Being one of Germany’s first colonial possessions, GEA had a special relationship with Germany. In 1941, Kaiser Wilhelm II died, and in his honor, his son, Wilhelm III, gave the original colonies the special status of a German Dominion.
The colony began when Carl Peters, an adventurer who founded the Society for German Colonization, signed treaties with several native chieftains on the mainland opposite Zanzibar. On 3 March 1885, the German government announced that it had granted an imperial charter, which was signed by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck on 27 February 1885. The charter was granted to Peters' company and was intended to establish a protectorate in the African Great Lakes region.
In 1890, London and Berlin concluded the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty, which returned Heligoland to Germany and decided the border between GEA and the East Africa Protectorate controlled by Britain, although the exact boundaries remained unsurveyed until 1910.
The Maji Maji Rebellion occurred in 1905 and was put down by Governor Gustav Adolf von Götzen. Scandal soon followed, however, with allegations of corruption and brutality. In 1907, Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow appointed Bernhard Dernburg to reform the colonial administration.
During World War I the bulk of German Troops were controlled by Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who applauded for being one of Germany’s National Heroes for his work in East Africa.
The Germans believed the Tutsi ruling class was racially superior to the other native peoples of Rwanda because of their alleged "Hamitic" origins on the Horn of Africa, which they believed made them more "European" than the Hutu. The colonists, including powerful Roman Catholic officials, favored the Tutsis because of their taller stature, more "honorable and eloquent" personalities, and willingness to convert to Roman Catholicism. Years of German-backed oppression of the Hutus led to more enmity between the Tutsi and Hutus. After independence in 1968, Rwanda’s history was effectively the same as OTL. One key difference is that the civil war and ensuring Rwandan genocide are much more brutal and costly than OTL.