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Imperialism | Colonial Policy

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Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by the German Colonial Society, 1918, The War in the South Pacific

The War in the South Pacific

(p.28) In Ney-Guinea in July 1914 the radio telegraphic station in Bitapaka was taken in service. 
Militarily defense was hardly possible, as the entire protectorate, consisting of innumerable islands, merely had a police force of a few hundred men. 
On August 6th the seat of the governor was moved from Herbertshöhe to Toma, c. 12 km inland, because Rabaul and Herbertshöhe lay open within the range of enemy artillery. A defense force was organised from the police force and from Germans living in the country, the low importance of which can be seen from the fact, that the number of white soldiers never surpassed a few 50. Machine guns and similar weapons were not abailable. The governor, under the given circumstances, refrained from anything but ordering to defend enemy attacks on the radio telegraphic station at Bitapaka.
During the absence of the governor, who was away on official business, on August 12th Australian warships appeared in the Blanche Bay and demanded information on (p.29) the location of the radio telegraphic station. As they, of course, were not given such information, they steamed off without taking the place under fire, as they had threatened. Further the enemy limited himself both in Rabaul and in Herbertshöhe to destroying the telephone installations. In the early morning of September 11th torpedo boats entered the port of Rabaul, followed by numerous cruisers and submarines and one troops transporter. British midshipmen landed in Herbertshöhe, where they hoisted the British flag. The defense found itself in a situation all the more difficult, opposed a clearly superior opponent, as the students of the English mission everywhere provided treacherous service to the Australians.
Still an emergetic attempt to defend was made, which resulted in a determined bush war. As it was impossible to defend the radio telegraphic station on the long run, it was destroyed on the evening of September 11th. On the next days skirmishes were fought in the bush, with British patrols which searched for the radio telegraphic station. Early in the morning of September 14th the entire vicinity of Rabaul and Herbertshohe came under heavy artillery fire; after which a column of c. 600 Britons moved along the main route to Toma. In addition several companies, lead by indigenous followers of the Wesleyan mission, moved on bush paths into the hinterland. In the afternoon of September 14th the British commander in chief requested the German governor to enter negotiations, a request he followed, considering the unfavourable circumstances.
In the occupation zone the white population was harrassed by the disembarked troops in the worst way. Every building was plundered; the occupation force disposed over thousands of men to take violent avtion. In addition renewed artillery barrage was to be feared and it was not clear, if the small number of police troops still available, poorly trained, would remain loyal under the impression of a renewed barrage. As further resistance hardly offered any prospect for success, the governor entered in negotiations with the Anglo-Australian occupation on September 17th, which resulted in surrender conditions favourable to the protectorate and her inhabitants. In consequence of thexe negotiations the protectorate's armed force entered Herbertshöhe on September 21st, where they surrendered under honourable conditions.
The occupation of the other parts of Neu-Guinea took place without any problems for the British and Australians. Friedrich-Wilhelmshafen was occupied late in September, Nauru on September 21st.
On August 12th two British gunboats appeared off Jap, which did nothing but destroyed the radio telegraphic station. On October 7th the island was occupied by the Japanese. Off Angaur, just as in the case of Jap, at the beginning of the war a British gunboat had appeared and destroed the radio telegraphic station.
After leaving a note behind, according to which the entire protectorate of Deutsch-Neu-Guinea was occupied in the name of the King of England, the gunboat had left. This action did not prevent the Japanese from occupying Angaur later. The Japanese took possession of Ponape on October 7th, of Truk on October 12th and Jaluit on September 29th. All these occupations took place without a fight.
As far as the island territory occupied by Anglo-Australian authorities is concerned, it has been reported that in accordance with the surrender conditions, extraordinarily favourable for the German interests, works on the plantations have been continued, so that it has to be expected that these did not suffer a damage of the size which has been the case in Africa.
On Samoa a force capable of defense did not exist at all. The governor called upon the resident Germans to form a police force which was supposed to uphold law and order. The British government had given the task of proceeding against Samoa to the government of New Zealand. An expedition corps of 53 officers and 1,351 men was equipped, which left New Zealand on two transport vessels on August 19th. On August 29th the transport, escorted by 5 warships, arrived at Samoa, which, after 1500 men were disembarked, was occupied without a fight.
On September 14th the German cruisers "Scharnhorst" and "Gneisenau" appeared off Samoa, but did not take any action against the British and left the same day. A consequence was that the new administration quickly shipped the German officials off from Samoa and interned them in New Zealand. The few reports which came in from Samoa during the war indicate, that conditions under the New Zealand maladministration, have developed sadly for the German interests. Because the New Zealand officials were completely unfamiliar with the conditions of the land, in the plantations much has been destroyed which was created with great effort. 


Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch, (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by P. Sprigade und M. Moisel, Surveys and retrospects by Dr. Karstedt. Berlin 1918, p.28f

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