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Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Atlas German Colonies, with Yearbook, edited by the German Colonial Society, 1907, Deutsch-Südwestafrika
Retrospect on the development of the protectorate of Deutsch-Südwestafrika in 1906.

The war in the protectorate Südwestafrika this year had the character of guerilla warfare. Since the struggle at the Waterberg the Herero hardly have moved. And since the death of Hendrik Witboi and the surrender of Samuel Isaak the only activity of our coloured opponents was to damage us by robbery. They evaded any serious conflict. Finally, one by one, individual captains surrendered, the latest, shortly before christmas, Johannes Christian, leader of the Bondelszart men, who, over three years ago, had been the first to rise against our rule. Some of his men still are out in the field or on British territory. It can not be said yet, if operations as those we were ordered to conduct last year, will again be necessary. All in all, we may assume, that law and order after three years of fighting have been restored (p.15); in any case, the government will proclaim peace for the protectorate on April 1st 1907.
The extraordinary size of the stream of immigrants to Swakopmund and Lüderitzbucht may be interpreted as an indicator of that peace. The protectorate's white population has considerably increased through it. It did not only increase at larger settlements, such as Windhuk, Swakopmund and Lüderitzbucht; everywhere farmer, merchants and craftsmen have settled down. Also where they had been expelled by the rebellion have returned to their lands. It is to be hoped that Reichstag will not refuse them just compensation for the reconstruction of their destroyed places; because without the old farmers, the core of experienced, weathered elements, the reconstruction of a German Südwestafrika will meet obstacles and suffer delays.
In 1906 the traffic connections have considerably improved in Südwestafrika. In September the first train of the Otavi railroad arrived at the final station, Tsumeb (570 km distance from Swakopmund). So the region of the Otavi mines, of geological importance, is connected with the protectorate's nearest port. Earlier than expected, on October 10th the railway from Lüderitzbucht has reached Kubub. A couple of years ago it was believed impossible to surmount the wide girdle of dunes in the hinterland of Lüderitzbucht. German engineering has overcome these difficulties in a secure and permanent way. In addition, it has been observed that the dunes do not migrate as fastas it was to be assumed from hitherto published laymen's descriptions. Of course, the entire line remains only a torso and can fulfil her task, to open up the south of the protectorate, only if it is continued, at least until Keetmanshoop, which by the way also has developed considerably in the last year.
Construction of the southern railroad had been begun in Lüderitzbucht with a limited number of indigenous workers. The first stages were detonation works at the station of Lüderitzbucht and at a rock rift to the south of town. Early in March 1906, when a shipment of Herero P.O.W.s (as labourers) arrived, construction could be taken up at full strength. White workers, too, Italians and Englishmen, were hired and construction made good progress, except in one stretch, so that the railway, until Aus, could be opened for traffic on November 1st 1906.
Road construction in the protectorate is limited mainly to the maintenance of existing roads, which have suffered by having been used by the troops. A small number of new roads has been constructed.
Construction by the administration and by privates was, in the protectorate, extraordinarily vivid; on the other hand, a lack of room/houses is noticed everywhere. It has to be recognised that firms resident in the country have been contracted to deliver construction materials. In Swakopmund private construction has declined, which had been especially vivid last year. On the other hand construction was thriving in Lüderitzbucht. At the end of 1904, in this southern port only three merchant houses had edifices. Within one year, from April 1905 to March 1906, 34 new buildings arose, side buildings not counted, in addition a number of houses outside of town. While in the old days only corrugated iron was used, these days, by the addition of Verandas and towers, by colourful paints construction strives to answer aesthetic demands. Newly emerging small settlements are an entirely new phenomenon. A stretch of land along the Otavi railroad near Osona was partitioned; here several small settlements emerged, mainly dealing with agri- and horticulture. Also beyond the city limits of Windhuk and Okahandja, new small settlements have emerged. Some concentrate on the cultivation of wine (producing grapes of enormous size), others focus on the cultivation of tobacco. Both mainly focus on the southwest African market. Further products of importance : maize, potatoes, lucerns, vegetables of any kind. Of the farm Rietfontein it is reported that it had an extraordinary wheat harvest, "the thirtieth corn was harvested, something never achieved in the best wheat soil regions of Germany".
In animal husbandry attempts have been undertaken to import cattle not only from the Cape Colony, but also from Argentina, with poor results. The south American animals are too soft for the mountainous and stony pastures of Deutsch-Südwestafrika, and, because of the long transportation route, too expensive. Better results were achieved with Simmental race. Because of the strong demand, prices were high. Prices rose even more on the market for small animals. This investment is even more popular, because it pays off after a short time. A diligent farmer can earn his living by breeding chicken, as eggs always find a customer. A Grootfontein farmer has made practical experience with ostrich breeding; it has been shown that the protectorate's north (p.16) is suited for ostrich breeding. It should be mentioned that the wild ostrich herds have increased in the entire protectorate, namely in the north. German fish released in an artificial pond have developed well. Attempts to introduce German bees have failed.
In the mining sector it has to be reported that a farmer near Karibib has begun to cut marble on his ground, and to use it industrially. With great effort the opening of the Otavi mines has been begun, melting furnaces have been established, a water pipe laid; we expect news of the results soon. Then the import figures in our trade statistics, which have suffered in the past years characterized by the rebellion, will again rise considerably.
With regard to the protectorate's schools we only have late reports on 1905. According to these, the school in Windhuk was frequented by 65, the one in Swakopmund by 42, the one in Keetmanshoop by 80 students. In Windhuk complaints were raised regarding irregular attendance, the cause of which was identified as the lack of an obligation to visit the school. To this the measles epidemic added. In Keetmanshoop a number of students are of mixed blood. Hope is expressed that with the return of the Boers, after the termination of the rebellion, white students again will form the majority.
The indigenous question, without doubt, is one of the most important questions in the protectorate. We cannot make this colony profitable without educating the coloureds gradually to aid us. This has been done by placing the Herero P.O.W.s at the disposal of private entrepreneurs. This education will not be easy. Of the Bergdamara it is reported, that so far only a fraction has settled down on the stations and farms. But these men, from time to time, are overcome by a drive of freedom, and, leaving thinds in the stake, they run off without an apparent reason. Some return, the majority does not. The season when the field harvest, i.e. all kinds of roots and bulbs are plentiful, is luring them out in the open. In addition they consume meat of caught or shot beasts, roots, leaves, fruits.
Things are different if the Bergdamara has entered the service of the whites as a child and did not get accustomed to nomadic roaming. Even more unfavourable are things with the bushmen. The Hottentots and most of all the Herero, because of their bodily characteristics, are well-suited for labour on the farms and in agriculture. The Ovambo in the protectorate's north were calm throughout the entire year. It is to be hoped that the protectorate so severely troubled now will enjoy a lasting peace, so that it can recover from the wounds inflicted by a rebellion which lasted for three years.


Source: Deutscher Kolonial-Atlas mit Jahrbuch (Atlas German Colonies with Yearbook), edited by the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft (German Colonial Society). Berlin 1907, p.14ff.

GM (digitalisation) and AG (translation) 
posted on the web for psm-data; many thanks to

Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin / Preußischer Kulturbesitz 

Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz


Dokument in deutscher Sprache