German Cameroon (German: Kamerun) was an African colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1916 in the region of today's Republic of Cameroon. German Cameroon also included northern parts of Gabon and the Congo with western parts of the Central African Republic, southwestern parts of Chad and far eastern parts of Nigeria.

German Cameroon
German colony
Flag (proposed)
Location of Kamerun
Metropolitan territory and colonies of German Empire on the eve of World War I (black). The larger German colony near Gulf of Guinea is German Cameroon. The smaller German colony near Gulf of Guinea is Togoland Protectorate.
Capital Duala
Buea (after 1910)
Languages German (official)
Basaa · Beti · Duala
Other local languages
Government Colony
 •  1884 Gustav Nachtigal
 •  1887–1906 Jesko von Puttkamer
 •  1914–1916 Karl Ebermaier
 •  Established 1884
 •  Disestablished 1916
Currency German gold mark
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Bamum
Mandara Kingdom
Kotoko kingdom
French Congo
French Cameroons
French Equatorial Africa
Today part of  Cameroon
 Central African Republic


Cameroon boundary changes
Cameroon 1901–1972
  Republic of Cameroon

19th century

The first German trading post in the Duala area (present day Douala) on the Kamerun River delta (present day Wouri River delta) was established in 1868 by the Hamburg trading company C. Woermann. The firm’s agent in Gabon, Johannes Thormählen, expanded activities to the Kamerun River delta. In 1874, together with the Woermann agent in Liberia, Wilhelm Jantzen, the two merchants founded their own company, Jantzen & Thormählen there.

Both of these West Africa houses expanded into shipping with their own sailing ships and steamers and inaugurated scheduled passenger and freight service between Hamburg, Germany and Duala.[1] These companies and others obtained extensive acreage from local chiefs and began systematic plantation operations, including bananas.

By 1884, Adolph Woermann, representing all West African companies as their spokesman, petitioned the imperial foreign office for "protection" by the German Empire. Bismarck, the Imperial Chancellor, sought to utilize the traders on site in governing the region via "chartered companies". However, in response to Bismarck’s proposal, the companies withdrew their petition.[2]

At the core of the commercial interests was pursuit of profitable trading activities under the protection of the Reich, but these entities were determined to stay away from political engagements. Eventually Bismarck yielded to the Woermann position and instructed the admiralty to dispatch a gunboat. As a show of German interest, the small gunboat SMS Möwe arrived in West Africa.[3]

Protectorate of Kamerun

The protectorate of Kamerun was established during the period generally known as Europe’s imperialist "Scramble for Africa". The German explorer, medical doctor, imperial consul and commissioner for West Africa, Gustav Nachtigal, was the driving force toward the colony’s establishment. By then well over a dozen German companies, based in Hamburg and Bremen, conducted trading and plantation activities in Kamerun.[4]

20th century

With imperial treasury subsidies, the colony built two rail lines from the port city of Duala to bring agricultural products to market: the Northern line of 160-kilometre (99 mi) to the Manenguba mountains, and the 300-kilometre (190 mi) long mainline to Makak on the river Nyong.[5] An extensive postal and telegraph system and a river navigation network with government ships connected the coast to the interior.

The Kamerun protectorate was enlarged with Neukamerun (German: New Cameroon) in 1911 as part of the settlement of the Agadir Crisis, resolved by the Treaty of Fez.

German losses

At the outbreak of World War I, French, Belgian and British troops invaded the German colony in 1914 and fully occupied it during the Kamerun campaign. The last German fort to surrender was the one at Mora in the north of the colony in 1916.

Following Germany's defeat, the Treaty of Versailles divided the territory into two League of Nations mandates (Class B) under the administration of Great Britain and France. French Cameroun and part of British Cameroons reunified in 1961 as Cameroon.

Bundesarchiv Bild 137-003056, Kamerun, Deutscher Landvermesser

German surveyor in Kamerun, 1884

Bundesarchiv Bild 163-161, Kamerun, Duala, Polizeitruppe

Police force at Duala on the Kaiser's birthday, 1901

Bundesarchiv Bild 137-034473, Kamerun, bei Tiko, Bananen-Verladung

Loading of bananas for export to Germany, 1912

See also


Flaggenentwurf 5 Deutsch Kamerun 1914
Proposed flag for Kamerun.
  1. ^ Washausen, Hamburg und die Kolonialpolitik, p. 68
  2. ^ Washausen, p. 116
  3. ^ Haupt, Deutschlands Schutzgebiete, p. 57
  4. ^ By 1911 the total volume of trade reached over 50 million gold marks [Haupt, p. 64].
  5. ^ This line was later extended to the current Cameroon capital of Yaoundé.

Bibliography and references

  • DeLancey, Mark W.; DeLancey, Mark D. (2000). Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon (3rd ed.). Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-3775-7. OCLC 43324271.
  • Gorges, E. Howard (1923). The Great War in West Africa. London: Hutchinson & Co.
  • Haupt, Werner (1984). Deutschlands Schutzgebiete in Übersee 1884–1918 [Germany’s Overseas Protectorates 1884–1918]. Friedberg: Podzun-Pallas Verlag. ISBN 3-7909-0204-7.
  • Hoffmann, Florian (2007). Okkupation und Militärverwaltung in Kamerun. Etablierung und Institutionalisierung des kolonialen Gewaltmonopols. Göttingen: Cuvillier Verlag. ISBN 9783867274722.
  • "German Cameroons 1914". UniMaps. 2004. Archived from the original on 4 April 2013. Map of the territories exchanged between France and Germany at the Treaty of Fez.
  • Schaper, Ulrike (2012). Koloniale Verhandlungen. Gerichtsbarkeit, Verwaltung und Herrschaft in Kamerun 1884-1916. Frankfurt am Main 2012: Campus Verlag. ISBN 3-593-39639-4.
  • Washausen, Helmut (1968). Hamburg und die Kolonialpolitik des Deutschen Reiches 1880 bis 1890 [Hamburg and Colonial Politics of the German Empire]. Hamburg: Hans Christians Verlag. OCLC 186017338.

External links

Banknotes of German Kamerun http://www.numismondo.net/pm/cmr/index1.htm

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