Unfortunately, they did. I say unfortunately because the Germans got into the game of acquiring colonies late and ended up with colonies that were never self-supporting. These overseas colonies were used by the German naval enthusiasts and industrialists as the reason Germany should build a large navy since the colonies would require a navy to protect them.
Germany thus embarked on a “naval race” with Great Britain. From the time of the Spanish Armada’s attempt to mount an amphibious attack on England in 1588 to the end of the Second World War in 1945, the defense of Great Britain “and her empire beyond the seas” had ever been the Royal Navy.
Thus for Germany to begin the construction of a massive ocean going battle fleet, or High Seas Fleet as it was known, was to create a mortal threat to Great Britain and lay the ground for World War One.
The biggest German colonies were in Africa. German Southwest Africa, (Deutsch-Südwestafrika), now Namibia, had a German population of 10,000 by 1914. The Germans seized the territory in 1884 and in true German fashion later exterminated almost one hundred thousand Africans in the colony who mounted a rebellion against the Germans. The colony itself was one and a half times larger than the actual territory of Imperial Germany.
From May 1885 to August 1890, the acting Imperial Governor of the colony or Reichskommissar was Heinrich Ernst Göring. His son, Hermann Göring, was a swine and a vicious killer who was a leader in the Nazi Party and the commander of the Luftwaffe in World War Two. Although a decorated combat pilot in World War One, Hermann Göring grew fearful of planes and never flew if he could possibly help it. He was a drug addict, an obese slob, and one of the most immoral men of the 20th Century.
After World War One, the League of Nations, forerunner to the United Nations, granted the British Empire a mandate to govern the colony. Today thousands of descendents of the original German settlers live in Namibia and over one-third of the population speaks German.
The other large colony the Germans had was German East Africa which included the modern day nations of Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. I will discuss this colony in a later post.