Saturday, August 15, 2015

An Eerie Convention

Yesterday the Badische Zeitung published an article about the Reichskolonialtagung 1935 in Freiburg. German colonies?

Germany was divested of all its settlements in Africa and in the Pacific by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Compared with other imposed conditions, the loss of Germany's colonies was regarded by many people in the Weimar Republic as a minor setback. This was possibly due to the fact that already in the Second Reich the acquisition of overseas territories played a far less important a role than in Great Britain or France.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933 they were not hot on colonies either but rather looking for new Lebensraum (space to live) in eastern Europe. Nevertheless many of those who had served in Deutsch-Südwest (nowadays Namibia), Deutsch-Ostafrika (Tanzania, Burundi, and Uganda), Togo (Ghana and Togo), or Kamerun (Cameroun and Nigeria) were still alive and preserved the memory.

Freiburg had sort of colonial tradition so it was no coincidence that the 1935 national convention on colonies took place in the city. Local arrangements were handled by the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft in Freiburg and supported by the highest Nazi dignitaries. Gauleiter Robert Wagner himself assumed the patronage of the convention and addressed its participants at the Münsterplatz.

Solemn demonstration at the Münsterplatz, June 16, 1935 (©Stadtarchiv Freiburg).
The 1935 convention was accompanied by an exhibition.

Invitation to the colonial exhibition (©Stadtarchiv Freiburg).
Crazy. Nevertheless one comment about the article stressed the point that although all former colonies have gained their independence a colonial mindset is still in our heads when we buy T-shirts cheaply made in Bangladesh.
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