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Germany's Asia-Pacific Empire

Germany's Asia-Pacific Empire: Colonialism and Naval Policy, 1885-1914

Charles Stephenson
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 314
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  • Book Info
    Germany's Asia-Pacific Empire
    Book Description:

    This book examines German attempts to acquire colonial territories in East Asia and the Pacific, and discusses the huge impact this had on local and other international powers. It covers the German acquisition of Kiautschou in 1897, which had profound con

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-726-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiii)

    Perhaps the first thing to say about this work is that it is not founded on original research based upon the careful scrutiny of primary sources; or rather it is, but none of this research is mine. No, this is a work of synthesis, which takes, or perhaps ruthlessly plunders would be a more apt description, the original research of many eminent scholars and attempts to weave it into a narrative concerning the colonial and naval policy of Imperial Germany in the Asia-Pacific region over the given period of 1885 to 1914. There are also few, if any, new interpretations...

  6. 1 Bismarck and Empire: 1885–1888. Kaiser Wilhelm’s Land, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Marshall Islands and Nauru
    (pp. 1-16)

    The extra-European colonial history of Imperial Germany was very different from that of other European powers, not least because of its relative brevity. Sir John Robert Seeley, writing of the British Empire in 1883, commented that ‘we seem, as it were, to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.’¹ The entry of Imperial Germany into colonialism cannot be attributed to ‘absent mindedness’, but rather to cold Bismarckian calculation. Having said that, we do not know exactly what that calculation was, indeed the Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s apparently sudden interest in the acquisition...

  7. 2 The Acquisition of Kiautschou: 1897
    (pp. 17-30)

    There was a pressing need, as viewed from the German Admiralty, for a permanent base in the Pacific area to accommodate the vessels of the East Asiatic Cruiser Division. A precursor to this force had been formed in the early 1880s, and its importance had grown commensurately with the acquisition of colonial territories. It became a permanently constituted unit in September 1894 following the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War the previous August. Contemporary practice designated a division as a four-ship unit under the command of a rear admiral; the first holder being Paul Hoffman who took up position in November....

  8. 3 China 1897–1914: Colonial Development and Political Turbulence
    (pp. 31-48)

    The seizure of Kiautschou was to have profound and almost immediate consequences for China, and indeed the peace of the whole East Asian region, inasmuch as it was the first in a series of such manoeuvres characterised as the ‘Scramble for Concessions’. In December 1897 Russian warships anchored at Lushun (Port Arthur) and Darien (Talienwan) under the pretext of protecting China against the Germans. Indeed, some scholars have contended that protests in respect to German actions became somewhat muted when Foreign Minister Count Muraviev realised that it would provide an excuse for Russian expansion in a like manner. Russia had...

  9. 4 Tectonic Shift 1: 1898–1899. Spain and the USA, Germany, Micronesia and Samoa
    (pp. 49-66)

    Kiautschou was not the last territory Germany was to obtain in the Far East, though it was to be the last acquired by force of arms, or at least at first hand. The German interest in acquiring further territory coincided with an unrelated struggle between a long established imperial power and an up and coming one; the Spanish–American War of 1898. There were several factors entering into the American decision to go to war against Spain, including the Cuban struggle for independence, American imperialism, and, the ostensible trigger, the sinking of the US battleship Maine in Havana harbour on...

  10. 5 Tectonic Shift 2: 1902–1914. Japan and Russia, Britain and Dominion Defence, the United States
    (pp. 67-84)

    On 12 February 1902 it was announced, simultaneously, in the United Kingdom and Japan that a treaty of alliance existed between the two states. This, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902, had actually been signed on 30 January but had not been publicly announced so that the ‘Great Powers’ of Germany, Russia and France could be informed.¹ These were the same powers that had, in 1896, formed the so-called Triple Intervention, or Dreibund, that forced Japan to give up the Liaotung Peninsula along with Port Arthur; which territory had been taken from China under the Treaty of Shimonoseki following Japanese victory...

  11. 6 War. August 1914
    (pp. 85-116)

    The causes of The Great War, as it was generally known in Britain and France until superseded by a later and a good deal greater conflict, are still the subject of much debate and inquiry, with several schools of thought having emerged.¹ It is not proposed to enter into this particular thicket here, but it can hardly be controversial to state that the origins of the conflict lay in Europe. The ostensible spark that set it off being, as Bismarck is supposed to have predicted, ‘some damned silly thing in the Balkans’.² Whether the subsequent events were due to misjudgements...

  12. 7 Naval Plans and Operations 1897–1914
    (pp. 117-130)

    The Kaiser and the Tsar met at Reval (Tallinn, now capital of Estonia) from 6 to 8 August 1902, an occasion when both were impressed by a demonstration of gunnery on the part of the Russian Baltic Fleet. They and their entourages viewed this display from the flagship of a somewhat irascible admiral named Zinovi Rozhdestvenski, who took the credit for organising and supervising the demonstration.¹ The Kaiser was no doubt enthused by this display of naval strength, and on his departure signalled to the Tsar, undoubtedly to the latter’s embarrassment, ‘The Admiral of the Atlantic Ocean salutes the Admiral...

  13. 8 Kiautschou: Naval and Military Operations 22 August – 28 September 1914
    (pp. 131-152)

    The position of Kiautschou, in military and naval terms, was hopeless once Japan entered the war; geography and force disparity ensured that German retention of the territory was impossible. The German administration, under the leadership of Governor Meyer-Waldeck had little in the way of resources with which to defend the area from the military and naval power that the Japanese could deploy.

    The ultimatum delivered to Germany expired on 23 August, but Meyer-Waldeck had been making preparations for a potential outbreak of hostilities against an unknown enemy or enemy combination for some time previously. He had been kept abreast of...

  14. 9 Tsingtau: Naval and Military Operations 28 September – 7 November 1914
    (pp. 153-176)

    The Japanese Army was, in August 1914, the only modern force that had direct experience of conducting formal siege operations. This experience had been gained a decade earlier during the investment of Port Arthur, an almost isolated campaign of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–5, by Japan’s Third Army under General Nogi Maresuke. This operation had been accomplished once before by Nogi, on 21 November 1894, during the Sino-Japanese War. On that occasion, the 1st Infantry Brigade, with Nogi in command as a major-general, had successfully stormed the Chinese-held defences and taken occupation in only one day with minimal losses....

  15. 10 Aftermath
    (pp. 177-194)

    Though driven entirely from the Pacific during 1914, the Imperial German Navy was to return over two years later in the shape of the commerce raiders SMS Wolf and Seeadler. The former vessel was a converted merchantman, armed with six 150mm guns, one 105mm gun, four torpedo tubes and some 460 mines, that sailed from Kiel on 30 November 1916 under Commander Karl August Nerger. Evading the British blockade, Nerger was able to steam to the South Atlantic and then into the Indian Ocean and the waters off Australia and New Zealand. Wolf carried some 8,000 tonnes of coal giving...

  16. Notes to the Text
    (pp. 195-252)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 253-278)
  18. Index
    (pp. 279-292)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 293-293)