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Imperialism | Colonial Policy

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Reichstagsakten 1888/89, 7. Lp., Vol. 121, Attachment 41: Collection of Documents pertaining the Uprising in East Africa, No. 28: Directive to the Imperial ambassador in London
Friedrichsruh, October 28th 1888

It is to be desired that our agreement with England on fighting the slave trade and the import of weapons to East Africa will have the shape of an international agreement. Such a document would establish limits for the expansion of the continued expansion of the Muslim and slave trading movement, by the moral impression by the accord of the two European powers so far engaged there, and also, more propably, will lead to the cooperation of the other European states engaged. I propose the exchange of notifications between us and Britain, in which we take upon ourselves the obligation, under the condition (p.412) on an equal participation of Britain for the same purpose, to fight the anti-Christian and anti-civilizatoric movement which has emerged over the last years on the African continent, and to recognize the prohibition of the export of slaves and the import of arms and ammunition as the most effective means, as it is only the possession of superior arms ans ammunitions which enables the Arab and Muslim minority to undertake slave hunts and wars necessary to obtain slaves, and to keep up the superiority of their race in Africa's interior.
The slave trade and the initiative Britain has taken to combat it, have been origin and incentive to the union of all elements interested in the matter, and which have made it possible to use Muslim fanaticism in the interest of this over one thousand years old tradition of African slave trade and to call on them for war. The effects of this movement, large and small, can be seen in the positions of the Mahdi, of Tippu Tip and in the rising number of murders of Europeans in Africa's interior. To transfer christianity and European civilization to Africa by armed force is not feasible because of the width of the country and of the climate. The indigenous population would be susceptible to the European efforts if it was not suppressed by the force of arms, the higher intelligence and the 
cohesion of the Arab Muslims. We could outmatch the latter only, if we strike at the source of their superiority, superior armament and the realisation of their profits, by the suppression of the import of arms and the export of slaves.
Therefore I regard it a task no Christian nation should exclude itself from, to interrupt as far as possible the import of weapons and ammunition to Africa's interior and the export of slaves. This task shall be mainly taken care of by the two powers most interested in the Sultanate of Zanzibar, Germany and Britain; but to its complete solution it is recommended, to, soon, gain the cooperation of the neighbouring Portuguese government and of His Majesty the King of Belgium for the Congo Free State. It is also recommended to kindly ask the French government for their cooperation, in order to prevent arms import into the Congo area and in order to end the abuse of the French flag in East Africa by Arab dhows.
Your Excellency will request Lord Salisbury to confirm his approval with these opinions by a note to Sir Edward Malet, in order to cause the British navy to join in a concerted blockade of the Zanzibar coast, and, like us, but operating separately, to ask the previously mentioned governments to decree respective instructions.

signed von Bismarck

Your Excellency the Imperial Ambassador
Count von Hatzfeldt


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translation and English language table of contents: AG