Imperial Ambitions: The Campaign for Czechoslovak Colonies on the Eve of the Paris Peace Conference




Following the conclusion of World War I, questions were raised about the fate of Germany’s overseas territories. In the weeks leading up to the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919, plans circulated among the European powers about a mandate system in which former colonies would be placed under the “tutelage” of “advanced” European nations. This paper examines the campaign which took place during the first months of independence to appoint Czechoslovakia as a mandate power charged with overseeing Germany’s former colonies. By describing the actors behind the campaign and analyzing the rhetoric in the Czech-language press, the paper argues that the demand for Czechoslovak colonies was deeply intertwined with postwar debates about civilizational development and Czech leaders’ desire to demonstrate their nation’s capacity for self-rule.

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