From the Boxer Rebellion to Tsingtao to German East Africa (Tanzania), and colonies across Africa and the central Pacific, the Kaiser's Second Reich created a worldwide empire, and then lost it.
Following Prussia's victory over France in 1871 and German
unification, the invigorated Second Reich sought international
status alongside the older colonial powers - Britain, France, Spain
and Russia. Actual overseas settlement was always sparse, counted
in the low tens of thousands only, but by the mid-1880s German
trading companies had established footholds in what became German
East Africa (Tanzania), German South-West Africa (Namibia), and
German West Africa (Cameroon, and Togo). To consolidate their
position against native resistance, and to extend their frontiers,
the German Imperial government soon took over these enclaves as
colonies or 'protectorates'. In the 1890s it established a new
branch of the armed forces, the Schutztruppe, composed largely of
African askaris with German officers and NCOs, backed up by German
artillery and machine guns. In parallel, the Imperial Navy raised
marine battalions - eventually, three Seebataillone - to protect
its overseas bases and to reinforce the colonies as needed. After
German participation in putting down the Boxer Rebellion (1900)
their primary responsibility was the German concession territory at
Tsingtao in China, where Germany also raised a local East Asia
Brigade; but the marines also served in the German Pacific
possessions - Samoa, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the
Northern Solomon Islands, the Marshalls, Marianas and Carolines.
Marine companies were also rotated through the African colonies at
need. In addition to small-scale 'police' work, the brief German
colonial period involved putting down rebellions in East Africa
(1888-98) and Cameroon, and crushing - with great ruthlessness -
the determined resistance of the Herero and Nama tribes in SW
Africa (1890-1907), where there was a degree of German settlement.
In World War I, Germany soon lost almost all her colonies to much
stronger Allied forces. In China, Tsingtao was captured late in
1914 by a Japanese force with token British assistance. Resistance
was minimal in the Pacific; and in 1915 the last defenders of
German South-West Africa surrendered to South African forces.
However, in East Africa the Schutztruppe, commanded by the very
able Col (later MajGen) Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, fought a skillful
mobile war against much larger British and Empire forces, and were
the very last German troops to surrender in November 1918.
Meanwhile, the Navy's marine infantry branch had been enlarged,
forming first one, then two Marine Divisions, which fought on the
Western Front - including the Ypres and Somme sectors - throughout
the war. Featuring specially drawn full-colour artwork, this book
tells the story of Imperial Germany's colonial and overseas troops,
who fought in a host of environments including China, Africa, and
the Western Front of World War I.