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Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch (Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook), edited by the German Colonial Society, 1918, What presses Germany

What presses Germany

Despite all differences of opinion over what the coming peace conclusion shall bring in security for Germany and the German people, there is agreement concerning one war aim : the return of the German colonial property presently occupied by the enemies, and its expansion in order to form an economically and politically productive German colonial empire.* Without presenting specific demands here, further down aspects are described which have to be an orientation for the colonial peace programme.

Economical Aspects.

If already Bismarck regarded it a national economic asset to have the possibility to produce raw materials from the world market needed by our national economy on our own soil, this interest has greatly increased in importance due to the development Germany went through since the times of Bismarck. It is mentioned that still in 1882, when Germany had a total population of 45.2 million, 19.2 million or 42.59 % depended on agriculture, while 45.5 % earned their living in infustry and trade. 1907, with a total population of 61.7 million, the relation has developed unfavourably for agriculture, where only 28.7 % of the population found employment, while industry and trade provided for 46.4 % of the population. While in 1871 less than 2 million were living in cities over 100,000 inhabitants and 13 million in cities between 2,000 and 100,000 inhabitants, in 1910 large cities, the main centers of industry, housed 13.8 million souls, while medium size cities housed 25 million. The total imports of raw materials for industrial purposes in 1885, including semi-finished goods, amounted to 1.2 billion Mark, this figure had risen five-fold by 1913, to 6.24 billion. The total figure of exported industrial products in 1885 amounted to only 1.8 billion mark, in 1913 6.4 billion. The import of raw materials and the export of finished industrial goods has developed into the strongest force driving the German national economy.
On the other hand the rising standard of living has greatly increased the consumption of goods, which were hardly known to the masses at the time of our grandfathers. Between 1836 and 1840, the average annual consumption of coffee was 0.1 kg per person. 1913 it had risen to 2.44 kg. Even greater was the increase in case of a food such important as rice. Here the corresponding figures were 0.18 and 3.56. 
Finally the fact deserves to be mentioned that the facilitation of international trade, especially world trade, has liberated Europe's industry from its earlier dependence on European raw materials and products exclusively. So out of national economies the world economy emerged, which traded all goods of the earth as far as they were useful and transportation costs paid. This transfer to a world economy is illustrated better by no other data than the fact that in the last years before the war, almost 60 % of our imports originated from countries outside Europe. 
If, on one hand, our national economy has greatly increased, if so the national standard of living has reached a level placing Germany among the first of the nations, this change could only be realized by an increasing dependency on those states, which, as owners of colonial territories, were capable of selling raw materials. Colonial powers such as England or the cotton producing United States became critical factors in the national economical existence of the great industrial nations, which depended on being supplied by them. 
In order to illustrate how much we in Germany, not being so fortunate to dispose over large colonial territories producing raw materials, depended on supplies in a number of important raw materials from abroad, we refer to the example of Great Britain, the share of which in the delivery of raw materials to Germany is listed in the table below. We point out that this table by no means includes all imports, only those materials which because of their kind, at least at the present time (p.33) can only be produced in tropical or subtropical countries. Even under this aspect it is not complete and only shall provide a survey. For example, so important trading goods as goat skins, coffee and silk are not included.

import 1895 in million Mark 1913 in million mark of these from British colonies, in million Mark
rice 19.1 103.8 77.2
rape-seed, beets 17.6 38.8 29.8
peanuts 2.3 28.2 13.4
sesame 5.5 43.7 11.9
linseed, linseed flour 47.2 129.7 16.6
cotton seed - 37.3 35.3
soybeans etc. - 23.4 4.3
palm kernels 26.7 225.9 146.8
cotton and linters 238.8 628.2 134.7
jute 24.9 94.0 89.2
raw cocoa beans 12.1 67.1 22.9
tea 4.2 8.0 2.3
pepper 2.4 6.4 3.9
tannins (without acacia bark) - 10.8 2.8
schellac 5.5 6.9 6.5
acacia-, Kirch rubber - 3.8 3.4
caoutchouc, raw and cleaned 34.8 137.0 48.1
cattle and sheep tallow 9.1 18.2 5.8
coconuts, raw - 4.6 3.9
merino wool - 229.3 184.5
crossbreed wool 277.5 182.5 37.5
ostrich feathers - 9.8 8.7
cattle skins - 21.7 57.5
palm oil 4.7 9.8 8.4
rice waste (fodder) - 20.0 9.9
oil cake, oil cake flour 29.7 118.5 6.1
zinc ores 1.3 36.7 19.9
tin 17.1 58.1 11.6
raw copper 54.7 335.3 19.9
tobacco 102.0 134.3 -
stuhlrohr - 8.7 5.4
mimosa, mangrove barks etc. - 6.7 4.7
ivory 3.4 8.7 1.9
mica - 6.9 5.2
lead ores - 36.2 32.4
mangan ores 3.0 28.8 8.9
tungsten ores - 10.6 4.9
tin ores - 42.1 2.3
tropical precious lumber - 7.3 3.5
copal - 5.4 1.6

It is a fact that the lack of German colonial property sufficient in size and productive capability has limited the development potential of the German national economy in an unhealthy way, that as much a growing population had to be employed and fed, in the same scale we were forced to import raw materials, and we became more and more dependent on the large colonial powers. And if Lloyd George has pointed out in one of his last war speeches that England would hold the end of the rope which surrounds Germany's economic neck, despite of all exaggeration he certainly has a point. For Germany the question of raw materials is a question of life, without raw materials no possibility to produce - without possibility to produce no possibility to preserve the state of the people ! *
For a long time wide circles were convinced that it was of little concern to us which country would deliver the raw materials, as long as we were able to acquire them. This sentence would be justified if the old principle of trade, the equal treatment of all in the colonies, would be abided by. But, as Member of Reichstag Dr. Stresemann at a lecture organized by the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft in June 1916 has drastically formulated, the open door which had been promised in almost all colonies has proven to be a gate through which the German merchant had been kicked out.** In this context we only have to recall the events in Morocco, where France has managed, despite the Act of Algeciras, to subject the entire economic life exclusively to the needs and desires of France. And what has proven to be the case in Morocco, more or less has happened in the (p.34) colonies of the other powers, as it seems that the principle of the open door is bound to die in the colonies in general. Even Britain, which was most generous in permitting all nationalities in her colonies, in this context does not form an exception. 
For instance British India, from where we imported in 1913 a volume of 540 million Mark, almost the same volume as from European France, imported German goods only at a value of 150 million Mark. The Australian Federation sold to us for 156 million Mark, almost as much as Italy, but imported only for 88 million Mark, and conditions with the other British possessions are similar, for instance British West Africa, where the relation was 135 to 16, Egypt (118/43) etc. This development, which is based on an exaggerated national-economic egotism, has seen an intensification and a certain end during the war, a fact which is explained if one regards the war as what it is in reality : a struggle for life and death between the German and the British national economies ! ** One of Britain's first acts was the complete annihilation of German trade in her colonies. We recall the liquidation of German firms in the Far East, the brutal manner in which Britain destroyed deeply rooted German trade relations in her West African colonies ! We recall how German private property was sold dirt-cheap to resident Britons, all policies which had no other purpose than to quickly remove the only competition Britain had to fear, and which lay as a frightening shadow on her future. And what the war could not accomplish, the Paris Peace Conference should bring. ** For a long time the German people should be subjected to rationing, in her life, in her economy, a rationing the scope of which should be determined by the owner of the richest parts of the earth, Britain. From this aspect we have to see the declarations of war of countries such as Liberia, Siam, China, the Central American republics etc. These attacks on Germany forced by Britain pursue no other end but to deprive the German economy of the last holds in the world, where after the end of the war, old connections could be resumed.
The reknown Swedish historian Kjellen once said that the struggle between Germany and England has gone through three phases : the first phase was the one in which Germany rid its home market from British economic influence. Then, when Germany had reached over to England and had established a position there next to the British economy. And the last phase was the begin of the economic struggle between Britain and Germany in those lands which Britain regarded her own domains - in the overseas territories. If the former British minister of trade Runciman in a speech held in January 1915 declared, that Britain's war aim would be to press Germany's economy to a wall and to squeeze it, and if Lloyd George recently took up that idea by saying that it would now be England's task to throw bombs on Germany's trade to hit it wherever she could, this means no more than the struggle of Britain against that power the economy of which seemed to limit and threaten the British world economy more and more; for Germany this struggle means nothing else than the fight for the continued existence of her world economic connections, for the continued existance of her economy, of her people ! ** Long before the war a French national economist has expressed that Germany was forced to trade with the world or go under. * If this word was valid before the war, the British blockade and Germany being cut off from the world market during the war as well as the war speeches of British statesmen have opened the eyes of the simplest man for what it would mean, if Germany permanently were excluded from a free and unobstructed participation in the world market. **
On the long run it is an unbearable condition that a single state such as Britain, which, as the owner of the largest share of the world is master over the raw materials, permanently can let the civilized nations which depend on the utilization and processing of raw materials feel her power. A Social Democrat, Dr. Paul Lensch, on the Tübingen party congress in 1917 has described it as a social revolutionary task of liberation if Germany would be able to break this condition of economic lack of liberty of most industrial nations.**
Without doubt, the securation of raw material production must be one of the first and foremost tasks of peace conclusion, of a peace treaty which after the great material losses in the first place has to be of economic character. So it is obvious that merely the reestablishment of the prewar conditions does not suffice.** To comply with such conditions means nothing more thab to recreate the old fact of Germany's economic dependence of foreign raw material producing regions, even more, it means to depend at the discretion of England. Lord Cecil already has expressed that after the war, when the entire world is asking for raw materials, England is determined to in the first place serve her own needs (p.35), then those of her allies, and only if something was left, would serve Germany. It is obvious that this is a possibility completely out of the question for a Germany not completely defeated, if one takes into account that it is the import of raw materials and their processing which provides the larger part of the German people with the material basis of their physical existence. In order to fully comprehend how strongly this dependence pressed on us even in peacetime, we recall that for instance in Germany alone 7 million people, including wives and children, lived of the processing of wool and cotton. As we almost exclusively depend in both materials on the deliveries from England and the U.S.A., this means nothing more than that it is up to these two countries governments to decide, if these 7 million have the means to feed themselves.
As the question of raw materials mainly is a colonial question, simple reasons for economic security require a larger German share in those colonial territories which are suitable for the production of raw materials.** Not even an alliance with Turkey, which, for economic reasons temporarily has been given an exaggerated weight, can make up for missing colonies. Disregarded the fact, that the Asiatic Turkey can deliver subtropical, but not trpoical raw materials, it would be impossible to exert an influence so powerful to make Turkey's entire production available only to Germany's national economy. None less than Friedrich Naumann, the man who gave new weight to the Central Europe Idea, who refuted the idea that the overvaluation of an alliance with Turkey could replace German colonial property, when he declared in 1916 : "The colonies so much are an accessory to the coming central European economic policy that one can not think of any representative of central Europe, with an education in economy, who will not also be a friend of colonial expansion. We central Europeans need, outside of our gates, a garden for our tropical vegetables, we need a better quality of cotton and rubber in our hands."**
The fact that ist is not our industry alone, which is interested in the "nationalization" of our supply of raw materials, but also our agriculture. shall be mentioned casually. The millions Germany's agriculture hitherto had to invest in concentrate fodder etc. almost exclusively went to the British colonies. So, directly or indirectly, the questions of raw materials and of colonies are interconnected with the bulk of questions related to our future nourishment.
Only who has economic freedom, has political independence ! ** Only then we can speak of political liberty of the German Reich, if, as the owner of sufficient and productive colonial property economically is standing on her own feet, only then she is independent, if the yoke is thrown off the old colonial powers hitherto have been permitted to lay upon her !**

Note * : in the original emphasized by fat font

Note ** : in the original emphasized by blanks between the letters

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.32ff.

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