GERMAN COLONIZATION AND THE COLONIAL PROBLEM OF THE 1930's
IN some respects the colonial activities of Germany have been very different from those of Britain, France, Holland and Portugal. The maritime States of Western Europe have been engaged in imperial expansion since the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Their overseas empires have played an important part in their political, economic and social development. On the other hand, Germany-- like Italy and Belgium--did not acquire overseas possessions until the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The possession of a colonial empire did not have that profound influence upon the national life of modern Germany that it has long had in this country.
If colonies are defined as overseas regions of settlement and commercial exploitation under the political sovereignty of the Mother Country the period of German colonization covers little more than thirty years and is no more than a brief episode in German history. But this is a narrow definition. Settlement, economic exploitation and political sovereignty are important aspects of colonization, but they are not necessarily found together. As Schmitthenner remarks, 'there are colonies which are territorially contiguous with the Mother Country, and there are colonial activities without the flag. Colonization does not emanate from the State alone but from the colonizing activities of the race.' From this point of view the Germans are a colonizing people with centuries of experience. They have traditions of settlement, missionary work and commercial activity which go back far beyond the short-lived colonial empire of 1884-1919.
In the Middle Ages three great movements of German pioneer settlement on the Continent at the expense of various Slav peoples deserve notice; the first to the south-east down the Danube valley, the second in the fertile plains of the Elbe and Oder, and the third along the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic. In all three movements the ambitions of princes and warriors were combined with the more prosaic activities of traders, farmers and missionaries. To these regions of central and eastern Europe the Germans brought a higher culture than they had previously known, and there was considerable development of agriculture, mining and commerce.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Studies in German Colonial History. Contributors: W. O. Henderson - Author. Publisher: Quadrangle Books. Place of publication: Chicago. Publication year: 1962. Page number: 112.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.