‘THE history of our Colonies in the world war has shown that the German Colonial Empire was no proper “empire” at all, but just a number of possessions without geographical and political connection or established communications. This shows the direction our aims must take.’
In these words Dr. Solf, then the German Secretary of State for the Colonies, summed up the aims and policy of German colonial expansion, at a period when it appeared possible that Germany might demand and obtain a greatly extended colonial empire in Africa. Commenting upon this idea of colonial expansion, the Vossiche Zeitung stated that Germany wanted ‘a solid colonial empire in Central Africa, to include the Cameroons, the Congo, Portuguese West Africa, German Southwest and East Africa, and portions of Portuguese East Africa and Rhodesia. These territories comprise what we need. They can form a solid colonial empire, which will satisfy our wishes.’ In other words, what Germany required, as expressed in hundreds of pamphlets and newspaper articles, was a compact and solid block of African territory stretching from ocean to ocean across the continent, including the basin of the Congo with its magnificent system of internal waterways, and the complete control of the great Central African lakes, which form a system of internal navigation comparable only with the Great Lakes of North America.
This conception of a vast southern empire as a tropical appanage of the Fatherland was based upon two fundamental ideas: the control and exploitation of the tropical products necessary for the expansion of German industries, and the establishment of a strategic fortress capable of menacing the sea-routes of the South Atlantic on the one side and of the Indian Ocean on the other. Taken in conjunction with the MittelEuropa idea, with its extension across Asia Minor to the shores of the Persian Gulf, the Mittel-Africa plan would soon have rendered impossible the continuance of British ascendancy in India, and would have led eventually to the Germanization of the East.
Since the period, not far distant, when Germany first, with faltering and hesitating footsteps, under the guidance of Bismarck, set out on her journey of adventure on the continent of Africa, giant strides have been made, both in the building of the edifice and in the growth of new ideas and new conceptions of the nature and extent of the desired tropical storehouse. Year by year, as Germany felt her way across the rich territories which she had acquired through cautious and subtle manœuvring, new features were added, until at length the earlier builders would not have recognized the original structure commenced by a few independent merchants and traders, but continued as the task of an imperial people. In common with all other colonizing nations, Germany shared in the assimilative processes of modem Imperialism. Her manner of assimilation alone was different, and reverted, so far as Africa was concerned, to the methods of the dominations of antiquity, with the addition of modern scientific Kultur. What she had acquired by treaty with the natives, and had supported by arrangements and agreements in the council chambers of Europe, was held by the sword and governed by the ruthless application of force.
The story of German administration in Africa, and to a lesser extent in the Pacific, is the history of a conflict between the radically opposed conceptions of personal freedom and foreign domination. It was essentially a contest between such moral forces and ideas as existed among primitive peoples and the non-moral, and sometimes immoral, forces of modern materialism. The native races with which Germany came in contact ranged from barbarous and sometimes cannibalistic tribes, as yet untouched by the refining influences of European civilization, through a succession of tribes of a higher standard of ethics and conduct, to races which had long been in touch with the Arab culture of the East or the European civilization of the West. None were what may be termed civilized, in the European sense of the word; but, as a general rule, they were more or less bound together by one fundamental principle — the tribal community of landed property, as opposed to the European conception of personal ownership. It was this system that Germany set about to destroy by acquiring the tribal lands, by disregarding the treaties she had solemnly pledged her word to respect, and by changing the natives from freemen, responsible to their own chiefs, to serfs dependent upon their European masters. ‘The entire colonial policy,’ declared Major-General Baron H. von Puttkamer, ‘is based upon the principle of Europeans depriving the inferior natives in foreign countries of their land by main force and maintaining their position there by force.’
The tribes to be Germanized were, as has been said of varying degrees of civilization. They ranged from the semiChristianized natives of Southwest Africa, — such as the Hereros, — and of the Cameroons, — such as the coastal tribes, — to the fierce and intractable warriors of Adamawa (Northern Cameroons) or Makondeland (German East Africa). Inter-tribal warfare raged in all the German colonies. The tribes, wherever they were loosely joined in confederations under a paramount chiel or united under the sway of some pow - erful sultan or ruler, — as with the people of Ruanda in German East Africa and the Hereros and Ovambos of Southwest Africa, — were able to offer, and sometimes did offer, a strenuous resistance to their new masters; but wherever they were small village communities, or formed comparatively small confederations, as was generally the case in the Cameroons and Togoland, they were easily subdued and caught in the German economic machine.
Nothing could have been said against the process of assimilation and the gradual extension of European administration over vast areas of territory, had they been conceived and carried out in the interests of the natives themselves. It would have been impossible for Englishmen, more especially, to protest against a process that has been followed in every British colony, to the ultimate benefit, it is to be hoped, of the less advanced races of mankind. But German methods were not founded upon any existing system; and, although German administrators were learning wisdom, they were novices in the art of ruling non-Europeans, and were at first, and in most cases to the end, unwilling to learn. Germany had ‘a method of colonization peculiar to herself,’ and did not need ‘to learn from foreign nations.’
The natives of Africa, whether they are regarded as economic assets or as human beings, are in reality children, with certain vices of their own, but in their raw state uncontaminated by a corrupt and material civilization. They may be moulded like clay in the hands of the potter, and it is the duty of those higher in the scale of civilization, as it is understood in Western Europe and America, to see that these children of nature are not crushed lower and lower, until they become mere helots and slaves of a soulless domination. This is the essential justification of European control. Yet from the first it was announced in the Koloniale Zeitschrift, that self-interest was to be the mainspring of German policy in Africa. ‘We have acquired this colony,’ it was written, ‘not for the evangelization of the blacks, not primarily for their wellbeing, but for us whites. Whosoever hinders our objects we must put out of the way.’ Avoiding the charge of hypocrisy, so freely leveled at those who have adopted other views, the Germans have laid themselves open to another, and perhaps more sinister, impeachment. ‘Our whole colonial policy,’ declared Rebel, ‘is conceived only from the point of view of material profit.’
In the early days of German colonization, from 1884 up to 1900, it was fondly hoped that the German colonies would become the homes of contented and prosperous German settlers. It was believed that German Southwest Africa and considerable portions of East Africa might become ‘white men’s countries.’ In the first of these colonies the pursuit of this policy led to the practical extermination of the only native race capable of affording a labor-supply for the white colonists. The Hereros, badly administered, robbed of their lands and cattle, and treated with great severity, were driven into the frightful Kalahari Desert — old men, women, and children — and left to die of thirst, or else killed in one of the most terrible and bloody wars that has ever disgraced African soil. Out of a total of a little over 80,000, less than 20,000 survived, and the bloody hand may be inscribed with justice on the escutcheon of Southwest Africa. This campaign is graphically described in all its horrors by a pastor of Hamburg who, in one of the most moving books ever written, sketches in broad and vivid outline the sinister record of this inhuman war.1
In German East Africa, with its large native population of some seven or eight millions, the same policy of ruthless extermination could not be pursued; yet it is officially admitted that in one campaign, the Majimaji rebellion, 75,000 people were killed. The majority of these also were driven into regions where they were allowed to perish of hunger. In the other African colonies, the Cameroons and Togoland, there has also been a full quota of risings, ruthlessly suppressed, and punitive expeditions against an almost defenseless people. In fact, within a few years, as was admitted by the great German naturalist Dr. Schillings, Germany slaughtered some 200,000 natives in her colonies.
Yet, in spite of this preliminary holocaust, the ideal of the German colonies for the German people was all the time an impossible one. With the exception of Southwest. Africa, which is suitable for white colonization on a considerable scale, the German colonies in Africa cannot be considered as possible homes for Europeans — if by home is meant permanent settlement. Even in the favored highland districts of German East Africa, around Kilimanjaro, in the Usambara Mountains, and in Ruanda, the direct rays of the tropical sun make it impossible, under present conditions, to rear European children, without constant visits to Europe; and a colony without children is, for the settlers, a land without sunshine and a country without morals. It must be admitted, therefore, that, with the one exception mentioned above, the German African colonies can be regarded only as tropical storehouses filled with the products needed in European markets.
By slow degrees this conception was forced upon the attention of the German people. In numberless lectures and addresses intended to popularize the colonies, this purely material aspect of German colonization was insisted upon. It is difficult to visualize the condition of affairs in the German colonies, since it has differed in the various territories and in different parts of the same colony. Each colony, and each district of a colony, has had its own problems, and these problems have been handled by different men of varying capacities and of varying moral worth. It is not safe, therefore, to generalize from what has occurred in any special district; but it. is safe to state, from the mass of testimony coming from many different districts, which is overwhelming and conclusive, that, generally speaking, German administration has been marked by cruelty, oppression, and a disregard for native opinions, feelings, and rights. ' In our colonies,’ said Deputy Dr. Ablass, ‘a ruthlessness and a brutality are used which mock at humanity.’
The ruling conception of tropical reserves has dominated the minds of German administrators and has led to a state of affairs detrimental alike to native and European interests. It has resulted in the establishment, particulary in the Cameroons, Togoland, and German East Africa, of great trading and planting corporations which have controlled large tracts of territory and have established plantations run by what has practically amounted to slave labor. In the Cameroons the individual planter has received little encouragement and native cultivators none at all. In German East Africa, perhaps more suitable on the whole for planters of limited financial resources, the same tendency has been observable, but to a less degree. It may be said that the policy of Germany in her three tropical colonies has been to favor the establishment and development of large estates by organized capital rather than the encouragement of numerous independent holdings. Individual cultivation by native holders has been rendered difficult, if not impossible, in many districts, by the system of forcing natives to leave their small farms in order to work on the larger plantations and on government undertakings. Thus, in the Cameroons, where some 30,000 natives, recruited in a comparatively restricted area, have been employed annually on the plantations and government works, whole districts have been denuded of their adult male population, villages have been depopulated, and lands left untilled. The most striking example of this silent conflict between organized capital and native ownership is found in the Rio del Rey district, but thereare others almost equally suggestive.
To take the Cameroons as our principal example, it must be stated that the present plantation areas form but a small proportion of this vast territory, about half as large again as Germany itself. They are nowhere very far from the coast, for the greater part of the territory, although administered by Germany, has not been developed from the economic point of view. From the Rio del Rey district, on the borders of (British) Nigeria, the plantation areas stretch through the Johann-Albrechtshöhe and Victoria districts to the Cameroons estuary. Through the southern part of this area, the Duala district, a railway runs northward for a comparatively short distance, having its coastal terminus at Bonaberi, opposite the port of Duala. Farther along the coast, and inland, plantations exist in the Edea, Kribi, Ebolowa, and Jaunde districts, which are partly served by a railway running southeastward from Duala toward the Njong River.
The commercial exploitation of these areas formed one of the most active features of German administration; but it was an exploitation confined mainly to the great plantations, and the results, satisfactory enough to the interests of the owners, insensibly tended to enslave the natives, to diminish the real resources of the country, and to create a perpetual feud between the plantation owners on the one side and independent European merchants and native cultivators on the other. While the output of the plantations was gradually increasing, independent native cultivation was continuously decreasing; and in this respect no more striking object lesson can be afforded than a comparison between the cocoa industry in the (British) Gold Coast Colony and in the Cameroons respectively. In the former, within a few years, by the efforts of the natives themselves, assisted by the government, a most flourishing industry has been established, valued at some £2,000,000 annually, while in the latter, the output just previous to the war was less than £250,000 in value, and this came almost exclusively from the large plantations.
There is thus a conflict between British and German economic methods, which holds good generally with respect to the German colonies. But the difference in the actual methods of administration has been more striking still. In order to obtain the necessary labor for their large plantations, the Germans have resorted to a system of forced labor which has led to the gravest abuses, more especially in the Cameroons and Togoland, but also in German East Africa. This crime against the natives is proved up to the hilt by the revelations made in the Reichstag by Deputy Erzberger, the leader of the Centre party, and by Deputies Dittmann, Wels, Wiemer, and others, and elsewhere by many independent and disinterested witnesses, both German and foreign, missionaries and laymen.
In order to understand this question aright, the German conception of tropical labor must be thoroughly appreciated. Briefly it is this — that the natives unwilling to work (that is, for European masters) must be made to do so by means that permit of no alternative between forced labor and actual starvation. There has been no gradual encouragement to independent labor, as has been the case in the Gold Coast and elsewhere, but an actual physical compulsion to do work on behalf of others. The German conception of labor has been admirably and forcibly expressed by three leading Germans. Colonel von Morgen, the owner of large plantations in the Cameroons, said in 1907 that ‘the only real tax, which is also of cultural value, is compulsory labor. We can do nothing in the tropics without native workmen. As we in Germany have compulsory schooling, so there must be compulsory work in the colonies.’ A similar view was expressed by Major von Wissmann, who, according to Bismarck, was one of the few men who returned from Africa with a ‘white waistcoat ’ — a rare achievement in those days; while Dr. Karl Peters, the hero of the Kilimanjaro floggings and hangings, expressed himself as follows:
‘A very good recipe is to demand a hut-tax from every nigger over the age of sixteen, and one of not less than five pounds, so that they are forced to work: otherwise we shall soon be responsible for a lot of lazy cariaille from Algoa Bay to the Great Syrtis, who will force Europe to give up the opening up of Africa unless the colonists . . . simply exterminate the useless rabble. To me the most advantageous system seems to be one in which the negro is forced, following the example laid down by Prussian military law, to devote some twelve years of his life to working for the government. During this time he should receive food and shelter, and a small wage, say about two shillings a month, like a Prussian soldier.’
In fact, in the pursuit of German economic policy, the natives of African soil were to be dragooned and Prussianized in order to feed the German commercial machine. How this has been done has now been shown in numerous publications, based upon authoritative information; but it may be stated here that the most brutal compulsion has been practised in many large districts, and that men have been deliberately driven to the plantations, like so many cattle, with halters round their necks. The scandal has been ventilated time and again in the Reichstag. It is necessary here only to quote the words of Deputy Dittmann, uttered a few weeks before war broke out.
‘Ostensibly there is no forced labor, as the Secretary of State, Dr. Solf, assured us. Truly, however, the system of work-tickets introduced in East Africa by the government really means a brutal compelling to forced work on the plantations; for every black man must prove by this card that he has worked at least twenty days each month for white men. If he cannot, he is dragged to the district police station, and there officially flogged with the sjambok, according to the new order regarding work; this is done without even the request of the employer. Gentlemen, surely there we have without doubt the most brutal compulsion to plantation work which it is possible to conceive.’
This forcing to work prevailed to a greater or less extent in all the German colonies, but in certain districts it was leading to a steady and continuous diminution in the native population. This fact cannot be disputed even by the apologists of German Kultur, for Dr. Solf himself admitted in 1913, when addressing the South Cameroons Chamber of Commerce, that ’it is a sad state of things to see how the villages are bereft of men, and how women and children carry heavy burdens; how the whole life of the people appears on the roads.2 What I saw on the high roads at Jaunde and Ebolowa has grieved me most deeply. Family life is being destroyed; parents, husbands, wives, and children are being separated. No more children are born, as the women are separated from their husbands for the greater part of the year. These are wrong conditions and difficulties which must cease.’
Perhaps the feature of German colonial administration which has attracted the greatest attention has been the system of flogging and intimidation adopted in all the German colonies, without exception, but more especially in Africa. It has already been mentioned in connection with forced labor, of which it forms, indeed, the inevitable and natural complement; but floggings were part of the ordinary administrative system, and were inflicted for trivial offences and serious crimes. In this respect the Germans have proved themselves to be many years behind other European nations, and it is indeed remarkable that a people boastful of its material progress should have employed, nevertheless, methods that have long been discarded by other western nations, from motives both of expediency and of humanity. Flogging in German Africa was systematized, as was everything else German. It is almost incredible, and would be laughable if it were not so serious as an example of the German treatment of small matters, that natives who dared to drink out of a soda-water bottle could be flogged. Hygiene practised at the end of a whip presents a lesson indeed for the emulation of sanitary reformers.
The orgy of floggings that was indulged in marks the lowest degradation of the African native; and although the Germans systematized this punishment by numerous regulations giving it an official sanction and recognition, and kept minute records of the numerous official floggings, this systematization did not prevent those numberless illicit applications of the whip which have tortured the backs of the natives and shamed the humanity of the Germans. Had flogging been the punishment for really serious crimes, little need have been said except to remark that native criminals are not infrequently the product of contact with European civilization. But flogging has been resorted to for the most trivial offenses. As a respected Prussian judge, Herr Rören, stated in the Reichstag, ‘ It has happened, and does happen, that even about household blunders, if the cook is not punctual with the dinner, or it is not to the Station Director’s taste, he is ordered a flogging for it’; whilst Deputy Ledebour, speaking in irony, said, ‘Therefore, light offenses or heavy offenses, flog you must.’
Nothing in the old days of recognized slavery can have exceeded the brutality with which this punishment has been administered. While, in the words of Secretary of State Dernburg, ‘ the State is always asked to carry a whip in its hand,’ and has thus lent its sanction to this inhuman practice, private individuals have not been slow to follow such an example. Every allowance must, of course, be made for a white minority situated in the midst of a barbarous or semi-barbarous people; but when everything has been said in mitigation of the punishment itself, nothing remains to be urged in favor of the extreme severity of its application. Natives have been maimed for life; many have been killed outright by the almost incredible brutality of their tormentors; and in all cases they have been cowed and hardened by the repeated application of the whip.
The fault of the system lay in the rigid inflexibility of its application quite as much as in the brutality of those whose duty it was to administer punishment. The African native as a rule can be managed without violence; but when this is requisite, it is the duty of the State to see that the instruments of violence are not themselves brutalized and inhuman. In the German African colonies too much license has been permitted to non-commissioned officers, who have frequently been of a low and brutal type supposed to be specially suitable for colonial work, and to native soldiers drawn from warrior tribes whose lowest instincts have been aroused by the possession of almost unlimited powers over the unfortunate members of other tribes. The legal number of twenty-five strokes, often exceeded, has earned for the German colonies the name of the ‘Colonies of the Twenty-five,’ and the monotonous song of the rhinoceros or hippopotamus whip, falling in measured cadence on the bleeding backs of its victims, has been heard far beyond the confines of German territory.
The official figures of floggings probably contain but a small proportion of the total number of cases. Yet, to take one colony alone, Southwest Africa, in one year, out of certainly not more than 80,000 natives subject to German rule, of whom no more than 17,000 were men, no fewer than 1262 were flogged and 2371 sentenced to more or less severe punishments. ‘This is such an enormous percentage,’ said Deputy Noske, ‘ that one does not really understand on what principle justice is administered.’
The administration of justice formed, indeed, one of the most serious blots on German colonizing methods. In Africa, of all countries, it is essential that justice should be well and impartially administered. The superiority of the white man consists, not in his vaunted material supremacy, but in his supposed moral advantages; and where the latter are wanting, the condition of the natives under his sway is pitiable. All nations which have controlled native races have had to learn the same lesson — that justice is the bulwark of European rule, and that by justice alone can this rule be maintained. Without it, the complete moral and social degradation of the natives is but a matter of time. It is remarkable that a nation which has been bound by convention and regulated by law has been unable to establish any legal code in its colonies; but it is undeniable that, in the case of German Africa, chaos has been the characteristic of the administration of justice. ‘Our civil and criminal administration in the colonies,’ said Deputy Dr. Müller in 1912, ‘is simply untenable. . . . The one judge uses the German penal code without further ado . . . without turning to the right or the left for the primitive conditions of the colonies. The next does not use the penal code at all. Yet the next uses an analogy of it. . . . In short, our criminal proceedings are in a condition which must be stopped, which leaves the natives entirely without rights.’
One of the principal stumbling-blocks in the way of the strict and impartial administration of justice was the vicious system whereby the judges were also administrative officials. Too often the administration of justice was in the hands of incompetent officers subservient to the governor or other higher officials, and, therefore, not in a position to deliver independent judgments.
In the beginning of her colonial administration Germany took the wrong turning, and although reforms have been initiated, especially in German East Africa, where there was some attempt to introduce the best elements of British rule from the neighboring colony, in the other African colonies matters have drifted from bad to worse. In the Pacific islands administration as a rule was fairly clean and humane, especially in Samoa, where the type of natives was of a high standard; but in Africa the black man had no reason to welcome his new masters. Instead of setting out on the road to administrative perfection, the average official shut his eyes to the lessons of anthropology, stumbled blindly into the pitfalls which had been safely passed by most other Europeans, and, instead of engaging the coöperation of the natives in the administration of their own laws, lightheartedly destroyed whatever was good by robbing the chiefs of much of their authority. Native laws and customs, native feelings, the inherent perception of right and wrong, were deliberately flouted, with the result that the Hereros were almost exterminated and other races were driven into revolt.
Sheer ignorance and sheer audacity marked German methods. It was not to be thought that a race of trained administrators would rise out of the ground from the seed sown at Hamburg or Bremen, On the contrary, it was to be expected that only patient and prolonged training would establish a ruling caste in the administrative saddle. But men were sent to the colonies who were totally unsuited for the immense task that was before them. As in the Congo Free State, when the riff-raff of Europe were eagerly seeking administrative posts in the Congo forests, so in German Africa the most unsuitable elements were sent across the seas. ‘Men who have lived and are on the shelf, and officials and officers who stink materially and morally,’ in the words of Deputy Dr. Schaedler, were only too frequently given important posts in the colonies.
It is not possible to mention here the well-authenticated atrocities that make German colonial history such a damning record of bad administration. There have been ‘ bad eggs’ in all colonies, but the list of those who have befouled the German name in the eyes of the natives is long indeed. From Karl Peters, the inhuman scoundrel to whom the Germans have erected two statues, to Governor von Puttkamer, Bismarck’s nephew, and roué, spendthrift, and forger, Chief Justice Meyer, and Herr G. A. Schmidt, the disgusting hero of numerous Sadist atrocities in Togoland; from Prince Prosper Arenberg, the autocratic degenerate, to Major Dominik, of infamous celebrity in the Cameroons; from Captain Schennemann, who caused natives to be mutilated in a particularly horrible way, to Captain Kamptz, who had men shot to pieces in front of a gun as a punishment for highway robbery, one could wander through a mass of revolting details that serve to throw the conduct of those who endeavored to administer faithfully and well into higher relief. It was not so much ‘the transplanting of the Prussian Government assessor and his bureaucratic system to Africa,’ as was feared by Bismarck, as the sending thither of those who were temperamentally incapable of understanding the natives, and were by education and upbringing unsuitable to undertake highly skilled administrative work in tropical countries.
Having examined the German system in broad outline, we may temper our conclusions by the assumption that wherever a strong race is brought into contact with a weaker or less organized people, there is always a danger of oppression in one form or another. The history of Great Britain’s administrative work in the past will not bear examination in every detail. But there has been, nevertheless, a moral impulse which has expanded progressively since the abolition of the slave trade, till it enables us to claim with justice that the basis of British rule over subject races is the conception of trusteeship. It has become an axiom of British government that colored people must be governed, not for the benefit of those who rule, but for the improvement of those who are compelled to obey; and the somewhat sordid manifestations of a capitalistic imperialism which are still evident in some quarters, now meet with little response from the mass of the British people.
In the case of Germany there has been this difference. The ferocious ebullitions of the ruling caste in Africa, although condemned at home by the Social Democratic leaders, met with little reprobation from the powerful governmental clique, and attracted comparatively little attention among the mass of the people. So long as palm-oil, cocoa, rubber, and other tropical products flowed uninterruptedly into the markets of Hamburg, it mattered little how they were obtained. The German moral sense had been blunted by long years of self-deception. Oppression in Africa, it was argued, is inevitable, and it is hypocritical to condemn in ourselves what has been practised by others, and hypocritical in others to condemn such practices by ourselves.
Yet there are degrees of oppression, and assuming that cruelty must exist where the State has professed itself powerless or unwilling to initiate true reform, or to establish personal liberty, we may condemn the Germans, nevertheless, for the ruthless exercise of force majeure when less drastic methods would have been equally efficacious. The moral turpitude and materialistic fetichism of German colonial administration have been self-evident and self-confessed, and it is impossible to exonerate the system as a whole from the charge of utilizing the native races as pawns on the capitalistic chessboard of European commercialism.
We may turn with comparative pleasure to another aspect of German policy, because, in the pursuit of material aims, the Germans have introduced methods of order into their colonies which might be copied with advantage by other nations. In the application of modern science to tropical needs the Germans have not lagged behind. They have studied with success scientific methods of sanitation and tropical therapeutics, and although they have nowhere surpassed the work carried on by such an institute as the Wellcome Tropical Laboratories at Khartum, they have, nevertheless, battled with some success against epidemic and endemic disease. It is, however, a terrible commentary on the spread of so-called civilization in Africa that, while the diseases peculiar to the country have not been conquered, others not less terrible in their effect have been introduced. The ravages of syphilis, contracted on the plantations or in the mines, have been added to the terrible scourge of sleeping sickness. The tragedy of pthisis has been superimposed upon the evils of malaria. While the latter have been combated by modern hygienic methods, the door has been opened to new forms of disease. But such work as the Germans have been able to perform in the domain of medicine has been for the ultimate good of blacks and Europeans alike.
In the domains of practical and ordered architecture and of engineering the Germans have surpassed, in some respects, their British and French competitors. To compare the port of Dares-Salaam, in German East Africa, with its neatness and fine buildings, with the neighboring British port of Mombasa, is not to the advantage of the latter; and even the native towns in each case show the difference between what may be termed paternal efficiency and the detached casualness of British methods. Similarly Duala, the chief port of the Cameroons, founded, it is true, on the moral degradation of the former native owners, is a model of order when contrasted with coastal towns in the Gold Coast Colony, and compares favorably with the French show-place of Dakar in Senegal.
German railways, too, are supplied with splendid stations, uncommon in any African country; but they have been built with the sweat and blood of forced laborers and are the symbols of enslavement rather than of freedom. The Uganda Railway, built into the heart of the continent in the early days of British influence in East Africa, was the instrument of freedom, and introduced law and order where slavery and oppression had formerly been paramount. The Tanganyika Railway, also built into the heart of Africa, was to have been the instrument of Germany’s commercial domination of the Tanganyika districts and the visible sign of German might in Africa. It was pushed forward at great speed, mainly for strategic and materialistic reasons.
In one other respect the Germans are worthy of praise. They have studied with minute care the products of their colonies. Although this has been mainly with a view to their utilization on the markets of Europe, no one can blame a commercial people for entering upon this investigation with thoroughness. The same process is carried on by Great Britain, France, and America, but it is doubtful whether it has been followed with the same close attention to possible developments of new industries.
From the scientific point of view, therefore, German colonization has been a success, for every encouragement has been given to the scientific application of agriculture, the study of tropical products, agricultural experiments on broad and practical lines, the utilization of the indigenous fauna, experimental work in the eradication of tropical diseases, the study of practical hygiene, and the investigation of native languages — to the exclusion, not infrequently, of the more practical work of exploitation and colonization. If a scientific foundation be required in a modern colony, then there can be no possible doubt that such a basis was prepared in the German tropical possessions; but to adopt a homely simile, it is no good for a laborer to know how to use a theodolite if he cannot also handle a pick and axe. Too many of Germany’s administrators were theorists first and practical workers second.
The history of German colonization, however, enforces the lesson that material civilization is a curse and a blighting influence if it be not accompanied by active sympathy, deep understanding, and moral worth. The African native is no mere hewer of wood and drawer of water, nor can he be regarded simply as the necessary tool in the work of scientific exploitation. It is precisely because the Germans have been unable to recognize this elementary fact, that they must be regarded as unsuitable workers in the African domain. By their systematic oppression, manifested in many different directions and in many different places, they have demonstrated their unfitness to control the destinies of native races.
It is no part of this article to suggest what shall be the future of the German colonies. The problem is an entirely complex one, — more complex than can be shown in a few generalizations, — involving the interests of several European nations and the rights and liberties of many millions of African natives. It is a problem particularly difficult for an Englishman to discuss; for England is always open to the charge, unjust in the writer’s view, that her wars have been waged for territorial gain, because at the end of them she has generally received fresh accessions of territory. The most casual acquaintance with the underlying forces that have produced national catastrophes, and with the conditions prevailing at the conclusion of peace, is sufficient to refute such an argument. But it is permissible to suggest that deep moral forces are moving the world, and that the old order is passing away even before the new order has been evolved.
It is, therefore, essential, in the interest of the natives, that they should be governed by some power capable of utilizing these new moral forces for the benefit of black humanity; for, while the more sordid and material aspects of colonial development must not be dismissed, the white man is under a sacred obligation toward the less advanced races of mankind which cannot be minimized or neglected. In this work America, too, has her part, and whatever may be the ultimate form of the redistribution of territory in Africa, it is certain that America is too deeply interested in the moral evolution of humanity to stand aside. If it be impossible for America to assume any direct territorial responsibility in Africa, nevertheless, the force of American opinion is a factor to be welcomed, and it cannot be disregarded by any European nation engaged in the administration of African territories.