The First World War, devastating in its severity and loss of life, is often confined in our historical thinking to the battlefields of Europe. This devastation, however, reached every ocean and continent and involved action from peoples far removed from the crises in Europe. One arena of conflict usually ignored or deemed insignificant is the African colonies. Battles for European colonies erupted all over the continent and were themselves extremely varied. This study will focus on activity in German East Africa and Allied attempts to conquer this rich colony. Though thousands of miles away from the Somme and Passchendaele, campaigns in German East Africa were significant to the overall conflict in their use of supplies, holding of important territory and of course the great loss of life not only among Europeans fighting for their colonies, but also African civilians in a war over their homelands. The East African campaign brought new complexities to the war that was not present in Europe. Native involvement and the continuous lust of colonialism changed the war in Africa as well as the way Allied civilians understood it. Through examination of four mainstream newspapers, The Times in London, The London Gazette, The Spectator, and The New York Times, insight can be gained into these complexities. Significance can be found not only in what news of the East African campaign was reported in these papers, but also in their silences, which in some cases were very great. Reading into newspaper coverage of East African campaigns we can see patterns in Allied portrayal of their losses, German gains, and the German character itself. This news also can be used as a lens to view Allied understanding of colonialism, slavery and Africa itself.
[...] Two native porters were also killed.” In one article of The Times the reporter makes clear “Nine-Tenths of the enemy's white personnel has either been killed or has fallen into our hands” There was a double-sided portrayal of protectionism yet racism against the natives of Africa in the twentieth century and it is evident in the articles of all three British newspapers . A second common theme in these reports is a stress on the difficulty of an African war. The need to distinguish African battle from European ones was evident throughout the coverage by The New York Times, The Times, The London Gazette, and The Spectator. [...]
[...] For example after a decisive battle in April 1916 The New York Times included two articles and report “General Van der Venter's success in the Arusha district was more extensive than at first appeared.” In their lack of news coverage and indecisive or uninformative articles, The Times, The Spectator and The London Gazette portrayed a scattered and unorganized understanding of the campaign's progress. Second in it's coverage of German East Africa campaigns is the London Gazette. This was a valuable source of information as it is a paper describing government reports and activity. [...]
[...] Reports of German offensive action or re-advancement especially tended to be excluded from The Times, The Spectator and the London Gazette . For example these sources remained silent on May 12th and 13th 1916 while The New York Times included articles such as “Germans in Africa Reinforced” and “Germans in Africa Attack the British”. Similarly, when the German Secretary of State for the Colonies reported that Germany still held “considerable territory” and were “resisting strongly” in October of 1916, British sources chose not to include this information while The New York Times printed an article called “Germans Still Fighting in Africa” The silence in British news in reporting German activity or Allied losses in German East Africa is significant. [...]
[...] The New York Times, The Times, The London Gazette, and The Spectator are valuable sources for understanding the complexity of the German East African campaign, not only in what they say but more significantly in what they do not say. Bibliography Gardner, Brian. On To Kilimanjaro: The Bizarre Story of the First World War in East Africa. Philadelphia : Macrae Smith Co. . P.12. Lettow-Vorbeck, von Paul Emil. My Reminisces of East Africa. London, Hurst The London Gazette, London. November 1914 - November 1918. [...]
[...] Rather than supplementing the majority of historian's theses, the news coverage in The New York Times, The Times, The London Gazette, and The Spectator prove that scheming and planning for further colonial growth continued well into the war. Furthermore, many historians cite “colonial hunger” as one of the causes of the war in the first place. For example in 1915 The New York Times published a review and summary of Evans Lewin's book The Dark Continent. The report sided with Lewin in his conviction that Germany's goal in invading Belgium in 1914 was eventual control of the rich Belgian Congo Basin. The articles all four newspapers included about renegotiation of African holdings show the desire to further the colonial scramble. [...]
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