First World War in the colonies

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Chris Dale
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First World War in the colonies

Post by Chris Dale » 06 Mar 2007 04:50

It has sometimes beeen said that the First World War in the colonies had no effect on the eventual outcome and overall strategy of the war as a whole. I'd like to hear what other readers think on this topic?


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Post by Utrecht » 06 Mar 2007 14:15

I agree with that.

Africa was a matter of secondary importance. It didn't influence the War as a whole. It has been said that Von Lettow attracted Britsh soldiers who now had to fight in Africa in stead of Europa, where they were needed harder. That's not true. The fighting on British side was for a big part done bij African troops and South-Africans. It was never considered to send these troops to Europe (other South Africans were send to the westfront, I know).

I also think the future of the colonies depended totally on the outcome of the war in Europe and not on the situation in Africa.

What if Germany had won the war? They surely had demanded their colonies back, although they didn't any longer posess any territory.

Interesting is to note that the purpose of the Germans in Africa was to keep a substantial part of territory in possession to strenghten a claim on their colonies after the war. I think even if they had succeeded in this, the Allies had required that the Germans should give up all their colonies.

Less time, much typing: hope you understand my English.

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Post by stulev » 06 Mar 2007 14:33

Can someone tell me why the German Pacific Islands were demilitarized except for the small German led native police force. -- I do not think that any other colonies had no military force.

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Post by Seesoldat » 07 Mar 2007 08:10

The Reichstag was responsible for the financial resources of the colonies. And because this was one of the few possibilities to show its power, they limited the financial resources for the overseas activities. As a result of this the military forces in the colonies were restricted.

Further on the military doctrine was based on the following aspects:
- war would be decided in Europe
-> the military must be concentrated where the decision will be
- war would last very short
-> the military forces must fight the short time until German victory in Europe

Both reasons led to small forces in German Oversea Territories.

As far as the influence on WWI as a whole concerns, I believe that the German possessions had only in the beginning of the war the effect of being a possible base for German naval forces. In reality only German naval forces (whithout possible bases) were able to build up a kind of delaying enemy operations (cruisers SMSS Emden and Königsberg on Australian and Indian Forces and the East Asia Squadron).


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Post by stulev » 07 Mar 2007 14:11

Thank you for the info -- even if Germany had forces in the islands - they could not hold out for long - the forces in China were overwhelmed with ease by Japanese and others of the Allies.

The SMS Emden and the East Asia cruiser squadron at the start of the war had the Australians (acting for Britain) vary worried - even though the British lost at Colonial(off Chile) the fear in Australia was less and the major disruption in the Pacific would happen.

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