The Reichskolonialbund (RKB) (English: German Colonial League) was a collective body that absorbed all German colonial organizations during the time of the Third Reich. It was led by Franz Ritter von Epp.
The Reichskolonialbund was active between 1936 and 1943.
The purpose of the Reichskolonialbund was to reclaim the overseas colonies that Germany had lost as a result of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I. Whether the organizations that joined it did so freely, or were forced to do so in the name of Gleichschaltung, is a subject of much discussion.
The first efforts in that direction can be traced back to 1923. As a result, the Koloniale Reichsarbeitsgemeinschaft (KORAG), was established in 1925. This led to the foundation of the preliminary Reichskolonialbund in 1933. This establishment was made in two steps, the second one being its incorporation (Gliederung) into the Nazi Party structure, therefore many references give two different years for its foundation, 1933 and 1936.
The Reichskolonialbund was established on 13 June 1936 by the former governor of German East Africa, Dr. Heinrich Schnee and led by Ritter von Epp. Its alleged purpose was to '..."keep the population informed about the loss of the German Imperial colonies, to maintain contact with the former colonial territories and to create conditions in opinion favorable to a new German African Empire." At any rate, the foundation of the RKB was marred with difficulties, for only two months after its establishment, Rudolf Hess decreed its disbandment. The decree was revoked, however, in November the same year after lengthy negotiations.
As part of the Nazi triumphalism for the Third Reich, the Reichskolonialbund was intended to take over the role of the then-disbanded Germany Colonial Society, (Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft) (DKG). Since Germany had no colonies, the Reichskolonialbund was mainly engaged in mostly virulent political agitation.
The agitation was conducted largely in Germany in newspapers, magazines, conferences and "Colonial Exhibitions". This activity was meant to keep open the so-called Colonial Question (Kolonialfrage) and to gather funds for the organization. The most important regular weekly publications of the Reichskolonialbund between 1937 and 1943 were Kolonie und Heimat and the Deutsche Kolonialzeitung, the former mouthpiece of the German Colonial Company. The RKB also printed colorful posters for the advancement of its cause.
The Reichskolonialbund had its own youth organization, the Colonial Youth, which was incorporated as a wing of the Hitler Youth. Its members wore the regular Hitler Youth uniform with Reichskolonialbund badges and insignias. The youth regularly staged rallies and collected money for the colonial cause during the events organized by the Reichskolonialbund. Adult members of the Reichskolonialbund also wore a uniform during parades and rallies. Its design was inspired in the Schutztruppe uniforms of the German Imperial Era.
Twilight and endEdit
The decline of the Reichskolonialbund began with the onset of World War II, when the Nazi State focused on other priorities, foremost of which was the search for a Lebensraum in the East of Europe. Finally in 1943 the Reichsleiter Martin Bormann pressed for the dissolution of the Reichskolonialbund on the grounds of "kriegsunwichtiger Tätigkeit" ("activity irrelevant to the war"). Hence the Reichskolonialbund was swiftly disbanded by virtue of a decree of the Führer in 1943.
Perhaps owing to the dire war situation, the disbandment of the organization and its assets was harsh and without ceremony, almost equaling a requisition (Beschlagnahmung). Most of the Reichskolonialbund's files lie in the archives in Koblenz, where there are 5,140 documents belonging to this organization from the period ranging between 1925 and 1943.
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