• Spaniards and Portuguese in South America, etc
  • UK in India, Pakistan, etc
  • Dutch in SEA: Indonesia, etc
  • French in Africa
  • Belgians in Congo

Why was Germany not as involved as these nations?

  • 1
    What do you already know about the situation? What do you know about the formation of Germany and the European colonial period?
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 9:23
  • What leads you to believe that it is less prominent? Also it isn't clear whether you are asking the question in the title or the question in the body; they are distinct.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 9:48
  • 1
    Welcome to History:Stack Exchange. Thank you for your question; please consider revising it to be more in line with our community expectations. Like many other stacks, we expect questions to provide evidence of prior research. That helps us to understand the question, and avoids our repeating work you've already done. Our help center, and other stacks provide additional resources to assist with revisions.
    – MCW
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 9:48
  • 1
    The question is about colonialism. I suggest editing "imperialism" out of the title, because imperialism is probably the main feature of Germany's foreign policy in the 1865-1945 period...
    – Evargalo
    Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 10:02
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Why was Germany not as successful as other Europeans in establishing overseas colonies? Commented Mar 2, 2021 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


Germany managed to unify very late and therefore did not have the opportunity, like other countries, to initiate a doctrine of colonialism. When it finally unified in 1871, there was little left to colonize.

There have been previous attempts at colonization by states of the then fragmented Germany, but none led to significant results, in part due to the absence of a full developed blue-water navy which was necessary for the defense, the supply and trade with the colonies.

In any case he took part in the scramble for Africa and managed to obtain several territories including parts of present-day Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Namibia, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, New Guinea, and numerous other West Pacific / Micronesian islands.

The German colonial empire ceased to exist with the Treaty of Versailles after Germany's defeat in the first world war (in 1918) and each colony became a League of Nations mandate under the supervision (but not ownership) of one of the victorious powers.


Germany attempted in the 1930s and 1940s to establish imperialist extraction colonies in Europe. The German government and many of its people explicitly spoke of it in terms of empire.

Historians of this period of German society regularly compare Germany's "empire" of 1941-1944 to other genocidal actions by other imperialist governments in their colonies.

This answer is meant to compliment ViralK's answer. It is sufficiently different and tendentious that I would be reluctant to edit it into ViralK's answer.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.