defend it with the help of the rest of the empire and the UK. I suppose Westminster could offer the South Africans Botswana, Swaziland, and Lesotho to persuade them to let go of Namibia.
Japan will either tell them to go pound sand, or come and try to take them back.
Without the Royal Navy bottling up the High Seas Fleet, Germany would be more than capable of taking them back if they wished it.
 

Darzin

Banned
I don't think Namibia would be a problem. I think Germany would happily trade it for a more lucrative French colony.
 
I don't think Namibia would be a problem. I think Germany would happily trade it for a more lucrative French colony.

You are probably right. It is not much more than hostile desert. And perhaps Germans calculate that now shall natives be headache of South Africa. There was much more important places anyway.
 
Top