Could European Colonies Make A Break For Independence During World War I And/Or WWII?

Could it be possible that during both world wars (or only one of them) that the wars would be so severe for the European powers that the European colonies and other territories controlled by European powers (e.g., Russian/Soviet Central Asia) would revolt in an attempt for independence? What kept them from doing that in OTL? And could it actually be possible for something of that sort to happen?

How does this impact decolonization and the histories of the Third World of this happens? What movements and attempts would be successful? And how does this affect Europe and world history in general?
 
The First Indochinese War started because of France trying to reestablish control over a colony they lost during the war to Japan.

Whether or not you want to count the nascent anti-Japanese resistance as a break for independence, if you had a war where Japan wasn't looking to invade European colonies, you might still see an independence movement in Indochina take up arms.

It's probably possible to get India and Indonesia to make a break for it depending on the situation.

I don't know how exactly Africa gets in a position to rebel, but someone on the forum probably does.

The wonderful thing about colonial independence movements is that they're always there and you just need the situation to arise where they put their mission into action.
 
The First Indochinese War started because of France trying to reestablish control over a colony they lost during the war to Japan.

Whether or not you want to count the nascent anti-Japanese resistance as a break for independence, if you had a war where Japan wasn't looking to invade European colonies, you might still see an independence movement in Indochina take up arms.

It's probably possible to get India and Indonesia to make a break for it depending on the situation.

I don't know how exactly Africa gets in a position to rebel, but someone on the forum probably does.

The wonderful thing about colonial independence movements is that they're always there and you just need the situation to arise where they put their mission into action.

Never thought about Japan, though considering the position they were in they didn’t really face super serious opposition until the US came along.

It’s surprising that when France fell to the Nazis that most French colonies didn’t seize the opportunity for independence. Likewise when Belgium and the Netherlands were being overrun. Twice.
 

Lusitania

Donor
The issue was these colonies did not have non European leaders and educated professionals yet. That came along after the war.
 
WW1 already had tons of active anti-colonialist movements in Africa: the Kaocen Revolt, Darfur, the Dervish, the Senussi, the Zaian, the Maritz rebellion (kinda) etc. Some of them were already active before the war, or were supported by the enemy, but they happened nevertheless. If some were successful due to the war, it could potentially lead to a domino effect.
 
Which war?
Both wars pushed the colonies towards independence but WW2 forced the colonial powers into quite serious commitments for self-governance.

It’s worth pointing out that at least for Africa the colonial period was only half a century.

It was only in the interwar period that a significant minority of Africans were coming of age with a western missionary education.

It was these people who pushed for commitments towards self-governance as the price of colonial loyalty & sacrifice in WW2, and it was also these people who led the successful nationalism movements.

That’s not to say non-western educated elites hadn’t been involved or even leading struggles for independence. But missionary education allowed Africans to better manipulate and engage with colonial government. Because Europeans were so dismissive of the demands of non-educated blacks. those earlier movements were unable to negotiate successfully.
 

HJ Tulp

Donor
The issue was these colonies did not have non European leaders and educated professionals yet. That came along after the war.

This was certainly the case in Africa. In Asia there were pretty capable cadres available in the European countries though.

One shouldn't underestimate the hold the colonialists had on the various territories. Everywhere they were supported by local elites and parts of the general population, often minorities like the Moluccans in Indonesia. The colonies were usually pretty self-sustainable in term of internal security as the existence of the Indian Army and the KNIL shows. Militarily and politically the colonial governments were in danger once outside forces (such as Japan) came knocking.
 
Rather difficult. Maybe if things, really, really, REALLY go south for the nations of Europe. Like, a complete and total collapse of the countries. Would this be possible without nuclear war?
 

HJ Tulp

Donor
Rather difficult. Maybe if things, really, really, REALLY go south for the nations of Europe. Like, a complete and total collapse of the countries. Would this be possible without nuclear war?

The Netherlands and Belgium were militarily crushed and their countries were occupied by the Germans. It can't really get worse can it?
 
In April 1941, a anti-British group in Iraq called the Golden Square overthrew the British-aligned regent of Iraq, 'Abd-al-Illah, in an attempt to achieve full independence, rather than the vassal status it had acquired in 1932 under the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. This was backed by Germany and Italy.

One month later, the British overthrew this government and re-installed the overthrown regent, maintaining a occupation force in Iraq until 1947.

Unless the British Empire was in serious disarray, there was no way any of their colonies or vassals could escape from the Empire's thumb, especially if they sat on top of something important to the British war effort. In Iraq's case, oil.
 
The Netherlands and Belgium were militarily crushed and their countries were occupied by the Germans. It can't really get worse can it?
I mean collapsing into a many sided civil war like in Syria and Lebanon.

In April 1941, a anti-British group in Iraq called the Golden Square overthrew the British-aligned regent of Iraq, 'Abd-al-Illah, in an attempt to achieve full independence, rather than the vassal status it had acquired in 1932 under the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. This was backed by Germany and Italy.

One month later, the British overthrew this government and re-installed the overthrown regent, maintaining a occupation force in Iraq until 1947.

Unless the British Empire was in serious disarray, there was no way any of their colonies or vassals could escape from the Empire's thumb, especially if they sat on top of something important to the British war effort. In Iraq's case, oil.
Would there be any way to create serious disarray in Britain? Like, maybe some civil war or some mainland invasion?
 
I mean collapsing into a many sided civil war like in Syria and Lebanon.


Would there be any way to create serious disarray in Britain? Like, maybe some civil war or some mainland invasion?

I am not sure. Fascism never caught on in Britain (The British Union of Fascists never achieved any electoral success despite Mosely's credentials) and a mainland invasion was almost impossible for the Germans because of the size of the Kriegsmarine in comparison to the Royal Navy (not to mention it did not have the capability for a D-Day style invasion). I'm thinking some kind of decisive strike against the heart of the British Empire, something only a atomic bomb or a chemical/biological warfare attack could be capable of. I'm thinking more the latter, since the Germans dragged their feet on the atomic bomb program and even made some blunders in the project (Using heavy water instead of graphite roads to moderate the energy in chain reactions for example).
 
I am not sure. Fascism never caught on in Britain (The British Union of Fascists never achieved any electoral success despite Mosely's credentials) and a mainland invasion was almost impossible for the Germans because of the size of the Kriegsmarine in comparison to the Royal Navy (not to mention it did not have the capability for a D-Day style invasion). I'm thinking some kind of decisive strike against the heart of the British Empire, something only a atomic bomb or a chemical/biological warfare attack could be capable of. I'm thinking more the latter, since the Germans dragged their feet on the atomic bomb program and even made some blunders in the project (Using heavy water instead of graphite roads to moderate the energy in chain reactions for example).
What would be the result of Germany going all out with chemical/biological weapons on Britain? And what colonies would make a break for it? Probably India first.
 
If they tried to break away in WW2 they might fall into the hands of the Nazis or the Japanese which were far worse. That's why the Jewish people in what was then Palestine didn't revolt when WW2 was going on-it might have let the Nazis take the area and kill them all.
 
What would be the result of Germany going all out with chemical/biological weapons on Britain? And what colonies would make a break for it? Probably India first.

Europe becoming hell on Earth. Winston Churchill made sure the British were ready for chemical warfare. When the British became aware that the Germans might use chemical warfare against the Soviets in 1943, he said this about the use of mustard gas on German cities.
In the event of the Germans using gas on the Russians, my declaration of last year of course stands. We shall retaliate by drenching the German cities with gas on the largest possible scale. We must expect their counter-measures. Is everything in readiness for this contingency both ways? It is quite possible that another warning like I gave last year might check them off at the last minute, but we must be ready to strike and make good any threat we utter with the utmost promptitude and severity

In regards to the 'morality' of chemical warfare when he ordered the stockpiling of such weapons,

“It is absurd to consider morality on this topic, when everybody used it in the last war without a word of complaint from the moralists or the Church. On the other hand, in the last war the bombing of open cities was regarded as forbidden. Now everybody does it as a matter of course.”

So, the Germans would be opening Pandora's Box by dropping chemical weapons on Britain. Also, the British planned to deploy biological warfare against Germany by dropping linseed cakes laced with anthrax onto German fields. This would've killed millions of Germans, so again, the Germans were opening Pandora's Box.

As for which colony would be first, we could see a colonial uprising in India, but it depends if the biological/chemical attack by the Germans decapitates or incapacitates the British high command in London.
 
Problem is that there is no point during those wars where the response to such a move isn't going to be a very brutal suppression. The resources required to do so will be seen as minor compared to what they stand to lose.
 
Pre-WWI there was the Batetela Rebellion in the Congo that lasted from 1895 to 1908, and from 1897-1901 it involved members of the Belgian-trained Force Publique revolting after trying to invade Sudan. If you have the British and French firing shots at one another and Leopold unable to do put down the revolt, maybe a Force-Publique run superstate comprised of Congo and Sudan emerges... possibly including an eastern slice of Ubangi-Shari.

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Viva Militarist Mega Congo​
 
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