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Reich Colonial League (Germany)


Last modified: 2003-08-09 by santiago dotor
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[Reichs Kolonial Bund (Germany)]
by Mark Sensen

See also:

Other sites:

  • German Colonies (German text only) at the Heritage Group of former Servicemen in the Protectorates and Overseas Territories — Friends of the former German Protectorates Association website)

Third Reich Colonial Claims

In Bericht van de Tweede Wereldoorlog (Message of the Second World War) I found a picture with a Nazi flag I do not know. But it has a remarkable resemblance with the flag of the Deutsch-Ostafrikanischen Gesellschaft (German East Africa Company), although I am not sure the canton is red (the photo was in black and white). The photo was taken at a mass demontration in 1937, and above the flag there was a banner with the text Deutschland braucht Kolonien (Germany needs colonies) which of course strengthens the idea it is the flag of some sort of colonial company. By the way, in Boudewijn Büch's Eenzaam (Lonely), a book about islands and [other] geographical oddities, I read that the Nazi government considered their former colonies as German colonies occupied by the Allies. In 1939 they even claimed a piece of Antarctica as Deutsch Neuschwabenland [German New Swabia].

Mark Sensen, 5 February 1997

This is the flag of the Reichskolonialbund, a Nazi Party organization devoted to the recovery of Germany's African colonies. The RKB's badge was similar to its flag and appears on a poster that is reproduced in one of my reference books. The poster also shows a map of Africa with the former German colonies deliniated and the slogan Rohstoffe aus eigenen kolonien! (Raw materials from our own colonies!).

Tom Gregg, 5 February 1997

There were very strong Nazi movements in both Southwest Africa and Tanganyika. In the former, German Nazis started building airfields at the beginning of the Second World War, so that the Luftwaffe could come and liberate them — a triumph of hope over aeronautical realities. They were interned for their troubles. In Tanganyika, the British authorities who administered the territory received a lot of flak from British settlers over their apparent policy of favouring the remaining German settlers. Partly this was a policy of appeasement of Germany, partly due to legalistic problems regarding Tanganyika's status — it was a League of Nations mandated territory.

In both Tanganyika and Southwest Africa too there were local Führers — leading Nazis who effectively had the status of Gauleiters, although whether this was officially recognized by Berlin I do not know. Under Third Reich laws, Germans in Southwest Africa and Tanganyika were forbidden from taking out British or South African citizenship — they were regarded in Berlin as citizens of the Reich. Officially, renouncing German citizenship was regarded as treason and could (in the ex-German colonies) lead to ostracisation by local Nazis. Nevertheless, many Germans (including the local Führer) did take out South African citizenship, while continuing to profess their loyalty to the Reich.

There are still Nazis in Namibia today. There was recently a legal case over the use by some Germans of the Nazi flag. The authorities argued that this was a racist symbol, as banned under the constitution, the Germans argued that it was their ethnic symbol. Before Namibian independence, the old German Imperial Flag was quite widely used. I think it worth pointing out that Namibia's Nazis are mostly of the armchair variety. They are culturally isolated and because they never actually lived under Hitler, nor directly participated in his crimes, they have a wholly unrealistic and romantic view of the Nazi period.

Anyway, the Germans in the 1930s were very serious about getting their colonies back, and had a core of supporters in the ex-colonies whose 'grievances' were continually be exploited by Berlin. However, from 1937 onwards, Hitler effectively dumped the Deutschland braucht Kolonien policy. There is some historical dispute over why. Some argue that he recognized there was no possibility of its success; others the reverse — that it was becoming too successful and that ceding Germany back her colonies might be used by the democracies to defuse Germany's key territorial claims, which were, of course, in Europe, not Africa. As a related side issue, there is some evidence that Germany offered a deal to South Africa to keep South Africa out of the war by promising her Rhodesia and other British territories in the event of Britain's defeat.

Stuart A. Notholt, 10 February 1997