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Imperialism | Colonial Policy

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Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch, edited by the German Colonial Society, 1905
Retrospect on Deutsch-Südwestafrika's Development in 1904

(p. 12) For South West Africa in 1904 the uprising has been in the center of all interest. The compensation commission has calculated the losses the white population has suffered as more than 7 million. In addition, many of the best farmers, even women and children have been murdered by the Herero. Presently it can not be said when quiet and peace will return to Südwestafrika, as the Witboois too have risen in revolt. To help in the first months of distress, the German people, by the means of the German Colonial Society (appeal of January 25th), (p.13) by the Central Aid Committee for German Settlers in Südwestafrika and a number of other private organizations have brought speedy aid, because the refugees driven off their farms and land, tobbed of their entire property, lacked of everything. Until the begin of November 1904 the German Colonial Society collected c. 275,000 M. and sent 70,000 M. to the Central Aid Committee in Windhuk, the same amount was distributed among the branch aid committees in Karibib, Grottfontein, Omaruru, Swakopmund and Outjo. In addition the German Colonial Society sent a large shipment of clothing to Windhuk.

The compensation commission has estimated the permanent damage of the white population, which consisted of farmers and administrators, at over 7 million M. in Hereroland, in Namaland at 6 million M. In Germany everyone was dissatisfied when the majority of the German Reichstag decided on April 22nd 1904 to grant a loan of 2 million M., to be given out as aid to needy who had lost their property in consequence of the uprising. Because everyone was convinced, that, even if juridical arguments cannot be found, the cultural pioneers must be given full compensation for the losses suffered, on moral grounds. The government has announced a new draft.

At an assembly held in Windhuk, inhabitants of the protectorate formulated a serious petition directed at government. In order to strongly represent their claims with the responsible authorities, the Southwest African settlers sent a delegation, consisting of 5 men : Erdmann, Erhard, Kürsten, Schlettwein, Voigts, who, in a brochure, briefly and impressively, describe the origin of the uprising and the compensation claims of the settlers. The delegation has been introduced to his Majesty the Kaiser by the Reich chancellor; the Kaiser had himself informed and promised the Southwest Africans, who had suffered such hardship, to aid them with all his force. The government then demanded Reichstag to grant, within the supplementary budget, a sum of 5 million. At the suggestion of the budget commission, this sum was reduced to 3 million. The friend of the colonies can only hope, that this second installment was not the last, and 
that concerning the demands concerned the damage caused by the Witbooi uprising in Damaraland also will receive the aid which was declared necessary by the compensation commission.

Let us briefly sketch the events of the uprising in 1904. The first, rather optimistic report mentioned, the Herero had arisen. Only two days later the report came in, the Herero laid siege to Okahandja, the railway bridge near Osona had been destroyed and the telegraph line connecting it with Windhuk had been cut. A train dispatched from Swakopmund could not reach the capital. The small cruiser "Habicht", at anchor in Cape Town, was given the order to speedily come to the aid of the rather few troops in the north of the protectorate (unfortunately, the Franke company had evacuated Omaruru). On January 19th 2 officers and 52 men disembarked, equipped with a machine gun and two revolving cannons; they could proceed only until Karibib. The major threatemed places Windhuk, Okahandja and Omaruru have been relieved only in the last days of January respectively first days of February by the speedy approach of the Franke company, which came from the Bondelszwart area. These heroic German soldiers have accomplished merits not only for the German protectorate, but also for Kaiser and Reich.

On February 10th the first support transport arrived, the sea battalion. On land, Major von Glasenapp took command. On February 23es and March 1st, further reinforcement transports arrived at Swakopmund. East of Omaruru at the well near Otjihinamaparero the first larger skirmish took place. March 13th was the worst day in the entire campaign, as Major von Glasenapp and his staff, many officers and a company of 36 men on horse reached the Herero's rear-guard. In unfavourable terrain they were surrounded, 7 officers and 13 men fell, another 3 officers and 2 men were wounded. The same column made up for the defeat by a hard-fought, yet victorious skirmish at Okaharui.

A larger battle was fought on April 9th, in which Oberst Leutwein attacked the enemy's about 3000 rifles strong main force near Onganjira, and after 8 hours of fight, when darkness set in, he broke through the enemy's positions. Here, 2 officers and 2 men fell, and there was a large number of wounded. Four days later Leutwein had to stand a skirmish lasting 10 hours Okatumba, where, on the German side, 2 officers and 7 cavalrymen fell. Late in April the Glasenapp column had a number of typhus infections, which almost were more costly than the Herero bullets.

Early in May Generalleutnant von Trotha, hietherto division commander in Trier, formerly deputy governor of German East Africa Ostafrika, was given command over the troops in Südwestafrika; he arrived on June 11th in Swakopmund. In the meantime the Herero had established camp, unmolested, at the (p.14) Waterberg. Trotha's plan was to encircle them, as far as this was possible due to the wide extent of the terrain. In June and July he had to fight many skirmishes with the Herero, and on August 11th he attacked those who had encamped at Hamakiri near the Waterberg, from all sides. The enemy fled in panic, leaving behind a lot of cattle as well as property and many corpses, and left in easterly direction.

The skirmish at the Waterberg decisively defeated the Herero, but the continued fight against the enemy troops, now scattered in all directions, was not without difficulty. In part groups had crossed into British Bechuanaland, to where the German troops could not follow them, because of international law. Adding to the difficulties in the north were reports from the south about a bold robbere band lead by a certain Morenga, so that General von Trotha regarded it necessary to send smaller reinforcements. In September the troops had reached Epukiro, fighting smaller skirmishes with the Herero all the way. Everywhere it became evideny that the moral victory at the Waterberg had been a decisive one.

As a surprise came Leutwein's report, that the Witboois, in the loyalty of which the governor had trusted, had left Gibeon in hostile intention, and had attacked neighbouring stations. Further reports came in, Morenga's force would increase by a steady supply of new arrivals. Hendrik Witbooi spared neither the district administrator von Burgsdorff, who always had been sympathetic toward him, neither the missionaries nor the farmers. Even, as in the case of the Herero earlier, women were not spared. General von Trotha regarded it opportune to move with his staff from the northern to the southern war theatre, and arrived in Windhuk on October 24th. Most Hottentot tribes sided with the Witboois. Only the Bethanians and the Rehoboth Bastards remained loyal. The rebels, good riders and well-armed, assembled in a strength of 600 rifles near Rietmont and Kalkfontein. Two companies dispatched from the north to occupy Hoachanas and Kub. At both locations smaller skirmishes took place in October and November; only at the end of November, the Witboois were repelled from Kub. On December 4th Oberst Deimling occupied Rietmont after inflicting heavy losses on the enemy and capturing 15,000 head of cattle. In the first days of 1905 serious skirmishes have been fought at Stamprietfontein, in which 250 Hereros participated on the side of the Witboois.

In total 39 officers and 286 men fell in 1904; another 15 officers and 247 men fell victim to Typhus. After detracting the losses and departures, at the end of 1904 the Schutztruppe had a strength of 10,400 men, of whom 700 were ill or wounded. 2,370 men were scheduled to embark on their return voyage. With the arrival of the last transports, the remainder of the navy expedition corps should be withdrawn, about 350 men.

In the German states, the uprising has raised interest in German colonies; old and new questions were asked and debated. So the question regarding the development of water resources, after Alexander Kun's report on his expedition to the Fish River. Practitioners and theoreticians have engaged in the debate. All agreed with Dr. Paul Rohrbach, government settlement commissioner, that it was easily possible to make economic use of the rich rainfall in Deutsch-Südwestafrika. The Otavi copper mines are given considerable attention; attempts are undertaken to quickly construct a railway line connecting them with Swakopmund.

On November 13th it was announced that Governor Leutwein had been granted leave, and that in his place General von Trotha would take over government affairs. At the same time it was announced that Governor Leutwein would not return to the protectorate, and that the general consul at Cape Town, von Lindequist, was supposed to succeed him at a later date. The protectorate's white settlers welcomed the decision, as Herr von Lindequist is widely respected here. It is to be hoped and wished, that Herr von Lindequist will lead the administration of Deutsch-Südwestafrika as the protectorate's governor.



 


Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch (Atlas German Colonies with Yearbook), edited by the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society). Berlin 1905, p.12ff.

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