The German Colonial Empire: How Does Germany Deal With Its Colonial History? | Meet the Germans

The German Colonial Empire: How Does Germany Deal With Its Colonial History? | Meet the Germans

In a country that is often praised for its willingness to face up to the past, why do we hear so little about Germany’s colonial history? Rachel takes a look at the German colonial empire – where were the German colonies, what happened there and what consequences can we still see today?

From the Herero and Nama genocide to the debate around looted artifacts in German museums and galleries – there is a lot to unpack in this episode of Meet the Germans.

Rachel moved from the UK to Germany in 2016. As a relative newcomer she casts a fresh eye over German clichés, traditions and history for the Meet the Germans series. Check out the full playlist here:

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  1. Another less known history is when they ran through Rome , they went down to North Africa and freed them, they was gonna leave like the other 5 country's they freed on this spree but the Africans asked them to stay

  2. Compared to how the Japanese government and most of the older populous have denied the matter of slavery and government sanctioned sex trade (i.e. "the comfort women") during WWII I'd say that Germany has done pretty danged well.

  3. Wow, the top comment is already a What-Aboutism! I can honestly tell you that my generation did not learn ANYTHING about German colonization in school, and when I see how people often prefer to feel offended in the comment section of articles discussing the topics mentioned in the video, I get the feeling that overall there's a sense of "why should we have to think about sh*t that happened so long ago?" So, no, Germany is not at all occupying a leadership position when it comes to dealing with its colonial past. Thank you for this excellent video, there is much to think and talk about in there and I plan to use it as a teaching aid in future.

  4. all colonized countries suffered a lot… but i didn't know about the colonialism period in Germany, thanks for the insight 😉

  5. I believe people don’t know history. In Europe the wars for controlling countries and their people were constant and horrible. It is very hard to read about this matter not only in Nabia but all over Europe. Talk about the Vikings!! understand that even though is all wrong is part of the evolution of civilization and today is more than clear that not only Nabia but aggressive colonization is wrong. We hope that the war in Ukraine be the last in the European continent. I believe that all this sparks resentment and is better to deal in an amicable way. I am sure the Germans brought also many good things to Nabia. The West and the USA is vastly populated by Africans so much less is European descendants population in Africa.

  6. Very well done and comprehensive video!

    I live in the Philippines where we were colonized for 300 years by Spain, 50 years by USA, and 5 years by Japan. We're still being "neocolonized" by US and China today. Many of us argue that the current wealth of first-world countries not only comes from former colonial exploits, but also skewed treaties, agreements, and trades richer countries continue to impose on poorer countries.

    We must really see the link on how poorer countries and communities continue to suffer inequalities due to these historical and current events.

  7. Ich finde, der Film hätte länger sein müssen, da das Thema einfach zu komplex ist. Ich finde toll, dass endlich mehr über das Thema nachgedacht und gesprochen wird, da ich selbst bis auf den Hereroaufstand nichts in der Schule zum Thema Deutscher Kolonialismus gehört habe, aber es müsste als Reihe oder größere Doku angegangen werden.
    Beispielsweise fehlt es auch extrem an Bewusstsein über Qingdao, weil viele Deutsche glaube ich fälschlicherweise denken, nur die Invasion der Briten hätte zum Boxeraufstand etc. in China geführt.
    Und diese Zeiten liegen ja auch nicht ewig weit in der Vergangenheit und haben entsprechend natürlich immer noch Einfluss auf aktuelle politische Situstionen. Grundsätzlich habe ich das Gefühl, dass die grauenvolle britische Kolonialzeit gerne als Ausrede genommen wird, um sich nicht mit seinen eigenen kolonialen Schandtaten auseinanderzusetzen. So nach dem Motto "wenigstens waren wir nicht so schlimm wie…"

  8. Germany has atoned more for it's World War II role than even some of the victors of that war. Also atoning for it's colonial past it's far ahead of USA, UK or France or Belgium or Portugal. Current Germans have no obligations to the actions of Germans a hundred years ago.

  9. I personally think a lot of the African countries are also very unfair in their approach. I'm from the Philippines, a land colonized for 300 years. Yes, there were brutal periods, but also peaceful and wonderful exchange as well. We hold no serious grudge or call the Spanish or Americans for reparations from the colonial past even when we are in desperate need.

  10. Almost never heard of any Chinese complaining about or criticizing Germans in Qing Dao. Even some positive urban legend is circulating about reasonability of some of the sewerages they built in Altstadt in Qing Dao. Don't know if those legends are real. But that is it. Zero negative sayings about Germans at that time.

  11. British woman pointing out German doesn't talk much about their colonial past. As John Oliver would say – I feel a bit irony in that 😀 Video is well describing tho and appreciate courage to bring those kind of topics 🙂
    Looking forward to see some of ideas mentioned in comments.

  12. German breastbeating at its best, I see.
    Can't let the Brits, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portugese, or Russians, be worse than us (Germans) can we?
    The aforementioned have been into colonization for hundreds of years, yet Germany, with a mere history of 30 years or so in this field, cannot let the other colonizers accept their fair share of the misdeeds, can it???
    Oh, there is also miniscule Belgium, that takes no backseat to anyone when it comes to colonial misdeeds.

  13. Wir können sehr stolz auf unsere Kolonialzeit sein. Die Deutschen haben den Afrikanern viel Positives gebracht.Schulen, Hospitäler, Infrastruktur. Abschaffung der Sklaverei und Beendigung der Stammesfehden. Das können Engländer, Belgier und Franzosen nicht von sich behaupten.Wer sich hier informieren möchte, sollte das Buch des Amerikaners Bruce Gilley lesen.

  14. I like the video a lot and are that there is still much to be done, when it comes to educating and informing people about colonialism and its effects on our world even today. For Germany I was missing some remarks about the non-African colonies, particularly China. And one thing I always deem complicated is the selective analysis of one part of the historic puzzle. The atrocities Germany committed are undoubted and need attention, however taking these actions out of the Zeitgeist of that time in Europe and Northern America and the similar behavior of other European Powers, seems to me a bit too narrow. Germany was late to colonialism and tried to make up by violence and radicalism, with horrible consequence, it took most of its lectures though from other nations, e.g. concentration camps from the British in India. Thus I would suggest to concentrate on Germany, as we need to work through our part of history, but keep reflecting on the bigger frame in which our ancestors acted in mind. Not to ease our conscience, but understand the behavior in context. Does that make sense?

  15. Not wrong, but you get a very shifted picture if you think that was THE German History of Colonialism. For 800 years Eastern Europe was the center of German Colonialism. Compared to that Africa was a short, exotic but unimportant period (to the Germans) which was not even popular back in the days and soon forgotten. Doesn't make German War crimes any better of course.
    I think the whole discussion is heavily (afro)americanised which is not very helpful. The Afro-Germans today are 95% not even from the former German Colonies, so it is more a "Black vs White Europe as a whole" discussion. But were are not in the USA or UK. The victims who suffered most from German Racism are not Blacks but Jews, Slavs and Gypsies. I think that annoys Black activists as their themes have not the same relevance as in other countries….

  16. Great to see you again Rachel !! Fascinating video with a lot of information that I was not aware of. Always horrible to see the arrogance of white colonialism and the problems it has caused from then right up to today . The idea of drawing up maps in straight lines ignoring the people who actually live there ! Another example of course is the middle east, Iran Iraq etc. I wish that people were more informed or studied the past in order to understand how and why we are in the state (no pun intended !!) that we are in today.

  17. Thanks for the video! As an Immigrant living in Berlin for more than 4 years, from an outsider's view the acknowledgment of WWII is not really treated-internalized, they still avoid it, and there is no collective therapy on the topic, they're just saying (yeah yeah, I'm sorry!) but there is no real treatment or internalization in a conscious way, they haven't dealt with it properly. Also, Everything that comes from Racism And Xenophobia, you can see that on a daily basis passive-aggressive discrimination in all areas of their structure (from immigration offices to the Inmobiliary reality) many times not explicit, but there. I think there is something incredibly wrong with the German socio-political background from the last 200 years that has to be treated with giving back everything, how? education, social-ethnic Restauration not just to Namibia but for every society or ethnicity that was consumed, these are ideas that scare them to death, Germany owes infinite restoration socially and in wealth, and the reality is that the debt Is SO big that paying it would kill their current status-quo and would transcend way far from their comfort zone.

    If It's not because I belong and work to an artistic group regarding Film and music in Berlin, that has been amazing cause involves a strong multicultural ground, I would never live here, but at the same time, we are the people (immigrants) that is re-educating this first world arrogance built from assassination.