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This article is about the historical German colony. For the modern nation, see Cameroon. For the territories ceded to Germany by France in 1911, see Neukamerun.
German colony


Flag Coat of arms
Historical German territory projected onto modern-day globe.
Green: Territory comprising German colony of Kamerun.
Dark gray: Other German territories.
Darkest gray: German Empire.
Capital Duala
Buea (after 1910)
Languages German (official)
Basaa · Beti · Duala
Other local languages
Government Colony
 •  1884 Gustav Nachtigal
 •  1887–1906 Jesko von Puttkamer
 •  1914–1916 Karl Ebermaier
 •  Established 1884
 •  Disestablished 1916
Currency German gold mark
Today part of  Cameroon
 Central African Republic

German Cameroon (German: Kamerun) was a West African colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1916 in the region of today's Republic of Cameroon. German Cameroon also includes northern parts of Gabon and the Congo with western parts of the Central African Republic, southwestern parts of Chad and far eastern parts of Nigeria.


Cameroon 1901–1972
  German Kamerun
  British Cameroons
  French Cameroun
  Republic of Cameroon

19th century[edit]

The first German trading post in the Duala area (present day Douala) on the Kamerun River delta (present day Wouri River delta) was established in 1868 by the Hamburg trading company C. Woermann. The firm’s agent in Gabon, Johannes Thormählen, expanded activities to the Kamerun River delta. In 1874, together with the Woermann agent in Liberia, Wilhelm Jantzen, the two merchants founded their own company, Jantzen & Thormählen there.

Both of these West Africa houses expanded into shipping with their own sailing ships and steamers and inaugurated scheduled passenger and freight service between Hamburg, Germany and Duala.[1] These companies and others purchased extensive acreage from local chiefs and began systematic plantation operations, including bananas.

By 1884, Adolph Woermann, representing all West African companies as their spokesman, petitioned the imperial foreign office for "protection" by the German Empire. Otto, Fürst von Bismarck, the Imperial Chancellor, sought to utilize the traders on site in governing the region via "chartered companies". However, in response to the Fürst von Bismarck’s proposal, the companies withdrew their petition.[2]

At the core of the commercial interests was pursuit of profitable trading activities under the protection of the Reich, but these entities were determined to stay away from political engagements. Eventually Bismarck yielded to the Woermann position and instructed the admiralty to dispatch a gunboat. As a show of German interest, the small gunboat SMS Möwe arrived in West Africa.[3]

Protectorate of Kamerun[edit]

The protectorate of Kamerun was established during the period generally known as Europe’s imperialist "Scramble for Africa". The German explorer, medical doctor, imperial consul and commissioner for West Africa Gustav Nachtigal was the driving force toward the colony’s establishment. By then well over a dozen German companies, based in Hamburg and Bremen, conducted their trading and plantation activities in Kamerun.[4]

20th century[edit]

With imperial treasury subsidies, the colony built two rail lines from the port city of Duala to bring agricultural products to market: the Northern line of 160-kilometre (99 mi) to the Manenguba mountains, and the 300-kilometre (190 mi) long mainline to Makak on the river Nyong.[5] An extensive postal and telegraph system and a river navigation network with government ships connected the coast to the interior.

The Kamerun protectorate was enlarged with Neukamerun (German: New Cameroon) in 1911 as part of the settlement of the Agadir Crisis, resolved by the Treaty of Fez.

German losses[edit]

At the outbreak of World War I, French, Belgian and British troops invaded the German colony in 1914 and fully occupied it during the Kamerun campaign. The last German fort to surrender was the one at Mora in the north of the colony in 1916.

Following Germany's defeat, the Treaty of Versailles divided the territory into two League of Nations mandates (Class B) under the administration of Great Britain and France. French Cameroun and part of British Cameroons reunified in 1961 as Cameroon.

List of Governors of German Kamerun[edit]

14 July 1884 to 19 July 1884 - Gustav Nachtigal

19 July 1884 to 1 April 1885 - Maximilian Buchner

1 April 1885 to 4 July 1885 - Eduard von Knorr

4 July 1885 to 13 May 1887 -Julius Freiherr von Soden

13 May 1887 to 4 October 1887 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor, 1st Term

4 October 1887 to 17 January 1888-Eugen von Zimmerer, Governor, 1st Term

17 January 1888 to 26 December 1889 - Julius Freiherr von Soden, Governor, 2nd Term

26 December 1889 to 17 April 1890 - Eugen von Zimmerer, Acting Governor, 2nd Term

17 April 1890 to 3 August 1890 - Markus Graf Pfeil, Governor

14 August 1890 to 2 December 1890 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Acting Governor - 2nd Term

7 August 1891 to 5 January 1892 - Bruno von Schuckmann, Acting Governor

5 January 1892 to 27 June 1893 - Eugen von Zimmerer, Governor - 3rd Term

24 February 1894 to 31 December 1894 - Eugen von Zimmerer, Governor - 4th Term

31 December 1894 to 27 March 1895 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Acting Governor - 3rd Term

5 May 1895 to 26 October 1895 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Acting Governor - 4th Term

27 October 1895 to 10 September 1897 - Theodor Seitz, Governor - 1st Term

11 September 1897 to 12 January 1898 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor - 5th Term

12 January 1898 to 13 October 1898 - Theodor Seitz, Governor - 2nd Term

14 October 1898 to 17 January 1900 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor - 6th Term

17 January 1900 to 31 July 1900 - August Köhler, Acting Governor

16 November 1900 to 3 February 1902 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor - 7th Term

2 October 1902 to 9 May 1904 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor - 8th Term

9 May 1904 to 31 January 1905 - Otto Gleim,Acting Governor - 1st Term

31 January 1905 to January 1906 - Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor - 9th Term

January 1906 to November 1906 - Oberst Müller, Acting Governor

November 1906 to 1 July 1907 - Otto Gleim, Acting Governor - 2nd Term

1 July 1907 to 27 August 1910 - Theodor Seitz, Governor

25 October 1910 to October 1911 - Otto Gleim, Governor - 3rd Term

29 March 1912 to 9 October 1913 - Karl Ebermaier, Governor, 1st Term

1914 to 4 March 1916 - Karl Ebermaier, Governor, 2nd Term

April 1914 - Occupation by Great Britain and France

4 March 1916 - Germany surrenders territory to occupying powers becomes the colony of French Cameroon and the British Protectorate of British Cameroon

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Washausen, Hamburg und die Kolonialpolitik, p. 68
  2. ^ Washausen, p. 116
  3. ^ Haupt, Deutschlands Schutzgebiete, p. 57
  4. ^ By 1911 the total volume of trade reached over 50 million gold marks [Haupt, p. 64].
  5. ^ This line was later extended to the current Cameroon capital of Yaoundé.

Bibliography and references[edit]

External links[edit]