4. THE COLONIAL PERIOD: GERMAN RULE
4.3 THE RESISTANCE STRUGGLE CULMINATES IN GENOCIDE: 1904-1906
|1904||During Leutweins term of
office six "whites" are murdered by "blacks" with 15 death penalties
for the latter, and five "blacks" are murdered by "whites" with prison
terms of between three months and five-and-a-half years for the latter.
The first petrol-powered trucks make their appearance in the territory.
Conrad Rust (Farm Monte Christo) establishes the newspaper Windhuker Nachrichten. The newspaper is the successor of the Nachrichten des Bezirksvereins Windhuk (June 1903).
The main post office in Windhoek is completed.
Richard Rathke explores the full length of the Caprivi Strip.
King Ueyulu ya Hedimbi of the Uukwanyama area dies. His successor is the fourteenth King Nande (1904-1911).
In Angola the Portuguese attack further positions of the Angolese people south of the Kunene River. Several battles are fought with warriors from the Ombandja area at Omwandiwoshivandje, Ouhekeweenghenghe, Omakhungu and Evelo la Pembe. During 1904 the Ombandja King Shihetekela Hiudulu enters a coalition with various Ovambo communities (Uukwambi, Ombalantu, Uukwaluudhi and Ongandjera) against the Portuguese. Various battles are fought between the Ombandja-Ovambo coalition and the Portuguese (Onhundayevala (1904), Eloveya la Nanghanga, Omufilu, Omukoyimo, Omufitu uaNdeiteja, Oda yanangeda and Onangovo (1907). After the Portuguese defeat the Ombandja-Ovambo coalition, King Shihetekela retreats into the Uukwanyama area, to Onangodji near Ombuba yomanyoshe, in order to re-organise his resistance against the Portuguese colonial power. Because his relationship with the Uukwanyama King Ueyulu ya Hedimbi and his successor, King Nande, is not too good, he has to wait until King Mandume ya Ndemufayo assists him to step up Ombandja resistance.
The Roman Catholic Church buys the area of Döbra near Windhoek.
Rhenish missionary Wilhelm Eich becomes head of the Herero Mission (until 1910 and again between 1919 and 1925).
Merchant Richard Rothe of Outjo visits the Caprivi Strip to investigate mining and trading possibilities there. He visits Mamili of the Fwe area at Sangwali and Linyanti (New Linyanti) on the Chobe River.
The manganese deposits of Otjosondu are discovered but no manganese production takes place before the outbreak of World War One.
There are 54 weather stations in the territory.
|11.01.||Samuel Maharero orders all
Ovaherero chiefs to take up arms against the Germans. He orders them to "refrain
from touching missionaries, English, Basters, Berg-Damaras, Namas and Boers".
There are doubts concerning the date of this order. It is possible that Maharero wrote
this letter after the outbreak of the war (around 20.01.), after the first shots were
fired in Okahandja, where it is not clear at all, who actually fired these first shots
(Missionary Diehl reports that only the Germans fired on his house, not the Ovaherero).
Samuel Maharero tries to involve the Basters, under Hermanus van Wyk and Hendrik Witbooi, in the struggle. The two letters Samuel sends to Witbooi never reach him, and Van Wyk is not willing to support Samuel. Van Wyk hands over the letters for Witbooi to the Germans. In the second of these letters Samuel writes: "All our obedience and patience with the Germans is of little avail, for each day they shoot someone dead for no reason at all. Hence I appeal to you, my Brother, not to hold aloof from the uprising, but to make your voice heard so that all Africa may take up arms against the Germans. Let us die fighting rather than die as a result of maltreatment, imprisonment or some other form of calamity." These three letters were also written after the outbreak of the war. They can therefore, together with Samuel Maharero's order, not be used as proof of a premeditated insurrection on the part of the Ovaherero.
On the other hand, from the very beginning of the German presence in SWA, substantial numbers of Ovaherero are employed by the German army, either as labourers, waggon drivers, herdsmen, batmen or even soldiers. After the outbreak of the war a number of Ovaherero continue to serve in the German forces. Some are even killed on the German side.
Gustav Duft tries to negotiate with Samuel Maharero at Okahandja, to no avail because Maharero and Assa Riarua are at Osona. Chief Ouandja agrees to speak to Duft to win time.
|12.01.||After the first shots were fired
at Okahandja (allegedly by the Germans), the Ovaherero revolt throughout SWA. In the first
couple of days 123 Germans are killed (among them 13 active soldiers, seven Boers and five
women), goods and cattle are stolen, and infrastructures, buildings and properties are
destroyed, mainly between Okahandja and Omaruru.
This uprising takes place due to loss of control and ownership of traditional land (German native reserve" policy), usury by traders, increasing debts, cases of rape, the sale of alcohol, the increasing ill-treatment of Ovaherero and threats to Samuel Mahareros life (by Okahandja District Chief Zürn. Missionary Carl Wandres reports Gustav Duft saying: "If Zürn had not been in Okahandja, then the issue would not have developed in the manner that it did"). Zürn is later threatened with a German court martial because he is held responsible for the outbreak of the war. A further war cause is the absence of Maharero, Assa Riarua and Leutwein from Okahandja.
The many rumours amongst German settlers and soldiers of a possible Ovaherero uprising add to the outbreak of the war, although there are no signs about any envisaged Ovaherero insurrection in early January. On 06.01. Kurt Streitwolf reports on a meeting with Traugott Tjetjo in the Gobabis district. Streitwolf does not believe that war is imminent. At the Waterberg, Sergeant G Rademacher and missionary Wilhelm Eich react to reports by Else Sonnenberg, whose husband, trader Gustav Sonnenberg, has held discussions with Chief David Kambazembi on the growing indebtedness of the Ovaherero. Rademacher and Eich report that war is unlikely, but that Kambazembi is preparing for a visit of Chief Ouandja at Otjikururume.
The Gobabis-Dama support the Ovaherero.
The Germans are supported by Hendrik Witbooi, but in October 1904 Witbooi is prompted to revolt against German rule by the countless murders and ruthlessness of the Germans, in the light of which especially after the Waterberg battle in August 1904 Witboois soldiers realise that the Germans are bent on wiping out all Africans regardless of their tribe or sex.
Leutwein later reports that the war came as a complete surprise to all "white" settlers, including the missionaries, due to the admirable discipline of the Ovaherero in keeping their uprising secret. The reinforcement of soldiers from Germany is slow. Ultimately 14 000 German soldiers are involved, 1 500 of whom die. This war effort costs Germany 585 million Mark. The Ovaherero resistance effort is characterised by disorganisation and a lack of co-ordination. The uprising is triggered off at different times: Okahandja: 12.01.; Omaruru: 17.01. and Otjimbingwe: 23.01.
New research reveals that the Ovaherero have not anticipated the outbreak of the war, and are quite unprepared for it. Far from seeking their initial overwhelming military advantage, the Ovaherero later seek to withdraw from central SWA and await the return of cooler minds (Theodor Leutwein) and the beginning of negotiations. Unfortunately, negotiations are not allowed by the Germans.
Duft, with German official Maass, tries again to negotiate with the Ovaherero but is warned to remain within the Okahandja fort. Only then does violence erupt.
German Soldiers on the Kaiser Wilhelm Mountain: Okahandja:
January 1904: Otjozondjupa Region
German War Graves on the Rhenish Missionary Cemetery in
Okahandja: Otjozondjupa Region: August 2003
German War Graves on the Cemetery in Gross Barmen: Between
12.01.1904 and March 1904: Otjozondjupa Region: October 2004
German War Graves on the Farm Klein Barmen: 12.01.1904:
Otjozondjupa Region: Photo taken in October 2004
||German troops under the command of Lieutenants Boysen and Voigts of Windhoek try to rescue Okahandja via the railway line, but are driven back. Boysen and six other German soldiers are killed. An armoured train under the command of Lieutenant Theodor Kurt Hartwig von Zülow leaves Swakopmund to rescue Okahandja. The train reaches the Waldau railway station on 13.01.|
The post offices at
Waldau and the Waterberg are destroyed. Violence also erupts at Omarasa, north of the
Waterberg. The Waterberg military station is conquered by the Ovaherero. All soldiers
under the command of Sergeant G Rademacher are killed.
The Rebuilt German Police Station which was destroyed by
Ovaherero Resistance Fighters during January 1904: Waterberg: Otjozondjupa Region
The German War Cemetery which reflects the Occurrences of the
Ovaherero/German Resistance War between January and November 1904: Waterberg: Otjozondjupa
German War Graves picturing the Beginning of the Great
Resistance War 1904 during January 1904 at the Waterberg: Otjozondjupa Region
German Memorial Plate for the fallen Ovaherero Soldiers at the
Waterberg Cemetry: Otjozondjupa Region
|15.01.||Kurt Streitwolf is involved in a
battle with Ovaherero at Oparakane.
Von Zülow reaches Okahandja with the armoured train following repairs to the partly destroyed railway line between Waldau and Okahandja.
Franke, setting out from Gibeon, breaks through to Windhoek after only four-and-a-half days (380 km distance) aiming to relieve Okahandja (27.01.) and Omaruru.
|16.01.||Gobabis is besieged.
A German company from Outjo is ambushed at Okanjande near present-day Otjiwarongo.
|17.01.||The Ovaherero of Omaruru under Chief Michael Tyiseseta start fighting.|
|18.01.||The German battleship
"Habicht" lands at Swakopmund, bringing fresh German troops who proceed into the
interior under the command of Second Lieutenant Hans Gygas.
The Ovaherero under the command of Headman Batona are defeated in the battle of Uitkomst near Grootfontein.
Ovaherero succeed in taking the military station of Otjituuo.
||The military station of Otavi is
relieved by Germans coming from Grootfontein.
Von Zülow tries to break through from Okahandja to Windhoek but cannot proceed further than Osona where he is engaged in a skirmish with the Ovaherero.
|20.01.||A repair team begins to repair the
destroyed state railway line between Waldau and Karibib.
With the outbreak of the war all Ovaherero living in Swakopmund, and those prisoners-of- war captured in the first days of the war, are placed on the ship "Eduard Bohlen" which is anchored off the coast of Swakopmund. Not knowing what to do with the prisoners, the authorities decide to offer the male prisoners to the South African mines at the Witwatersrand which gladly accept them as cheap forced labour.
|21.01.||Germans under the command of Lieutenant Alfred Maul proceed to Hoffnung, east of Windhoek.|
|22.01.||Germans under Lieutenant von
Niewitecki relieve the military stations of Seeis, Hohewarte and Hatsamas.
Franke defeats the Ovaherero in the battle of Teufelsbach north of Windhoek.
|23.01.||The Ovaherero of Otjimbingwe under
Chief Zacharias Zeraua start fighting.
Samuel Maharero tries in vain to draw the Ovambo into the revolt. According to Finnish missionary Albin Savola, an Ovaherero messenger requests King Kambonde kaMpingana to help the Ovaherero against the Germans. But the Finnish missionaries counsel the Ovambo to remain neutral, and in only one instance King Nehales attack on Namutoni do they side with the Ovaherero.
||In the Peace of Kalkfontein Leutwein makes peace with the Bondelswarts in order to avoid a war on two fronts. Von Fiedler has to supervise the conditions of the peace accord. Von Heydebreck does the same in the Great Karas Mountains. The Bondelswarts have to hand over all their arms. From the Great Karas Mountains Von Heydebreck moves north in order to join the war against the Ovaherero. On the way back he disarms the Kai||khaun under Manasse !Noreseb from Hoachanas who showed interest in joining the Ovaherero in their resistance war. The German colonial forces establish a strong military station at Hoachanas. After the outbreak of the Nama-German War in October 1904, the Kai||khaun join Hendrik Witbooi. After the defeat, the traditional ethnic structures are disbanded and all communal land confiscated as punishment for the "rebellion". Hoachanas ceases to exist as an important Nama community centre.|
||Five hundred Ovambo under King
Nehale of the Ondonga area attack Fort Namutoni. The seven German defenders under the
command of Sergeant Großmann flee via Nagusib to Tsumeb during the night. At Nagusib they
are rescued by a patrol which was sent by Lieutenant Volkmann from Grootfontein. The Fort
Namutoni is destroyed by Nehale's forces.
Fort Namutoni in the Etosha Pan: Oshikoto Region
Memorial Tablet: Battle of Namutoni in the Etosha Pan:
Franke advances in the direction of Otjosazu but a battle
ensues at the slopes of the Kaiser Wilhelm Mountain and the Ovaherero are driven out of
their mountain stronghold.
|04.02.||Omaruru is only relieved after a
fierce battle between Franke and the Ovaherero.
The "Franke Tower" in Omaruru, remembering the Battle
of Omaruru between Germans and Ovaherero, 17.01. - 04.02.1904, Erongo Region
|07.02.||Von Winklers section leaves Windhoek for the east, following a southern route via Kaukurus and Gobabis.|
|09.02.||A German sea battalion under the command of Major Georg von Glasenapp arrives in Swakopmund.|
|11.02.||Leutwein arrives in Swakopmund from
Port Nolloth with the steamer "Ernst Woermann". He comments that "If I
were now to go to Okahandja I would allow Samuel to come to me, and you would see, the
revolt would be ended".
However, he divides the German troops into four sections: a western section under Von Estorff tasked to advance via Omaruru, a main section under Leutwein tasked to attack Samuel Maharero who is probably at Otjosonjati (Königs-Albertshöhe) in the upper Swakop valley, Major von Glasenapps eastern section tasked to attack Tjetjo and Lieutenant Gygas section tasked to attack the Otjimbingwe Ovaherero.
||Seeking to negotiate, Leutwein sends a letter to Samuel Maharero to ascertain his whereabouts. The German Government reprimands Leutwein for this attempt to negotiate. When the letter reaches the Ovaherero they are assembled in the area of Otjosazu, Ongandjira and Otjosonjati. Missionary August Kuhlmann manages to meet Samuel at Otjosonjati where Samuel gives the impression that he would like to end the war.|
|14.02.||In the east, Von Glasenapps section (leaving Windhoek on 17.02.) and Von Fischels section (leaving Windhoek on 14.02.) follow a different route to Von Winklers section. Von Glasenapp and Von Fischel move from Kapps Farm via Okaseva in the direction of Kehoro and later to Kanduwe.|
|15.02.||Germans under Von Fischel are defeated in the battle of Seeis.|
|16.02.||Hans Gygas defeats the Otjimbingwe Ovaherero under Zeraua in the battle of Lievenberg.|
|19.02.||The battle of Groß Barmen is won by the Germans, but areas south-west of Okahandja are only cleared after a further battle at Klein Barmen.|
|20.02.||Franke leaves Omaruru in the direction of Outjo to attack the Ovaherero.|
|23.02.||Leutwein warns against a policy of exterminating of the Ovaherero.|
|24.02.||Von Glasenapp meets Von Winkler at Groß Owikango. The Ovaherero leave Kehoro.|
|25.02.||Franke defeats the Omaruru Ovaherero in the battle of Otjihinamaparero.|
|06.03.||Samuel Maharero replies to Leutweins letter in great detail (letter from Otjosonjati). From Kuhlmanns information German headquarters detect Samuels whereabouts in the upper Swakop River, west of the Onjati Mountains. About the outbreak of the war Samuel writes the following: "And finally at dawn [11.01.] he [Zürn] added soldiers to the fort [Okahandja] ... and called me, but if I had come they would have shot me. Because I realised this I fled. Then Leutnant Zürn sent people of the gun on my path to follow me and shoot me. This incensed me and consequently I killed the whites [Adolf and Henriette Dickmann, née Nierhoff, as well as settler August Kuntze] which had damaged us, because my death was ordered. This I heard from a white man present here named M von Michaelis. This is how the war began. It was initiated by the traders and von Zürn. I indicate how the war started, it is not mine. Question the traders and Leutnant Zürn as to their war, when they have told you then we can talk about it. The present war is that of Zürn [Otjiherero: Nambano ovita ovia Zürn].|
||Leutwein reports that Samuel is positioned in the line of Otjosazu, Okatumba at the Swakop River and Katjapia (with ±1 000 rifles); that Chief Michael Tyiseseta is moving from the Etjo Mountains in an eastward direction (with ±500 rifles); that the Tjetjo community has retreated from Kehoro at the Black Nossob River in the direction of the Onjati Mountains (with ±1 000 rifles); and that more Ovaherero under the command of Zeraua (with ±1 000 rifles) can be found in the area of Otjimbingwe at the Sney River, and at Lievenberg and Oruware at the Swakop River.|
||Von Glasenapps unit marches along the Epukiro omuramba (fossil river) via Kanduwe, and Von Winkler along the Black Nossob River to Onjatu where the Germans pursue the Ovaherero under the command of Tjetjo.|
|13.03.||The battle of Owikokorero is fought between Von Glasenapp and the Ovaherero under Tjetjo, with heavy losses for the Germans (in total nearly 70%: seven officers are killed, three wounded and 19 soldiers killed, three wounded). Among others, Hugo von Francois and Otto Eggers are killed.|
|16.03.||In a skirmish at Erindi Okaserandu, the Germans under the command of Lieutenant Leutwein are surprised by Ovaherero.|
||In the German Reichstag (Parliament), August Bebel representing the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) condemns the "suppression war" against the Ovaherero. He further demands the termination of the war and refuses to budget for its continuation. He calls the resistance of the Ovaherero a "justified liberation war".|
|28./29.03.||Zeraua leaves the area of Oruware and moves via Teufelsbach to the east.|
|30.03.||Zeraua joins the Otjimbingwe and Omaruru Ovaherero at Samuels station at Ongandjira in the upper Swakop valley.|
|01.04.||Von Glasenapps unit proceeds in the direction of Otjikuoko without meeting the Tjetjo community.|
|03.04.||Tjetjo meets the Germans in a battle at a site between Okaharui and Otjikuara, with heavy losses on both sides.|
||The battle of Ongandjira is fought with heavy losses on both sides. The Ovaherero have to give way before a sustained German artillery bombardment commences, and they escape in a northerly direction.|
|09./10.04.||Samuel Maharero has to retreat to the waterholes of Okatumba and Oviumbo.|
|13.04.||The battle of Oviumbo is fought
and the Germans are nearly defeated. Leutwein decides to withdraw to Otjosazu and await
troop reinforcements from Germany. In Germany he is subsequently heavily criticised for
his decision. The overwhelming majority in Germany still do not recognise that the
Ovaherero nation is fighting for its survival and against colonialism.
Von Glasenapps unit remains defensive for the time being and is allowed to march to Otjihangwe and later to Otjihaenena (arriving on 24.04.).
||The main body of Ovaherero start to
move north in the direction of the Waterberg. They first move to the vlei (pan) at
Engarawau. Here they remain until the Germans approach again.
Leutwein urges the German press to stop reporting that after the termination of the war all tribal structures of the Nama communities too would be destroyed, the chiefdoms abolished and all communities disarmed. This propaganda creates considerable unrest among all SWA indigenes, and is one of the causes of the Nama resistance war fought from August 1904 onwards. He writes the following: "I do not concur with those fanatics who want to see the Herero destroyed altogether. Apart from the fact that a people of 60 000 or 70 000 is not easy to annihilate, I would consider such a move a grave mistake from an economic point of view. We need the Herero as cattle breeders, though on a small scale, and especially as labourers. It will be quite sufficient if they are politically dead."
|28.04.||The battle of Okangundi is fought, ending in defeat for the Ovaherero.|
|April||A preliminary compensation commission consisting of Attorney Franz Erdmann, Otto Erhard, Moritz Kirsten, Carl Schlettwein and Albert Voigts travels to Berlin in order to obtain compensation for war damages suffered by German farmers. The Reichstag approves firstly (June 1904) 2 million Mark and later another 5 million Mark.|
|May||A German contractor, Arthur Koppel
arrives in Swakopmund to expedite the construction of the Otavi railway line being
undertaken by OMEG. The company makes use of contractors (inter alia Batista Oldani who
later settles at Warmquelle (originally developed by Carl Schlettwein) near Zesfontein)
and labourers either imported from Italy or Ovaherero prisoners-of-war (men, women and
children forced labour). Traugott Tjienda, an Ovaherero headman from Tsumeb reports: "I
was being made to work on the Otavi line ... We were not paid for our work ... I was a
kind of foreman over the labourers. I had 528 people, all Hereros, in my work party. Of
these 148 died while working on line. The Herero women were compounded with the men. They
were made to do manual labour as well. ... They were compelled to cohabit with soldiers
and with railway labourers. The fact that a woman was married was no protection. Young
girls were raped and very badly used. They were taken out of the compounds into the bush
and there assaulted. I dont think any of them escaped this, except the older
The Otavi railway line has a higher structural standard than the state railway line between Swakopmund and Windhoek (15 against 22 longitudinal slope; 150 m against 60 m minimum radius; 15 kg/m against 9 kg/m rail mass; 120 PS against 40 PS locomotive power; 90 t against 45 t net mass per train).
|30.05.||Leutwein, shortly before the arrival of General Lothar von Trotha, makes one last attempt for a negotiated settlement. He issues the following proclamation, printed in Otjiherero, to the Ovaherero: "You well know that after you have risen against your protector, the German Kaiser, nothing else awaits you but a fight to the death. Until then I cannot stop the war. However, you can stop the war, by coming over to me, handing in your guns and ammunition and receiving your expected punishment. ... ". Subsequently von Trotha turns down Leutweins negotiation efforts and henceforth a negotiated peace is out of the question. When Salatiel Kambazembi seeks a negotiated surrender, based on Leutweins proclamation of 30.05., Von Trotha notes "That will hardly help him; fought together, caught together, hanged together."|
|11.06.||General Lothar von Trotha arrives in the territory to take over the military command from Leutwein. Leutwein remains Governor of German South West Africa.|
and his people arrive at Okahitua at the Omatako omuramba. The Witbooi Nama are
positioned south of the omuramba, the main German body is north of Owikokorero, and
the unit under the command of Von Estorff is at Okamatangara.
German War Graves at the German Waterberg War Cemetery showing
the various Battles and Skirmishes between May and July 1904: Otjozondjupa Region
Grave of a German Officer on the German Cemetery in
Grootfontein, Otjozondjupa Region
|July||Construction of a telephone line
along the OMEG railway line commences from Swakopmund.
Samuel Maharero occupies the area of Otjozondjupa and the Hamakari River, while Michael Tyiseseta concentrates his forces at Omuveroume between the Little and Great Waterberg.
|05.07.||A post office is re-opened at Owikokorero (it was a military post office as from 13.06. until 04.07. and again from October until end of March 1905).|
|14.07.||The compensation commission under the chairmanship of Judge Richter (followed by Paul Rohrbach)(members: trader Otto Nitzsche, Walther Mittelstädt (Elisenheim) and Hermann Rust (Ondekaremba)) is officially established. Subsequent differences between Governor von Lindequist and Rohrbach lead to Rohrbachs departure from the colony in December 1906.|
|04.08.||The Otavi Mines Company (OMEG) agrees to rapidly construct the Otavi railway line to Omaruru.|
|Beginning August||The German troops have the following initial position for the Waterberg battle: Unit Von Estorff near Otjahewita; Unit Hermann Sigismund von der Heyde at Omutjatjeira; Unit Mueller at Erindi Ongoahere; Unit Deimling at Okateitei; Unit Von Fiedler at Orupemparora and Unit Volkmann near Otjenga.|
|06.08.||Hosea Kutako defeats a German patrol under the command of Lieutenant Hans Bodo Freiherr von Bodenhausen in a skirmish waged between the Waterberg and Osondjache. Later he is wounded and is held prisoner in Omaruru but manages to escape. After 1907 Kutako is employed as a teacher by the Rhenish Missionary Society but later becomes a worker in the Tsumeb mine.|
|08.08.||A post office is opened at Abbabis.|
|10.08.||Von Trotha plans the final battle
from his headquarters at Ombuatjipiro. He put his plans in his own words: "My
initial plan for the operation, which I always adhered to, was to encircle the masses of
Herero at Waterberg, and to annihilate these masses with a simultaneous blow, then to
establish various stations to hunt down and disarm the splinter groups who escaped, later
to lay hands on the captains by putting prize money on their heads and finally to sentence
them to death".
The German troops have the following positions on this day: Unit Von Estorff at Okomiparum; Unit Von der Heyde at a position 15 km north east of Hamakari (Ohamakari); Unit Mueller at Ombuatjipiro; Unit Deimling at Okateitei; Unit Von Fiedler at the Osondjache Mountain and Unit Volkmann near Otjenga.
|11.08.||The Waterberg battle begins. The
fighting takes place mainly at the areas southeast of the Waterberg (Klein Hamakari and
There are great losses on both sides. The heaviest fighting occurs at the Hamakari waterhole. The main German section under Von Trotha advances from Ombuatjipiro to Hamakari. Berthold von Deimling proceeds from Omuveroume. Von der Heyde attacks from Okakarara, east of Hamakari. At Otjosongombe Von Estorff starts firing on Ovaherero, and defeats them early on 12.08. All other advances planned by the Germans fail on this day. Von Deimling does not succeed in realising Von Trothas plan to trap and defeat the Ovaherero.
An official report later announces: "The bold enterprise shows up in the most brilliant light the ruthless energy of the German command in pursuing their beaten enemy. No pains, no sacrifices were spared in eliminating the last remnants of enemy resistance. Like a wounded beast the enemy was tracked down from one waterhole to the next, until finally he became a victim of his own environment. The arid Omaheke was to complete what the German army had begun: the extermination of the Herero nation."
Major Stuhlmann describes in his diary for this day a scene from the battle of Hamakari where he reflects on the horrors of war and of a wounded Ovaherero child lying next to his cannon: " ... the little worm had flung his arm around the wheel of the cannon, which had possibly destroyed his other family members ... we had been explicitly told beforehand, that this dealt with the extermination of a whole tribe, nothing living was to be spared."
Many dead Ovaherero soldiers are buried by the Germans on Hamakari (Ongwero).
German War Graves from the Battle at the Hamakari/Waterberg:
August 1904: Otjozondjupa Region
Grave of a German Officer on the German Cemetery in
Grootfontein, Otjozondjupa Region
|12.08.||Von Deimling advances to Hamakari, and this is the last straw for the Ovaherero who start fleeing in a south-easterly direction into the waterless Omaheke.|
|13.08.||Berthold von Deimling and Karl Ludwig von Mühlenfels set off in hot pursuit of the main group of Ovaherero advancing to Omutjatjewa. A one-day delay gives Samuel Maharero a lead and saves his life because the Germans are unable to catch up. But a tragic scene unfolds: a nation flees without food or water. The German troops proceed as far as Ombujo-Wakune. Samuel reaches the waterholes of Erindi-Endeka.|
|15.08.||Von Estorff and Von der Heyde defeat the Ovaherero in the battle of Omatupa and prevent them from escaping in a northeasterly direction.|
|16.08.||Von Trotha announces new battle plans to prevent the Ovaherero from re-establishing themselves in the territory. Consequently the Germans try to shut off the Omaheke along a line reaching from Otjimanangombe via Epata, Otjosondu and Osondema to Otjituuo. For physical and strategic reasons the Germans are not able to realise these plans in their entirety.|
|21.08.||Von Trotha fixes a price of 5 000 Mark on Samuel Mahareros head.|
|End August||Some Witbooi Nama soldiers escape with their weapons to Gibeon, fearing the same treatment as the Ovaherero from the Germans. This fear influences Hendrik Witbooi to take up arms against German colonialism. The remaining Witbooi Nama soldiers are disarmed and deported to the German colonies Cameroon and Togo where many die.|
|30.08.||Nama under the leadership of Jakob
Marengo fight the Germans in the skirmish of Kouchanas-||Khauxa!nas, in which German
Commander Nikolai von Stempel is killed.
Grave of the German Unit "Nikolai von Stempel": at
Gugunas South (||Khauxa!nas): 30.08.1904: The Skirmish with Jakob Marengo initiated the
Nama War in the South
|September||The Ovaherero assemble at Okahandja North between the Omatako omuramba and the Eiseb omuramba. They flee further via Otjinene, Epata, Osombo-Windimbe (Ozombo ja Windimba) and Erindi-Ombahe, following the course of the Eiseb omuramba. Zacharias Zeraua from Otjimbingwe reports later that the chiefs Samuel Maharero from Okahandja, Banjo from Otjombonde, David and Salatiel Kambazembi from Waterberg, Ouandja from Otjikururume, Kayata from Otjihaenena, Michael Tyiseseta from Omaruru, Katjahingi and Assa Riarua have assembled at Osombo Onjatu at the Eiseb omuramba. The chiefs Mambo and Tjetjo are also at the Eiseb omuramba, at the water holes Otjinene and Epata.|
|02.09.||Von Estorffs forces attack
Owinauanaua, dislodging the chiefs Mambo and Tjetjo and forcing them to flee eastwards in
the direction of the Bechuanaland Protectorate. Tjetjo dies of thirst at the waterhole
Oruaromunjo and Mambo dies of exhaustion while following Tjetjo.
The few who survive the thirst arrive later in Bechuanaland. This is the second wave of Ovaherero to flee into present-day Botswana (after the Ovambanderu war of 1896).
Some Ovaherero also escape northwards into the Ovamboland. For instance, Daniel Kariko, the former group leader from Okombahe, flees to the Ongandjera King, Tshaanika Tsha Natshilongo after first escaping to Walvis Bay. Later he moves to South Africa.
During their move to the north, some Ovaherero clash with the San group of the Hai|om under the leadership of the Hai|om Chief Arisib. Some Ovaherero are killed by the Hai|om in the skirmish of Namutoni. Ondonga King Nehale later gives an order to kill Arisib.
Other Ovaherero flee into the Kaokoveld, the Kavango (Omuramba rivers south of the Okavango River into the area of the Uukwangali King Himarua as well as the Omuramba Dikundu near Andara) and Angola (Fort Dirico (Gciriku area in the Kavango) and Humpata). Others again move to Shakawe in the northern Bechuanaland and the Caprivi Strip (Kabulabula at the Chobe River).
Some Ovaherero manage to slip through the German cordons and head westwards into central SWA, and have to remain living undetected in the more inhospitable areas of the territory (Khomas Hochland and the course of the Kuiseb River).
German War Grave at the Waterberg Cemetery from the Battle at
Owinauanaua (Omaheke): September 1904: Otjozondjupa Region
|03./04.09.||Jakob Marengo is involved in two skirmishes with the Germans under the command of Major Julius von Lengerke, first in Garabis and then in Platbeen. One of the "white" allies of Marengo is George St. Leger Lennox (nickname Scotty Smith).|
|21.09.||A further encounter between Marengo and the Germans in Gais (Geis), north of Kanus, ends with losses for the Germans.|
|23.09.||Von Estorff requests Von Trotha to start negotiations with the Ovaherero, but the request is rejected.|
|30.09.||Von Trotha decides not to pursue the Ovaherero any further.|
|01.10.||The most important single factor in triggering the uprising of the Nama under the command of Hendrik Witbooi is the threat of the "white" extremists to "make it hot" for the Nama after the crushing of the Ovaherero uprising. The threats range from the disarming of the Nama to the elimination of their group leaders and the dissolution of their tribal system.|
|02.10.||Von Trotha issues a proclamation
threatening the Ovaherero with total extinction: "The Herero are no longer German
subjects. They have murdered and plundered. ... Now, out of cowardice, they want to give
up the fight. ... The Herero nation must leave the country. If it will not do so I shall
compel it by force. Inside German territory every Herero tribesman, armed or unarmed, with
or without cattle, will be shot. No women and children will be allowed in the territory:
they will be driven back to their people or fired on. These are the last words to the
Herero nation from me, the great General of the mighty German Emperor."
Von Trothas proclamation is in effect the mere legal sanctioning of that which, as the numerous diaries of the German Schutztruppen soldiers show, has already been commonplace since January 1904. Some diary entries may serve as examples: Captain Victor Franke writes at Otjihinamaparero on 27.02.: "A wounded man with a terribly damaged leg is brought in . ... He is questioned and then shot, Von Arnim executes him properly. He is shot from the back without noticing what is happening to the unfortunate man." Lieutenant HFR Knoke writes on 08.07.1904: "Of the five captured Herero four have been hung. The 5th is used for labour purposes"; 09.07.: "Our prisoner has a noose around his neck which is then attached to the saddle of a horse. The particular Witbooi ensures that things do not become too comfortable for him"; 16.08.: "A captured Herero female was, ... , set free. However, the bitterness of the people is great. The female had barely left the encampment when two shots were fired. A sign that this one had also left its life."; 07.10: "As last night we had noticed a number of fires in our vicinity, we looked for tracks this morning, ... We junior officers galloped ahead, our men followed on foot. We took the werft [settlement], shot down part of the inhabitants, the remainder we took along as prisoners". In the diaries of Emil Malzahn, who accompanies Von Trotha on one of his pursuits, it is noted that prisoners taken on 26.09. at the waterhole of Owisombo-Owidimbo, are summarily executed: "Newly caught Herero prisoners-of-war were hung by the neck. Since that day, I would often see Herero swaying from the branch of a tree".
Von Trothas genocide and chain orders, however, are later mitigated by the German Government. During a field service at Osombo-Windimbe Von Trotha announces that the war against the Ovaherero would be continued without mercy. He claims that " ... Since I neither can nor will come to terms with these people without express orders from His Majesty the Emperor and King, it is essential that all sections of the nation be subjected to rather stern treatment. I have begun to administer such treatment on my own initiative and, barring orders to the contrary, will continue to do so as long I am in command here. My intimate knowledge of so many Central African tribes - Bantu and others - has made it abundantly plain to me that Negroes will yield only to brute force, while negotiations are quite pointless. Before my departure yesterday I ordered the warriors captured recently to be court-martialled and hanged and all women and children who sought shelter here to be driven back into the sandveld ... ".
At dawn the following morning, Ovaherero prisoners-of-war who had been sentenced to death by a field court martial are hung in the presence of about 30 Ovaherero prisoners-of-war, women and children amongst them. After the hanging, Von Trothas proclamation is read out to the prisoners in Otjiherero.
|03.10.||Hendrik Witbooi rises against the
Germans after the Ovahereros defeats, apparently influenced by Jakob Marengos
successful ||Khauxa!nas skirmish. He clearly understands that "peace will spell death
for me and my nation, for I know that there is no place for me in your midst".
The !Gami-#nun under Jakob Marengo and Johannes Christian (300-400 armed men), the ||Hawoben under Jan Hendrik (150-200 armed men), the Fransman or !Khara-khoen Nama under Simon Koper (600-700 armed men), the Bethany Nama under Cornelius Frederiks (300-400 armed men) and the Kai||khaun under Manasse !Noreseb from Hoachanas (90-100 armed men) unite behind Hendrik Witbooi in their resistance struggle against the Germans.
Only the |Hai-|khauan of Berseba (Christian Goliath), the Herero-Orlams (Kahumba Kakahito or Jan Apollus (chief since 1902)) of Vaalgras/Koichas and the Kharo-!oan of Keetmanshoop (Chief Tseib) do not participate. Leutwein reports later that this was due to the influence of the Rhenish missionaries.
The new war in the south is quite different to the war in the north. While the Germans fight against the Ovaherero in relatively few battles and defeat them in the decisive Waterberg battle, the war in the south takes a new turn. The Nama forces try to avoid a decisive battle and involve the Germans instead in an endless guerilla warfare with numerous skirmishes (more than 200).
German War Cemetery at Gochas: Reflecting the many Battles and
Skirmishes between 1904 and 1908, between Germans and Nama (mainly Witbooi Nama under
Hendrik Witbooi (until 1905) and Fransman Nama (!Khara-khoen) under Simon
Koper (until 1908)): Hardap Region: April 2003
German War Cemetery at Gochas: Reflecting the first Skirmishes
of the Nama War at Gochas and Schürfpenz: between Germans and Witbooi Nama: October 1904:
Hardap Region: April 2003
Henning Konrad von Burgsdorff is killed by the Witbooi Nama Salomon Saal in Marienthal.
Von Trotha gives Leutwein command over the southern front.
The post offices at Gochas and Marienthal are destroyed by Hendrik Witbooi.
Many male farmers including Boers are killed by the Witbooi units. Among them is the farmer Ernst Hermann from Nomtsas. Hendrik Witbooi is opposed to the killing of females and Boers. The first Boers killed are apparently exterminated by accident. Once the killing starts, there is no turning back and many Boers join the German forces.
|05.10.||Jakob Marengo again attacks the Germans (Major Karl Wehle) at Wasserfall. The skirmish ends with losses for the Germans.|
|24.10.||Bethany Nama attack a German patrol near Bethany.|
|27.10.||The battle of Kub (Ober-Packriem) is fought between Witbooi Nama and a German unit under Captain von Krüger.|
|02.11.||The Germans under the command of
first lieutenant von Beesten invite a group of Ovaherero to Ombakaha (Omuramba
Ganas) allegedly to negotiate but instead, the latter are massacred (most of the 70
Ovaherero who came to surrender). Ovaherero Chiefs Joel Kavizeri from Okahandja and Saul
from Otjenga are also killed there. Von Beesten reports: " ... I gave orders to
open fire. For a brief period of time the enemy vigorously returned the fire, but then
careered down the hillside, pursued by our shells and bullets, to come to a halt at a
distance of approximately 300 metres. In the meantime the kapteins and headmen had tried
to escape and had all been killed within a radius of 10 to 300 metres ... About 12 noon
the remainder of the enemy withdrew. As far as I know, no one escaped unscathed ... There
were no casualties on our side."
A post office is opened in Usakos.
Marengo attacks the German military station at Hasuur. The Germans are forced to flee over the border into British territory.
|04.11.||Construction of the wooden jetty in Swakopmund begins (designed to measure 325 m in length and 9 m in width) because the port mole is silting up. The wooden jetty is demolished by the South Africans in 1919.|
|05.11.||Jakob Marengo is involved in a skirmish with the Germans at Umeis, south of Warmbad.|
|07.11.||The post office at the Waterberg is reopened.|
|11.11.||Construction of a new port jetty in Lüderitz commences (80 m long, 5 m wide).|
|14.11.||Hendrik Witbooi writes to Theodor Leutwein: "As you point out, I have for ten years stood in your law, under your law, and behind your law and not I alone but all the chiefs of Africa. For this reason I fear God the Father. All the souls which have for the last ten years perished from all the nations of Africa and from among all the chiefs, without guilt or cause, and under treaties of peace, accuse me, I will have to answer a great reckoning to God ... ."|
|22.11.||The battle of Kub is fought between
Hendrik Witbooi and Germans under Von Deimling and Von Krüger. Some local Boer farmers
fight on the German side. One is Edward Mostert who later is decorated by the Germans.
The German Police Station at Kub at the Upper Fish River near
Kalkrand: Hardap Region
German War Grave of the Kub Battle: 22.11.
|25.11.||The battle of Alurisfontein, south of Warmbad, is fought between the Germans under Captain von Koppy and Lieutenant Count Alfred Kageneck and Jakob Marengo with Johannes Christian. Lieutenant Louis Klaus Emil von Heydebreck is killed. The battle ends with heavy losses for the Germans.|
|27./28.11.||Warmbad is attacked by Jakob Marengo and Abraham Morris.|
|28.11.||Lidfontein south of Hoachanas is attacked.|
|End November||Leutwein leaves the colony and returns to Germany.|
|December||The post office at Kuis is relocated to Kub.|
|Beginning December||The battles of Naris and Rietmond
are fought between Nama and the Germans under Von Deimling.
The Germans try to attack Hendrik Witbooi with three units: the Unit Johann Meister approaches with 223 soldiers via the Auob River from the north; the Unit Ritter attacks with 110 soldiers via Aukam from the west and the Unit Lengerke attacks with 300 soldiers via Koes and Persip from a southwesterly direction.
German War Grave of the Naris Battle: 07.12.1904
|03.12.||The new port jetty in Lüderitz is completed.|
|07.12.||Samuel Maharero arrives with his group at Tsau, approximately 40 km north of Lake Ngami and from there proceed to Makalamabedi at the Botletle River. In 1907 he moves on to the Transvaal in South Africa. In spite of the war between the Germans and the Ovaherero and Nama, the Witwatersrand Native Labour Association (WNLA) continues its recruitment campaign for the gold mines of the Transvaal. Also Maharero and many of his followers are also recruited.|
||Chief Michael Tyiseseta and nine
followers escape the Germans and Michael hands himself over to the British authorities in
Walvis Bay. He dies 1923 in Krugersdorp in South Africa. His last remains are transferred
to Namibia in 2004.
Between 800 and 1 000 Ovaherero make their way to Walvis Bay and approximately 1 175 to British Bechuanaland.
Some Ovaherero including Haingombe, Wilhelm Katjisume, Thomas Mutate and Martin Kazerewi escape into Angola, where they join Vita Tom. Later the Okahandja Ovaherero prefer the leadership of Salatiel Kambazembi who temporarily also joins Vita.
Correspondence between Von Trotha and missionary Kuhlmann contains evidence that the Rhenish Missionary Society supports the German war efforts against the Namibians.
|09.12.||The German Emperor instructs Von
Trotha (letter by German Chancellor, Bernhard Fürst von Bülow, dated 11.12.) to erect,
with the assistance of the missions, concentration camps in which to confine surviving
Ovaherero. (The concept of "concentration camps" was borrowed from South Africa
, where only a few years ago the British had been responsible for thousand of deaths,
using concentration camps in the Boer War, 1899-1902). As such the new German camps were
called Konzentrationslager and throughout the colony the scattered Ovaherero were
rounded up and sent to these camps.
In consequence of the imperial order, Ludwig von Estorff, who is at this stage stationed at Owinauanaua at the Eiseb omuramba, calls upon the Ovaherero to surrender and promises to spare their lives and resettle them in the areas from which they originally come. But Von Trotha reacts to Von Estorff by "You have nothing to promise." One of the leaders who trusts Von Estorffs promise is Chief Zacharias Zeraua from Otjimbingwe. In breach of von Estorffs promise, Zeraua is not permitted to return to Otjimbingwe. Instead in captivity Zeraua is immediately interrogated and charged with instigating the murder of "white" settlers. Later in Court (22.05.1905) Zeraua states under oath: "Before the beginning of the war I did not hold meetings with the captains in Okahandja, therefore I knew nothing of an impending war. I also did not receive a letter from Samuel that he wanted to make war."
|15.12.||The battle of Koes is fought
between Major von Lengerke and the ||Hawoben under Jan Hendrik.
German War Cemetery at Koës: Reflecting the many Battles and
Skirmishes between Germans and Nama in the Kalahari Desert: Between 1904 and 1912
German War Cemetery at Koës: Reflecting the Battle between the
German Unit "Lengerke" and the ||Hawoben (Veldschoendragers) under the Command
of Chief Jan Hendrik: 15.12.1904
|21.12.||The battle of Uibis is fought at the Hutup River between Bethany Nama under Cornelius Frederiks and the Germans under Lieutenant Ritter.|
|23.12.||A Roman Catholic mission station is established in Usakos.|
|End December||Four thousand fresh German troops with 198 commissioned officers arrive in Swakopmund.|
Epata in the Omuramba Eiseb where the Tragedy of the fleeing
Ovaherero unfolded during the Ovaherero-German War of 1904
Copyright of Photos: Dr. Klaus Dierks
The German War Cemetery at Outjo (Kunene Region) remembers also
the Great Resistance War between Germans and Ovaherero in the Year 1904: The Fighting went
on until December 1904 (Skirmish of Gr. Tsaub)
Copyright of Photos: Dr. Klaus Dierks
Ox-Wagon Roads Network for 1904 (German War Map)