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The 1925 German Second Ultimatum to Portugal was an oral ultimatum presented to Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro, Prime Minister of Portugal, by Alfred von Tirpitz, Reichskanzler of the German Empire, in late 1925. The Germans demanded that Portugal immediately withdraws from British Nyasaland, which had been occupied by Portuguese colonial forces during the ongoing British Revolution and the subsequent Collapse of the British Empire. Germany stipulated that the the British colonies were to be divided along the Zambezi river, from the Caprivi-Strip to the Indian Ocean, which meant that Nyasaland would become part of the German sphere.

After heavy discussions, Portugal reluctantly accepted the ultimatum, knowing that their allies in Ottawa and Algiers would not be able to support them in a hypothetical colonial war, and withdraw back to Mozambique. The Second Ultimatum would prove to be a humiliating loss of prestige for the young Kingdom and would lead to the coup of José Hipólito Raposo and the Integralismo Lusitano a few months later.

Historical context

European Colonies in Southern Africa (1925); Nyasaland (red)


The beginning of the British Revolution in March of 1925 meant that the British overseas colonies came under direct pressure from other nations. Both Germany as well as Portugal wanted to connect their African colonies by acquiring British possessions. Germany wished to continue its expansion of Mittelafrika and finally gain a land connection between German South West Africa and German East Africa and the Kongo. Portugal wished to take control of the territories it claimed in the "Pink Map" of 1885, which included Nyasaland and almost all of North and South Rhodesia.

Initially South Africa and Portugal, both members of the Entente and participants in the Weltkrieg as British allies, stepped in under the pretext of safeguarding British colonies from German annexation. The Statthalter of Mittelafrika, Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, quickly issued a warning that any aggression towards British possessions in Africa would destabilize the region and would not be tolerated. Both Portugal as well as South Africa largely ignored this statement, since it did not have any official backing from Berlin.

The chain of command (and supply) of the British military had shattered with the revolution. Lacking any orders from London the token forces that the United Kingdom had in its African colonies largely stood down when confronted by Portuguese and South African troops in Nyasaland and Bechuanaland respectively. The South Rhodesian colonial administration voted to join South Africa on April 15th as a member state of the union.

Second Ultimatum and German annexations


A German Askari planting the German colonial flag in newly-occupied British Nyasaland (1925)

Fearing a successful Entente landgrab in Southern Africa and after realizing that the British colonial forces did not resist occupation by South Africa and Portugal, Reichskanzler von Tirpitz officially presented King Manuel II of Portugal with the Second Ultimatum. It stated that the British colonies were to be divided along the Zambezi river, from the Caprivi-Strip to the Indian Ocean. This meant that the South African annexations of South Rhodesia and Bechuanaland would be tolerated but that Portugal would have to withdraw from Nyasaland or face military action by the German Empire.

Portugal accepted the ultimatum on June 4th, after realizing that the establishment of the Union of Britain seemed irreversible and knowing that support from the Entente for its cause was highly unlikely. Portugal handed over control of Nyasaland to Mittelafrika by late June.



After the handover of Nyasaland and the annexation of North Rhodesia, Germany was able to connect South West Africa with the rest of Mittelafrika.

Southern Africa after the Second Ultimatum (1925)

Portugal suffered a humiliating loss of prestige by being forced to accept the terms of the Second Ultimatum. In 1926 and as a result of the general discontent following the economic downturn in Portugal as well as the loss of colonial prestige, the Integralismo Lusitano movement sweeped the elections with its radical platform, and immeditaly set itself on reforming the Portuguese colonial administration.