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German lease area Kiautschou
Location German lease area Kiautschou
Flags in the colonies of the German Empire # Flags from 1891
Federal coat of arms of Germany # German Empire
( Details ) ( Details )
Capital : Berlin , German Empire
Administrative headquarters: Tsingtau
Administrative organization: by the Reichsmarineamt
Head of the colony: Kaiser Wilhelm II ,
represented by the governor
Colony Governor: Carl Rosendahl (1898–1899)
Paul Jaeschke (1899–1901)
Max Rollmann (1901)
Oskar von Truppel (1901–1911)
Alfred Meyer-Waldeck (1911–1914)
Residents: 200,000, approx. 400 Germans (1912 each)
Currency: Silver currency , most common Kurant coin : Mexican peso ("dollar") and local tael
Takeover: 1897-1914
Today's areas: Part of the People's Republic of China

Kiautschou ( Chinese  膠州 , Pinyin Jiāozhōu ) was an area in the south of the Shandong Peninsula on the east coast of China that was leased from the Chinese Empire to the German Empire in 1898 .

The capital was Tsingtau (today mostly written Qingdao - German : "green island"). The town of Kiautschou northwest of the bay was not part of the colony, but was in the area of ​​the neutral zone around the colony, which was under German control .

The reason for the acquisition of the colony by enforcing the lease agreement of March 6, 1898 with China was the desire for a naval base for the Imperial Navy in East Asia . Georg Franzius was entrusted with the investigation . During the First World War , Kiautschou came under the administration of the Japanese Empire after the siege of Tsingtau in November 1914 .


Lease area

The lease area comprised the water surface of the Bay of Kiautschou up to the highest water level and the two peninsulas on both sides of the entrance of this bay. In addition, there was the offshore coastal waters. The area had a size of 552 km², roughly that of Lake Constance . This also included 25 islands, with the two largest islands in the bay being part of the mainland today. The city of Kiautschou was not part of the lease area, it was located in a neutral zone for which an area of ​​50 km around the bay was agreed.

After the occupation of the bay, Otto von Diederichs ordered a right of first refusal for all land in the leased area and thus acquired the land on which the city of Tsingtau was to be built. The city of Tsingtau was divided into a European and a Chinese quarter. For the Chinese in Tsingtau, the “Ordinance regarding the Chinese order for the urban area of ​​Tsingtau” had been in effect since July 1900, while German law was in force for the Europeans. The "European" district was built in the Wilhelmine style, while the "Chinese" district was built in the local style. In addition, a port with a shipyard , a train station, a university and various factories were built. Barracks and other military infrastructure were built, a military hospital built by the Berlin Evangelical Mission , a court, several schools, an Evangelical church, a post office, a power station, a branch of the German-Asian Bank and the government building.

Panorama at Hoa jun an monastery, 1904

In 1897 only about 83,000 people lived in the future lease area. With the development of the city of Tsingtau, its population grew rapidly from approx. 15,600 in 1902 to over 55,000 in 1913. The development in the rest of the leased area with its around 275 villages was similar. By 1913 the total number of residents had grown to around 200,000. The non-Chinese population of Kiautschou was mainly concentrated in Tsingtau and its immediate vicinity and developed moderately. In 1913 their number was around 4,500, the majority of them marines. In 1910, for example, there were 2,275 members of the military occupation compared to 1,531 civilians, in 1913 then 2,401 compared to 2,069, more than 90% of whom were of German nationality.


Around the leased area there was a “neutral zone” of 50 kilometers around the bay, in which German troops were allowed to move freely and Chinese orders could be given with German approval. To the east lies the Lao Shan Mountains, which at that time were largely deforested and suffered from erosion.

A railway connection ( Shantung Railway ) was built from Tsingtau to the provincial capital Jinan , which is about halfway to Beijing further north. Since mining was allowed to be carried out on both sides of the railway line for 15 kilometers, the route to Tsingtau was laid in such a way that several coal areas and an iron ore area could be developed.

The German sphere of influence and interests thus encompassed the southwest of the Shantung Province and was sometimes also referred to as German China . In the northeast of the province of Shantung, about 250 km away, on the other hand, was the British leasehold area Weihaiwei , while the then also British Hong Kong and the Portuguese Macau were not on the Yellow Sea on the northeast coast of China in the vicinity of Korea, but more than 1,600 km away together with Taiwan , the Philippines and Vietnam are on the South China Sea .


Governor's flag (since 1898)
The Reichsdienstflagge of the Navy (flag of all civil institutions in Kiautschou)

Due to its main function as a naval base for the Imperial Navy , the area not from was Reichskolonialamt but by the Admiralty managed. At the head of the colony stood the governor (always a naval officer), who was directly responsible to the State Secretary of the RMA, Grand Admiral Alfred Freiherr von Tirpitz . In addition to the military, there was civil administration within the protected area. The former was headed by the chief of staff (the governor's deputy), the latter by the civil commissioner , both of whom were subordinate to the governor. Other important functionaries of the colony were the port construction officer and from 1900 the imperial judge and the commissioner for Chinese affairs . The governor's council and, from 1902, the Chinese committee acted as advisory bodies to the governor . The finance, construction and hospital departments were directly subordinate to the governor, as these were the most important in terms of the concept of the “ model colony ”. Since the colony was primarily intended to serve naval propaganda, great importance was attached to economic (and later also cultural) development. However, the first governor, Carl Rosendahl , neglected these aspects and took care of the military base of the base. In 1899 he was therefore replaced by Paul Jaeschke , during whose tenure the development of the colony progressed rapidly. During the German colonial era, 26 elementary schools, a government school, 10 mission schools, a special college and 4 vocational schools were founded.


Background of the expansion to China

Contemporary postcard: The tank frigate SMS Deutschland and the small cruiser SMS Gefion ; bottom left the harbor entrance to Kiautschou. (before 1899)

In the course of the further development of colonialism to imperialism , a civilizational awareness of mission arose in the German Reich . This was particularly influential in the establishment of a German colony in China and was one of the most important impulses for this. Added to this was the colonialist view that the establishment of colonies was the best way to support the economy in the mother country. With this, densely populated China came into the focus of German colonial agitation as a potential sales market . Thinkers like Max Weber called on the state to pursue an active colonial policy in the world. In particular, the development of China was stylized as a question of survival, as it was considered the most important non-European trading area.

However, world politics without global military power seemed impracticable, which is why a fleet, the first beginnings of which were the East Asian Squadron and the deep-sea fleet stationed in Europe , was built. This fleet was supposed to emphasize German interests in peacetime ( gunboat diplomacy ) and protect German trade routes during war or disrupt the opposing routes (cruiser war concept). A network of global bases was the first condition for these plans.

The acquisition of a port in China should, however, fulfill another point: In view of the heavy burdens caused by the fleet plans, a Chinese colony should also advertise the German fleet in the Reich. That is why Kiautschou was subjected to the concept of a model colony from the beginning: All facilities, administration, use and the like should show the Chinese, Germans and the world the particularly effective German colonial policy.

Occupation of the bay

Lease area Kiautschou Bay

As early as 1860, a Prussian squadron reached East Asia and explored the area around the Kiautschou Bay. In the following year a Sino-Prussian trade agreement was signed. After his trips to China between 1868 and 1871, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen recommended the Bay of Kiautschou as a possible German naval base . In 1896, Admiral von Tirpitz , then chief of the East Asian Squadron, examined the region.

When on November 1, 1897 two German missionaries from the Steyler Mission , whose protection the Reich had already taken over in 1890 , were murdered in an assassination known as the Juye incident , Kaiser Wilhelm II took this as an opportunity to occupy the bay. Even before the Chinese government learned of the murder, the head of the East Asian Cruiser Division , Rear Admiral Otto von Diederichs , received an imperial order to carry out the occupation. On November 14, a landing corps of the cruiser division under Captain Hugo Zeye went ashore in the bay and occupied it without a fight. The Diederichsstein memorial was later dedicated to the occupation . China tried unsuccessfully to obtain a withdrawal of the troops. The German-Chinese negotiations began on November 20, which resulted in the settlement of the mission incident on January 15, 1898. A few months later, on March 6, 1898, the German Empire leased the bay from the Chinese government for 99 years. Almost six weeks later, on April 27, 1898, it was officially placed under German protection. At that time the region had about 83,000 inhabitants.

As a result of the German-Chinese lease agreement, the Chinese government gave up all sovereign rights within the lease area (to which the city of Kiautschou did not belong) and a 50 km wide security zone. The Kiautschou governorate remained part of China, but passed into German ownership. In addition, the Chinese government granted the German Reich concessions to build two railway lines and to mine local coal deposits. The parts of Shandong outside the colony also became the German sphere of influence. Although the lease set limits to German expansion, it became the starting point for the subsequent assignment of Port Arthur to Russia , Weihai to Great Britain and Kwangtschouwan to France .

German lease port

Harbor (1914)

The administration was not subordinate to the Reich Colonial Office , but to the Reich Navy Office . In 1898 a German postal agency was set up. In 1899 there was a fortnightly mail steamer connection to Shanghai . Kiautschou became a model example of German colonial policy: in 1914 the capital of the colony, the former fishing village Tsingtao , had over 60,000 inhabitants, had a natural harbor, drinking water systems and the Tsingtao brewery . In 1909 the German-Chinese University was founded. The city was connected to the telegraph and rail network. Since the completion of the Tsingtao – Tsinan railway in 1904, Kiautschou could be reached from Germany via the Trans-Siberian Railway ; the travel time was about 13 days.

Large parts of the German public had high expectations of the acquisition of Kiautschou. They ranged from the opening of the huge Chinese market for German trade, to maritime international status, to the emergence of a brilliant colonial empire . In reality, these expectations could not be met in the short period of the colony's existence from 1898 to 1914. Kiautschou himself quickly turned out to be a bottomless financial pitcher: In the first ten years after 1897, the Reich grants amounted to 100 million Reichsmarks , the income did not even reach a tenth.

First World War

Kiautschou was at the beginning of the First World War by the III. Sea battalion occupied (1,400 men), which was reinforced by 3,400 reservists and volunteers at the beginning of the war. On August 10, 1914, Japan issued an ultimatum demanding the complete surrender of the area. On August 15th it repeated its request. The governor , sea captain Alfred Meyer-Waldeck , left the ultimatum unanswered and was determined to “defend the leased area to the utmost”.

On August 27, Japanese and British warships opened a blockade, and on September 2, the first allies (4,300 men) landed in China. On September 26, assaults began on the German positions, but they were successfully repulsed. After the unsuccessful attacks, the Allies drew a siege ring around the fortress , so that the lease area was completely enclosed by September 28th. Since October, the Allied troops have been steadily reinforced until finally over 60,000 men. On October 31, after nine days of continuous artillery fire, the Allies began a large-scale attack on the fortress, which in turn was repulsed. The initially successful defense was based in part on the successful aerial reconnaissance by the naval aviator Gunther Plüschow , who became known as Der Flieger von Tsingtau .

At the beginning of November the trapped German defenders ran out of ammunition, whereupon it was decided to destroy all artillery and combat boats. On November 7, 1914, the capitulation and the occupation by Japan finally took place.

The German defenders were taken prisoner of war in Japan . They lived there in several camps and some were not released from captivity until 1920. The most famous camps were Matsuyama and Bandō .

After the surrender of Kiautschou, the powers of the German governorate in Kiautschou were transferred from the German government to the German embassy in Beijing under Paul von Hintze , who was ambassador in Beijing from 1915 until the Chinese declaration of war on Germany in August 1917.

50 Pfennig emergency note from 1922. The text laments the loss of the Kiautschou colony after the Treaty of Versailles.

After the First World War

The Treaty of Versailles determined that Germany had to cede all colonies, including Kiautschou. The area remained under Japanese administration until 1922 before it was returned to China at the urging of the US . The provisions of the Versailles Treaty resulted in violent student protests in China in 1919. These protests are known as the May 4th Movement and have had far-reaching consequences for Chinese culture and society.


Trade statistics (in dollars )
Year †† Import of goods export Total
of Chinese
1899/1900 00945,000 03,383,000 01,650,000 05,928,000
1900/01 01,803,000 03,600,000 04,320,000 09,723,000
1901/02 04,217,000 02,512,500 02,644,500 09,374,000
1902/03 08,320,069 04,502,395 04,454,568 17,276,732
1903/04 11,985,041 05,501,887 07,374,334 24,862,252
1904/05 16,339,478 06,095,646 09,991,472 32,426,596
1905/06 22,269,057 06,796,528 10,385,375 39.450.970
1906/07 27.239.943 09,208,650 15,143,847 51,592,449
1907/08 21,449,510 09,838,297 18,416,548 49,704,985
1908/09 25,463,680 13.106.701 26,449,426 65,019,877
1909/10 25,800,000 09,100,000 29,200,000 64,109,000
1910/11 28,700,000 08,400,000 32,300,000 69,400,000
1911/12 30,903,000 22,000,000 37,000,000 90,000,000
1 dollar (Mexican) = about 2 marks
†† beginning on October 1st
A journey through the German colonies - Kiautschou , hrg. of colony and homeland (1912)
Postage stamp from the Kiautschou colony in Chinese cents (1905)
Postage stamp in pfennig (design: Emperor's yacht Hohenzollern )
Postcard (1900)

“As we have seen, our East Asian colony is not an independent economic area. The land we leased from the Chinese is of little value in its small size. It only became valuable because we made it through our transport facilities to the port of entry and exit in the hinterland, the province of Shantung . So Tsingtau is - apart from its capacity as a naval station - initially a trading center, but will probably become an industrial center over time, when the province of Shantung has developed more. We are already trying to prepare the ground for this development by taking suitable measures. First and foremost by the fact that the lease area was annexed to the Chinese customs area on January 1, 1906. In the past, customs clearance of imported goods only took place at the national border. Now only the narrower area of ​​the Great Port is free port district, and customs clearance takes place at the port. The aim is to save industrial companies in our colony that process the raw materials of the hinterland and also want to sell their products there. "

- COLONY AND HOME. A journey through the German colonies

Kiautschou, the "place in the sun", cost the German Empire millions of dollars every year. The area never achieved a positive trade balance. In the 1901 budget the grant was £ 537,500 out of a budget of £ 552,500.


In addition to the money spent in the German Reich, there were banknotes from the German-Asian Bank of 1, 5, 10 and 20 tael since 1907 , the shantung version of which, in addition to copper cash, was in general circulation. The mortgage bank was only allowed to lend real estate in the consular concession and the actual protectorate and had to pay a 25% tax for this.


Initially, the entire area was outside the (foreign controlled) Chinese customs administration. In 1906, an agreement was signed according to which all goods that left the small free trade zone had to be declared according to the Chinese tariff. The German customs officers were considered employees of the Chinese customs administration. Imports grew from £ 4.1 million (of which 1.04 million from China) by the peak year of 1912 to £ 6.06 million (1.62 million from China). The most important goods from China were paper, food and cotton products. Machines, cigarettes, matches and aniline paint came from Germany. Most of the sugar and petroleum were imported from the Dutch East Indies . Japan concluded a new economic agreement with China as early as 1915.

Commercial enterprises

The Chinese small businesses were organized as part of traditional guilds, which only local residents were allowed to join. They mainly operated basket weaving and traded fruit and food for regional needs. As everywhere in China, compradors acted as middlemen who usually received a 1% commission.

The German-Chinese silk industry founded in 1906 (capital £ 100,000) was able to process 200,000 cocoons of a special silk from worms fed on oak leaves on 130 machines in 1911 . In 1908 a cotton mill opened in the suburb of Chi-mo-hsien. Karl Elbers and Columbia produced albumin . H. Diederichsen & Co. operated a brick factory . Smaller businesses produced soap and soda water . In terms of breweries , there were Gomoll and Germania, offshoots of the Anglo-German Brewery Co. (Hong Kong), from which the large Chinese brewery Tsingtao emerged .

The main reason for the acquisition of the lease area was the rich coal deposits , which were exploited by the Chinese Ching Hsing Coal Co. (founded in 1880), the Schantung mining company and the German Society for Mining and Industry Abroad (founded in 1900 in Berlin). The Schantung Railway took care of the transport .


In Germany, a number of objects or facilities are named after Kiautschou:

See also


  • Jork Artelt: Tsingtau: German city and fortress in China 1897-1914 . Düsseldorf 1984, ISBN 3770006461
  • Dirk Bittner: Great illustrated story of Kiautschou . Melchior Verlag, 2012, ISBN 3-942562-61-8 .
  • Cord Eberspächer: The German Yangtze Patrol. German gunboat policy in China in the age of imperialism . Bochum 2004, ISBN 3-89911-006-4 .
  • Georg Franzius : Kiautschou. Germany's acquisition in East Asia . Schall & Grund, Berlin 1898. (Digitized: [1] )
  • Sabina Groeneveld: Second home Tsingtau: Qingdao (1897–1914) in the mirror of German personal reports. (= Transpositions: Australian studies on German literature, philosophy and culture. Vol. 11). Röhrig Universitätsverlag, St. Ingbert 2019, ISBN 3-86110-739-2 (Also: Sydney, University, Dissertation, 2015).
  • Heiko Herold: German colonial and economic policy in China 1840 to 1914. With special consideration of the marine colony Kiautschou . 2nd Edition. Cologne 2006, ISBN 3-939424-00-5
  • Chun-Shik Kim: German cultural imperialism in China. German colonial schools in Kiautschou (China) 1898–1914 . Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-515-08570-X
  • Kiaochow and Weihaiwei; (Peace-Handbooks ... of the Foreign Office.); London 1920 (HM Stationery Office)
  • Mechthild Leutner: Kiautschou - German "model colony" in China? In: Ulrich van der Heyden, Joachim Zeller (ed.) “… Power and share in world domination.” Berlin and German colonialism . Unrast-Verlag, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-89771-024-2
  • Regulation DE 12 - Organizational provisions for the crew of the Kiautschou protected area and its chiefs . 1911
  • German Colonial Society: Small German Colonial Atlas . Publishing house Dietrich Reimer, Berlin 1899
  • Torsten Warner: German Architecture in China - Architecture Transfer . Ernst & Sohn, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-433-02429-4 , 328 pages (German, English, Chinese)
  • Torsten Warner: The planning and development of the German city foundation Qingdao (Tsingtau) in China. Dealing with the stranger. Dissertation at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg. Hamburg 1996
  • Reichsmarineamt (Ed.): Memorandum on the development of the Kiautschou area . Berlin 1902–1910 ( 1900/1901 , 1901/1902 , 1902/1903 , 1903/1904 , 1904/1905 , 1905/1906 , 1907/1908 , 1908/1909 ).


  • Dietmar Schulz: Tsingtau - On the German trail in China . Germany 2008. (Documentation)

Web links

Commons : Kiautschou  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Kiautschou  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. German dollars for Tsingtau. Accessed May 27, 2014.
  2. Bernd G. Längin : The German Colonies - Schauplätze und Schicksale 1884-1918 . Mittler, Hamburg / Berlin / Bonn 2005, ISBN 3-8132-0854-0 , p. 282.
  3. Klaus Mühlhahn: Rule and Resistance in the "Model Colony" Kiautschou . ISBN 3-486-56465-X , pp. 229-235
  4. ^ Wolfgang U. Eckart : Medicine and colonial imperialism. Germany 1884–1924 , Schöningh Paderborn 1997, here: Kiautschou , pp. 458–1945.
  5. ^ Bibliotheca Geographica . Volume 13. Society for Geography in Berlin; WH Kuhl, Berlin 1908, p. 323.
  6. ^ Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg: Schantung and German-China . JJ Weber, Leipzig 1898 ( ).
  7. a b Treaty between the German Empire and China regarding the transfer of Kiautschou. From March 6, 1898. Also: the highest decree, regarding Kiautschou's declaration on protected areas. From April 27, 1898. And: Ordinance concerning the legal situation in Kiautschou. From April 27, 1898. In: Marine-Rundschau , Issues 7 to 12 (July to December 1898), pp. 835–839 (digital p. 13–18) ( Memento on the Internet Archive )
  8. cf. Georg Jellinek : The state and international law position of Kiautschou . In: DJZ 1898, p. 253ff. MPIER -
  9. Kiautschou . In: German Colonial Handbook . 13th edition. Hermann Paetel Verlag, Berlin 1913, p. 51 .
  10. COLONY AND HOME. A journey through the German colonies . Volume VI .: Kiautschou. Published by the illustrated magazine "Kolonie und Heimat", Kolonie und Heimat Verlagsgesellschaft, Berlin 1912

Coordinates: 36 ° 7 '  N , 120 ° 15'  E