For the German Empire, Africa was not to be a priority. Any war would be fought and won in Europe and regardless of what happened in Africa, the map could be redrawn afterwards accordingly, and the Germans did hope to make extensive gains in Africa. They would leave North Africa to their Turkish allies while Germany would dominate most of the rest, linking their 1914 colonies together to create a massive “German Central Africa” sprawling across the continent. This was to be done after Germany won the war in Europe at the negotiating table. As such, the German colonies in Africa were not heavily defended at all. Togoland possessed only a military-police force and Kamerun had only a small garrison. German Southwest Africa had earlier seen a native rebellion and was the one colony where native Africans were not trusted to bear arms so that the garrison was entirely German, very professional but quite small. The most important colony, German East Africa, had a colonial military force made up mostly of Africans under German command and was the most substantial but still far from being considered a significant force. The German colonies were all separated from each other by vast distances and surrounded by enemy territory. Once war began no help was to be expected to reach Africa from Germany due to the dominance of the British Royal Navy and both sides expected the German colonies to be picked off one by one with relative ease.
|Togoland police troops|
In Togoland, despite being vastly outmatched, the small German police force put up a spirited resistance. They carried out what was basically a slow, fighting-retreat until finally surrendering to the Allies on August 26, 1914. Togoland was subsequently divided up between Britain and France. The only non-territorial goal that could be pointed to in these opening campaigns were the wireless stations in Togoland and Kamerun. In Kamerun there was a small German colonial army expanded to about 6,000 men but which was totally outmatched by the tens of thousands of Allied troops surrounding them and they were soon beset by a joint Anglo-French-Belgian invasion force. After an initial victory the Allied attack stalled at German forts in Mora and Garua. At one point the Germans even went on the offensive and launched a raid into Nigeria but this was unsuccessful. Many fled into the unexplored interior and continued to be a distraction for the Allies for more than a year before the last German forces surrendered in 1916. Again, the territory was divided between the French and the British in the aftermath.
|German Southwest cavalry patrol|
|German troops at Tanga|
|German colonial forces attack|
|German colonial company on the march|
|aiding a wounded comrade|
|Generalmajor Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck|