در ۱۸۸۸ میلادی کشتیهای آلمانی در جزیرهٔ کلاین کوراسائو در نزدیکی جزیرهٔ اصلی کوراسائو پهلوزدند و مهندسان جهت برپایی تجهیزات و یک کارگاه کشتیسازی به خاک آن فرودآمدند. این جزایر پیشتر زیر نظر هلند بود، ولی به دلیل ساختار مرجانی این جزیرهٔ کوچک بدان بیمیل بودند. ساخت و ساز در این جزیره برای آلمانها به دلیل جنس سخت بستر آن به کندی پیشرفت. به زودی مجموعهای از عوامل از جمله توفندهای استوایی -که خرابی گستردهای در سازههای آلمانها بهبارآورد- دست به دست هم داد و آنان را از ادامهٔ کار در کارائیب منصرف ساخت.
German interest in the Caribbean involved a series of unsuccessful proposals made by the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) during the late-nineteenth century to establish a coaling station somewhere in the Caribbean. The German Empire (founded in 1871) was rapidly building a world-class navy, but coal-burning warships needed frequent refueling and could only operate within range of a coaling station. Preliminary plans were vetoed by Otto von Bismarck (Chancellor from 1871 to 1890).
By 1900 American "naval planners were obsessed with German designs in the hemisphere and countered with energetic efforts to secure naval sites in the Caribbean." German naval planners in the 1890-1910 era denounced the Monroe Doctrine as a self-aggrandizing legal pretension to dominate the hemisphere. They were even more concerned with the possible American canal in Panama, because it would lead to full American hegemony in the Caribbean. The stakes were laid out in the German war-aims proposed by the Imperial Navy in 1903: a "firm position in the West Indies", a "free hand in South America", and an official "revocation of the Monroe Doctrine" would provide a solid foundation for "our trade to the West Indies, Central and South America."
In the mid-1860s Prussian military and naval leaders considered building a coaling station in the Caribbean, and proposed to purchase the island of Curaçao from the Netherlands. However Chancellor Bismarck was strongly opposed; he wanted to avoid difficulties with the U.S. and nothing happened. Bismarck was removed from power by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1890 and German naval strategists again turned their attention to the Caribbean, but they failed to establish a naval base at Margarita Island (Venezuela).
In the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903 the United Kingdom and Germany sent warships to blockade Venezuela after it defaulted on its foreign loan repayments. Germany intended to land troops and occupy Venezuelan ports, but U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt forced the Germans to back down by sending his own fleet and threatening war if the Germans landed. By 1904 German naval strategists had turned their attention to Mexico where they hoped to establish a naval base in a Mexican port on the Caribbean. They dropped that plan. In 1917 they proposed a military alliance in a war against the United States in the Zimmermann Telegram, which accelerated American entry into World War I. After the end of the war, Germany was forced to agree to the Treaty of Versailles in which the country lost all its colonies, which for the most part brought an end to German military interests outside Europe.