Pre-colonial trade of enslaved people
German colonial history goes back a long way: although the German Empire did not take over rule over non-European territories until 1884, Brandenburg-Prussia already owned the so-called colony of ‘Groß Friedrichsburg’ on the Gulf of Guinea in what is now Ghana, West Africa, back in 1683.1,2 Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg founded the 'Brandenburg African Compagnie' (BAC) a year earlier, thus laying the foundation for German participation in the transatlantic trade in enslaved people.2
To accomplish this, the Elector even leased his own slave market in the Caribbean in 1685 on the island of St. Thomas, which had been colonized by Denmark. Ships of the trading company first exchanged goods from Europe for enslaved African people in Africa, who were then shipped by the hundreds, crammed below deck, across the Atlantic to St. Thomas.2,3 There, the enslaved people were sold, and the ships loaded with sugar, cocoa, or cotton, which were in high demand in Europe. With this triangular trade between Africa, America and Europe, the trading company made between 300 and 400 percent profit and thus also laid a foundation for the rich design of the palaces in Potsdam. An estimated 30,000 children, women and men in total were taken from the West African coast and thus forced into enslavement.1,2 In the long run, however, the Electorate was too small for its big dreams and Brandenburg ultimately failed with the colony. In 1711, Prussian King Frederick I dissolved the trading company. The ruins of the Brandenburg colonial fortress in what is now Pokeso or Princes Town/Ghana are now a Unesco World Heritage Site.1
Frederick William (16.2.1620 - 9.5.1688) was Elector of Brandenburg from 1640, where he established a standing army. He received the nickname "Great Elector" after defeating the Swedes at the Battle of Fehrbellin in June 1675. His policy of religious tolerance brought about 20,000 Huguenots into the country around 1685, which was an important contribution to economic and cultural recovery.4 His inglorious role in the enslavement trade is far less well known.
 Haase, Jana: Toleranz und Sklavenhandel. Kolonialgeschichte ist in der HBPG-Dauerausstellung kein Thema: Migrantenvertreter kritisieren das. In: Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten
2011. Online verfügbar unter www.tagesspiegel.de/potsdam/landeshauptstadt/toleranz-und-sklavenhandel-7532632.html, zuletzt geprüft am 09.02.2023.
 Carpus e. V. (Hg.) (2017): Kolonialrassismus und Widerstand. Globales (Geschichts-)Lernen in Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig und Potsdam. 1. Auflage. Online verfügbar unter leipzig-postkolonial.de/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Kolonialrassismus-und-Widerstand-Broschuere-2017-1.pdf, zuletzt geprüft am 08.02.2023.
 Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (2016): Sklaverei und Sklavenhandel. Unter Mitarbeit von Sebastian Jobs. Online verfügbar unter www.bpb.de/themen/kolonialismus-imperialismus/postkolonialismus-und-globalgeschichte/219137/sklaverei-und-sklavenhandel/, zuletzt geprüft am 09.02.2023.
 Friedrich Wilhelm (Brandenburg). wikipedia. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Wilhelm_(Brandenburg), zuletzt geprüft am 27.03.2023.