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 grey: Other German territories.
Darkest grey: German Empire.
Capital Duala
Buea (after 1910)
Languages German (official)
Basaa · Beti · Duala
Other local languages
Government Colony
  1884 Gustav Nachtigal
  18871906 Jesko von Puttkamer
  19141916 Karl Ebermaier
   Established 1884
   Disestablished 1916
Currency German gold mark
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of Bamum
Mandara Kingdom
Kotoko kingdom
French Congo
French Cameroons
French Equatorial Africa
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 included 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 19011972
  German Kamerun
  British Cameroons
  French Cameroun
  Republic of Cameroon

19th century

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

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

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

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

Tenure Incumbent Notes
German Cameroon (Kamerun)
14 July 1884 to 19 July 1884Gustav Nachtigal, ReichskommissareCommissioner
19 July 1884 to 1 April 1885Maximilian Buchner, acting Reichskommissareacting Commissioner
1 April 1885 to 4 July 1885Eduard von Knorr, acting Reichskommissareacting Commissioner
4 July 1885 to 13 May 1887Julius Freiherr von Soden, Governor 
13 May 1887 to 4 October 1887Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor1st Term
4 October 1887 to 17 January 1888Eugen von Zimmerer, Governor1st Term
17 January 1888 to 26 December 1889Julius Freiherr von Soden, Governor2nd Term
26 December 1889 to 17 April 1890Eugen von Zimmerer, acting Governor2nd Term
17 April 1890 to 3 August 1890Markus Graf Pfeil, Governor  
3 August 1890 to 14 August 1890… Kurz, acting Governor 
14 August 1890 to 2 December 1890Jesko von Puttkamer, acting Governor2nd Term
7 August 1891 to 5 January 1892Bruno von Schuckmann, acting Governor 
5 January 1892 to 27 June 1893Eugen von Zimmerer, Governor3rd Term
27 June 1893 to 24 February 1894… Leist, acting Governor2nd Term
24 February 1894 to 31 December 1894Eugen von Zimmerer, Governor4th Term
31 December 1894 to 27 March 1895Jesko von Puttkamer, acting Governor3rd Term
28 March 1895 to 4 May 1895… von Lücke, acting Governor 
5 May 1895 to 26 October 1895Jesko von Puttkamer, acting Governor4th Term
27 October 1895 to 10 September 1897Theodor Seitz, Governor1st Term
11 September 1897 to 12 January 1898Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor5th Term
12 January 1898 to 13 October 1898Theodor Seitz, Governor2nd Term
14 October 1898 to 17 January 1900Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor6th Term
17 January 1900 to 31 July 1900August Köhler, acting Governor  
1 August 1900 to 6 September 1900… Diehl, acting Governor 
6 September 1900 to 15 November 1900… von Kamptz, acting Governor 
16 November 1900 to 3 February 1902Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor7th Term
3 February 1902 to 3 October 1902… Plehn, acting Governor 
2 October 1902 to 9 May 1904Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor8th Term
9 May 1904 to 31 January 1905Otto Gleim, acting Governor1st Term
31 January 1895 to January 1906Jesko von Puttkamer, Governor9th Term
January 1906 to November 1906Oberst Müller, acting Governor 
November 1906 to 1 July 1907Otto Gleim, acting Governor2nd Term
1 July 1907 to 10 February 1910Theodor Seitz, Governor3rd Term
10 February 1909 to October 1909… Wilhelm Peter Hansen, acting Governor1st Term
October 1909 to 27 August 1910Theodor Seitz, Governor4th Term
August 1910 to September 1910… Theodor Steinhausen, acting Governor 
September 1910 to 25 October 1910… Wilhelm Peter Hansen, acting Governor1st Term
25 October 1910 to October 1911Otto Gleim, Governor3rd Term
October 1911 to 29 March 1912… Wilhelm Peter Hansen, acting Governor2nd Term
29 March 1912 to 9 October 1913Karl Ebermaier, Governor1st Term
9 October 1913 to 1914… Full, acting Governor 
1914 to 4 March 1916Karl Ebermaier, Governor2nd Term
(April 1914)Occupation by Great Britain and France
4 March 1916Germany surrenders territory to occupying powers

See also


  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

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