Sebastian Konrad’s German Colonialism: A Short History

I have recently read this short book for a Nineteenth Century German history class and I was amazed at how concise yet how much information and analysis was packed into it. Konrad is straight to the point. He does not dwell on abstractions, and he certainly does not waste time.

German Colonialism: A short history introduces the contentious German colonial empire, and the extent of its rule both economically and politically. However, he also discusses the socio-economic issues that came along with the new bout of colonial fever that overcame the Kaissereich.

Interestingly, there is a real effort to provide a fair depiction of the way colonial and tribal cultures in Afrika and even China affected the way the German people and nation saw themselves respectively not only as a nation, but also in the larger context on the European continent. In essence, ideas such as Lebensraum and the idea of a central Europe Mitteleurope were not only bred out of the societal pressures in Germany, but also out of  the extent of its colonial pursuits.

Konrad himself makes i clear that Germany’s empire was no where near at the economic and political strength of Britain and France, primarily because it stepped in so late, and also because of its inability to transform colonial states into self sufficient entities  In fact, most colonies were financially backed by the Germany’s national treasury- which was emptying quite quickly.

I truly recommend this book if you have a free afternoon and are genuinely interested in the development of German Colonialism. It is an easy read if you are used to history, but it is definitely not easy reading if you are not.

Published in The Art of Polemics, Issue 1, on June 18th, 2014.


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