The Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei as a profiteer of colonial rule

In the meantime, cotton had become one of the most important trade products on the world market. In 1907, the Baumwollspinnerei therefore made an attempt to become independent of cotton imports and to operate its own cotton plantations in Tanzania (then German East Africa). It hoped to be able to cover its entire annual cotton requirement, 30,000 bales, from its own plantations. According to their calculations, this required just as many hectares of land. After protracted negotiations, the Baumwollspinnerei was granted a 10,000-hectare lease from the governorate, and two adjacent areas were reserved. It also independently purchased a ginning mill (cotton ginnery) in Sadani, took over a 1,118-hectare existing plantation, and another 1,900 hectares of land. Roads and paths had to be created for the development, as well as places for shipping the cotton. In December 1908, the first 300 bales of the company's own cotton arrived in Leipzig. However, the hoped-for annual harvest repeatedly failed to materialize, and cotton cultivation in Sadani in northeastern Tanzania was abandoned again as early as 1913. The demand for raw materials in the textile industry throughout Europe at this time resulted in land grabbing, plantation farming and slavery overseas and in Africa. In 1908, for example, 800 African workers were employed on the plantation of the Baumwollspinnerei, and by 1910 as many as 2000 were working in the cultivation, harvesting and ginning of raw cotton for export to Leipzig.*

* The figures on workers on the cotton plantation according to the journal Der Tropenpflanzer (1909) “Deutsch-koloniale Baumwoll-Unternehmungen,” Sächs. Staatsarchiv, LBS No. 70; and from the file of the Reichskolonialamt, Bundesarchiv R1001/8190 Bl. 148. Thanks to Angelika Waniek for this information.