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Old 01-30-2012, 11:26 PM
57 posts, read 304,301 times
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Did the Germans ever own African slaves?
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:11 AM
Location: Sierra Vista, AZ
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I don't know about formal slavery but I am sure conditions in some of the african colonies, like working in the diamond mines of German Southwest Africa (Namibia) were pretty close
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:26 AM
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This is a letter from Frank Weston, the English Bishop and missionary to German East Africa that describes the general state of affairs in the German colony in 1918. In particular he is pleading that the British not give up their promise to fully annex the German colonies as an outcome of WW1.

The Black Slaves of Prussia, by Frank Weston (1918)

Essentially, no, the Germans did not practice formal slavery, in that the Germans themselves did not own slaves. They also forbade the taking/creation of any new slaves under their rule, but did allow existing slaves (owned by the Africans) to continue to exist as slaves and considred their children slaves as well as was the East African custom. What they did insist on was a system wherein a slave could buy their freedom for a set price. In practice, this basically led to a system of virtual slavery that even the Germans participated in.

If you were a German planter or officer, etc. and desired a laborer or woman, you would go to the local tribal chief and purchase some of his slaves. You would hold onto their certificate of freedom and force them to work or accompany you until they were no longer useful and then they were given their certificate and allowed to go on their way.

So, the German government officially did not support slavery (they even issued decrees stating it), but they turned a blind eye to the practice of virtual slavery that was common. You basically ended up with a tiered system:

African Leaders and Africans who worked with Germans.
Regular Africans
Freed Slaves paying off debt in a form of unofficial indentured servitude that were owned by Germans.
Slaves owned by African leaders that were often sold to the Germans or rented out as labor.
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Old 01-31-2012, 09:41 AM
Location: North Carolina
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The Anabaptist Swiss/Germans such as the Mennonites and Amish did not practise slavery, it went against their beliefs. They and the Quakers are the reason PA had such a long history of being anti-slavery.
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Old 02-02-2012, 04:34 AM
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All powerful Europeans during many centuries had black slaves at their service. It was a suntuary sign and those blacks were above European commoners.

In Catalonia, I know that a minor aristocrat owned a black that he used to scare his subjects and make them pay taxes during the XIVth Century.

In Catalonia, and elsewhere in Western Europe during the XIVth and XVth, the most popular slaves were Russian girls bought at the age of puberty to Ottoman traders.
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Old 02-02-2012, 03:53 PM
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allAfrica.com: Namibia: Germany's Lindner Apologises
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Old 02-05-2012, 12:57 AM
Location: Berwick, Penna.
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Both sides in the Civil War had pockets of resistance and/or pacifism where suppport for the war effort was limited or niil.

In the north, one was in rural Pennsylvania, spawning ground of General George McClellan. Many of the early settlers (C. 1840) were German immgrants who'd suffered heavily during the Napoleanic Wars. If you're intersted, google the term "Fishing Creek Confederacy".

And in paralell, many areas in West-Central North Carolina also were settled by German Calvinists who were uncomfortable with slavery. One of the most prominent was known as "Wachovia" and later gave its name to what was (for a long time, but no longer) a very successful bank.
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Old 02-05-2012, 01:38 PM
Location: Cali
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Germans immigrants and German Americans were pretty much anti-slavery from what I've read in books.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:23 AM
Location: "Daytonnati"
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There might have been slaveholding in the South by some of the German immigrants who were not necessarily religously opposed. Good question, btw.
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Old 02-07-2012, 01:50 AM
Location: Peterborough, England
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Iirc the Great Elector acquired some trading posts in West Africa in the 17C. There were almost certainly slaves there.

His grandson King Frederick William I sold the posts to England.
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