0

Yeah, really crazy sounding question. But please hold on, moderator! :)

Congo was a Belgian colony in 1914, and neutral Belgium was the first country that Germany invaded. And if Germany got Congo, then they would've joined Cameroon with Tanzania across Africa from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. And then some railroad would do miracles, as the thinking was at the time.

And a quick gaining of advantage by the Germans on the battlefields of Belgium and northern France might've convinced the French to accept a peace on no harder conditions than the transfer of Belgian Congo to Germany.

Furthermore, was the British entry in the war, nominally because of the violation of the neutrality of Belgium that the UK in some treaty had guaranteed, was it actually motivated by preventing Congo from falling into the hands of Germany? That would definitely have cut off Cecil Rhodes' ambition of "Cape-to-Cairo". In the end incidently achieved by gaining Tanzania, where von Lettow-Vorbeck put in a remarkable effort throughout the war, in the Versailles treaty.

Was WW1 a war about trans-ocean land control in Africa? The British wanting to slice north-south, the Germans east-west. Are there any indications of people with influence having reasoned along these lines in 1914?

5
  • Perfectly plausible question, and in line with what I've read. My primary concern isn't that this is out of the blue, but the contrary - that this merely recapitulates the accepted position that the scramble for Africa was a contributing cause to WWI. Is this question answered by Wikipedia/
    – MCW
    Feb 21 at 15:18
  • But my question is about the role of Congo. Considering the German invasion of neutral Belgium, and the British entry into the war in response. Is Congo the specific key to explaining those events?
    – Tombola
    Feb 21 at 20:20
  • 1
    The UK guaranties started in 1839: Treaty of London (1839), Belgian activities in the Congo started around 1876 Establishment of the Congo Free State. So no: the UK guaranties was not actually motivated by preventing Congo from falling into the hands of Germany. Feb 22 at 11:58
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because of lack of proper research. The UK guaranties started in 1839: Treaty of London (1839), Belgian activities in the Congo started around 1876 Establishment of the Congo Free State, German activities in east africa in 1885. Feb 22 at 12:06
  • @Tombola Why do you think that the French had the power to transfer the Belgian Congo to Germany? Also, since the Germans would be aware of the UK guaranties to Belgium, You could argue that the Germans invaded Belgium to draw the UK into the war. A better ploy would have been for the Germans to offer to honour the Belgian neutrality in return for the Congo, if that was their ultimate goal.
    – Steve Bird
    Feb 22 at 12:50

1 Answer 1

2

There are publications relating to the genesis of the Schlieffen Plan and the way it was modified over the years. Prior to the actual activation of the plan, the left (southern) wing of the German forces was reinforced at the expense of the right (northern) wing.

So without going into motivations and hidden motives (which I do not know), the actions of the German staff were de-emphasizing Belgium to go directly into France. That was a debate at the time, and in hindsight it was a mistake.

2
  • In retrospect, the entire ww1 was a mistake, but do you mean that going through Belgium was a mustake? Feb 22 at 20:35
  • @MoisheKohan, what I mean here is that it was a German mistake not to concentrate overwhelming force on one flank. That way, both flanks bogged down into trench warfare. The battle of the Marne might have ended differently with a couple more corps.
    – o.m.
    Feb 23 at 5:48

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