Would colonialism have ended if WW2 did not happen?

In some parts it would have ended, but perhaps more importantly, it would not be so thoroughly discredited. Adolf Hitler showed the world the extremes to which imperialism, ethnic hatred and race superiority could lead to. All those ideas underpinned colonialism. The Brits and French saw their culture as superior to their colonies, themselves as supreme for their fact of running these colonies and that certainly did harbour a racist mentality among the Brits and French to Indians, Egyptians, Indo-Chinese, Algerians and others. In the case of Imperial Japan, you had a country who seeing first hand what colonialism did to its neighbors, decided to imitate the west in all its worst aspects in their campaigns in China, Philippines and all the way to Burma.

Now yes, the Brits and the French never treated their colonies and its peoples the way the Nazis did, that is true. But as in the case of antisemitism which was enabled by many polite societies over the centuries, they certainly did set a harmful precedent and Hitler certainly had a huge fixation for colonialism and loved the British Empire, only chiding them for not going far enough and looking forward to pay India such a visit, that "they'll long for the good old days of the British", and you know this guy is serious when he says stuff like that. In some respects, WWII has possibly distorted the malign legacy of colonialism. I mean Hitler and Imperial Japan are so obviously evil in their ideologies and practices that next to them USSR, USA, French Empire, British Empire look good, and because of everyone's focus on Fascism as this ideology, they haven't quite looked at how much colonialism shaped and affected the Nazi ideology.

The Nazis plan in Eastern Europe, the Lebensraum, Drang nach Osten, was inspired by America's Westward Expansion, the Trail of Tears of Andrew Jackson and the Nuremberg Laws were modeled on many racist laws in USA and in South Africa. They saw Ostfront as a Wild West with themselves as the cowboys (hence their Karl May fetish) and the Slavs, Jews, Russians as the Native Americans...(Gestapo tended to refer to partisan groups as navajos). So while the world sees Nazism as an absolute evil, colonialism never quite got its day in court...and that has allowed USA to become a neocolonial power, tutored by the British Empire, inheriting its frankly horrendous diplomatic legacy. There was a chance for redemption under FDR, when he tried to encourage decolonization, but the Presidents who came after with the ambiguous exception of Eisenhower at Suez, did not follow up on it. So today we have neocolonial adventures in the Middle East.


Any system in which the basic human rights of citizens such as freedom of speech, thought, expression, religion, right to education etc are banned, controlled are neglected cannot survive the test of time!

The root theme of colonialism was enrichment of the ruling country by soaking all that is good in the host country.This was done by having trading rules in favor of colonial powers, forced labor, looting of treasures and many other oppressive ways.

To attain this objective it was very important that the citizens of the host country should not have any feelings of nationalism and oneness.

Rather they should be loyal to their caste, creed, religion, state, village,family etc. In nearly all cases example India these feelings were quite prevalent.

When the leeching of the host countries( or rather a vast area of land have various non homogenous and divided states) started the repercussions of it were felt by all members of host society, from royalty to villagers. However there was no mechanism present with help of which the citizens could understand what was happening to their country and unite to fight this foreign power.

Moreover the colonial powers used various intelligent ways of controlling their colonies like divide and rule, putting one section of society against another, martial subjugation of various regions, causing famines, denying education to the colonial people etc.

But at the same time it became necessary that the colony should be developed , industrialized, administration improved so that the leeching could be done more efficiently.

To do this involvement of the local population was a necessity. And this is where the fall of colonialism began.

  • The citizens of colony became more educated so that they could help in the administration
  • middle class began to rise due to setting up of industries
  • intellectuals of the states began to travel outside the colony

All these steps help lay down the seeds of nationalism. They become more and more connectedby various means of communication. People began to realize the harm the colonial power was causing to them as a whole. And now the started to resist together in an organized manner.

What the World War 2 helped do was weaken all the colonial powers. The administrative structure, efficiency, and functioning of colonial powers reduced considerably.

This along with aggressive and sustained agitation from colonies hastened the Fall of colonialism.

Even if World War 2 hadn't happened the seeds of rebellion had been down. Slowly but surely colonialism would have met its end!


In my opinion, "colonialism" in the form that it had existed prior to 1900 was doomed.

Very few, if any, colonies actually returned a profit to the colonial power (this is not the same as saying that none of the colonies made any of the private capital investors in them rich) and there was a growing centripetal force pushing the colonies into more an more independent conditions as they slowly produced their own leadership capable people.

Potentially the British Commonwealth could have become an "international nation" with the members enjoying complete internal autonomy, limited international autonomy, and a collective international power/voice.

  • This would not have pleased the US government.

Potentially the French Empire could have added more an more "overseas provinces" thus extending France around the globe at the expense of having a French government that included representatives from outside metropolitan France.

  • This would not have pleased the US government.

Potentially the USSR could have expanded (slightly) and become more an more of a "national union" with effective government representation from the component parts.

  • This would not have pleased the US government.

Potentially Japan could have settled the wars in China by establishing "puppet regimes" that appeared independent but which actually took their directions from Tokyo (Korea would have been declared a Japanese "province" and incorporated into metropolitan Japan (the Koreans would have been disposed of).

  • This would not have pleased the US government.

Theoretically, there having been no "Holocaust" the nation of Israel wouldn't exist.


In my opinion, most of colonies were already exploited for more than 200 years

India lost vast amounts of forest lands and natural resources

Indochina - Extreme Economic exploitation. Exporting 80% of the raw material it produces or grows. Due to tough high school examinations, many Vietnamese citizens were unemployed. Places still exist where they sell drugs openly.

African nations - Slavery, Mineral resources exploited, Encouraged hatred among ethnic communities, causing genocide and ethnic cleansing

most of the colonized nations were worthless in value. Nationalism and patriotic feeling was emerging from the 1930s. excessive Nationalism was the main cause of WW2

now coming to the question. would colonialism have ended ? -Yes. Tensions would increase more between countries resulting in an obvious result of a world war. And eventually a UN would have been formed. to end it and for the betterment of humanity, propose and Aid countries to decolonize the colonies

P.S- 1939, most parts of the world was discovered and colonized. Most of the colonized countries were now poor and were demanding for freedom.,


First of all, let's start analyzing the meaning of the word colonialism, which is: "the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically". With this in mind, do you really think that colonialism cease to existe in 1945?, how come?

Most people believes that there are no more empires, is it not?, wrong!. Names change regularly, but politics obviously don´t. Look around, how many countries that you know don´t depend on others?, I would say that those can be counted on the fingers of one hand and there will be fingers back.

So as you can see, the presumptions you make are based on wrong facts. Things are really changing rather slowly, and mostly only in appearances. Perhaps the following information may shock you, but even if a vast majority don´t know it, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand - among others - still are British colonies - to this very day. Check out the facts.


Possibly with a different timing. Old empires collapse, new ones form. 1918 saw the end of the German, AustroHungarian and Ottoman Empires - the Russian Empire went the previous year. The Danes sold their West Indian colony to the United States during the Great War, and lost their Indian colony post WW II. The Japanese Empire rose and fell again with the two world wars. The American Empire has probably reached its peak now, but seems to still have an appetite for more of the middle East. Of course, they deny the name, or form, of "empire" and "colonies," so maybe we should just call their possession "Satrapies" - most of Europe, most of the New World, large chunks of Africa and Asia, most of Oceania. Of course, some of these dependencies are trying for independence, but not very cleverly: leaving the whole structure somewhat unstable. The United Nations are just a smoke screen to cover the naughty bits with a fig leaf.

These "what if ?" questions are really rather depressing. Had "things" gone otherwise than they did, then that would have been because the people then would have been otherwise than they were: and we who have had to live out our lives thereafter would not only have been these "different" people at the time, but we would have lived through a different status post quo, and we cannot even begin to guess how the people who we were not would have reacted to the challenges that were never presented to anyone. If you had been me, would "you" have married the woman I did ? What would that statement mean ?

Will colonialism/empire ever end ? Ask a Tibetan.


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