Soellner’s Dispatches #9
In 1878 and again in the 1880s there were two Congresses of Berlin. These Congresses—called by Otto von Bismarck in the name of the Kaiser of the new German Empire—included all the European colonial powers: Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Russian, the Ottoman Empire, and the United States.
The dual purposes of these meetings were dividing the African continent for colonialization and exploitation, and preventing these powers from fighting among themselves over new colonial territories in Africa.
True story: A large map of the continent of Africa was laid out on a table in Berlin. Delegates from the aforementioned countries gathered around the map. Representatives from each nation drew lines on this huge map, claiming the parts of Africa they wanted to colonize. The Treaties of Colonization were signed among these powers to prevent future fighting over African land.
When drawing lines on the African map the colonial powers gave no consideration to tribal groups, language groups, existing African kingdoms, other indigenous social groups, nor did they respect traditional water rights and hunting territories. As a result, many of the challenges faced by the people and countries of Africa are traceable to the Treaties of Colonization.
America did not sign any treaties at the Congresses of Berlin. However, it did play an important part in supporting the colonial efforts of the European countries. The United States had colonized part of West Africa decades earlier, to create the country of Liberia for the purpose of sending free black people and ex-slaves out of the U.S.
Imperial Germany received four African colonies: German Togo, German Cameroon, German South West Africa and German East Africa.
Question From Dispatch 8:
Which of the following was the only country on the entire continent of Africa that was not colonized by the colonial powers before World War I?
- Tristan de Cuna
Answer to Quiz 8:
The Kingdom of Ethiopia was the only country on the African continent that was not colonized before the First World War. Only in 1936 did a European country, Italy under Mussolini, colonize Ethiopia. The British army drove the Italians out in 1941.
At the end of World War One, President Woodrow Wilson outlined his vision of how to secure lasting peace. Called the Fourteen Points, it included the following provisions:
- Blame for the war will not be assigned to any country.
- There will be no reparations demanded by either side.
- There will be no exchange of territories between countries.
- Full diplomatic relations will be immediately established between all countries.
- The establishment of a League of Nations to settle international disputes.
- The United States Senate will vote to approve the League of Nations.
How many of these provisions were finally included in the Treaty of Versailles?
Look for the answer to quiz 9’s question in my next dispatch!
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The books so far in my series:
- Kalvarianhof, The Perilous Journey
- The Storm That Shook the World
- An Incident in Africa