Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. John D. Treadway

Second Advisor

Dr. John Gordon


In 1890, Germany and Great Britain concluded the Treaty of Helgoland-Zanzibar, which settled many of their numerous and complex colonial issues in Africa. The territorial exchange of British-held Helgoland and German-held Zanzibar, which was part of this agreement, had a major impact in its finalization. Indeed, without the Helgoland- Zanzibar swap, such a treaty most likely would never have occurred. Many hoped that the Helgoland-Zanzibar agreement would usher in a new era in Anglo-German friendship and, perhaps, lead to a formal alliance. Hence, during the 1880s, the seemingly unrelated questing of a North Sea island and imperialist jostling in East Africa played a significant role in Anglo-German relations. This thesis explores the reactions to the treaty before, during and after its negotiations and examines why an Anglo-Germany alliance never emerged following the treaty’s conclusion and what impact the settlement had upon the events leading to the outbreak of World War I.

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