Imperial Germany and The Southwest Afrika Colonies - Derrittmeister Militaria Group

Imperial Germany and The Southwest Afrika Colonies

Written by: Alore Arrington, Chief Spokesperson

Imperial Germany was a colonial power from 1884 to 1919, controlling territories in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. One of the most significant German colonies was Southwest Afrika, present-day Namibia. The German presence in Southwest Afrika was characterized by brutal colonization, exploitation, and genocide. This post aims to provide an overview of Imperial Germany's colonization of Southwest Afrika, including its effects on the local population, and available resources for further study.

German colonization of Southwest Afrika began in 1884 when German trader Adolf Lüderitz purchased land from a local Nama leader. The German government then claimed the territory as a protectorate, sparking conflicts with local communities. The German colonial authorities implemented a system of forced labor, displacing indigenous populations, and seizing their land. In 1904, the Herero and Nama people rebelled against German rule, leading to a brutal military campaign by German forces. It resulted in the deaths of approximately 75% of the Herero people and 50% of the Nama people.

The German colonial administration justified their actions by claiming that the indigenous people were "uncivilized" and needed to be "civilized." This mindset was influenced by Social Darwinism, a pseudo-scientific theory that argued that some races were superior to others. It led to the implementation of policies such as the Native Administration Proclamation, which institutionalized racial segregation, and the Herero and Namaqua Genocide.

The effects of German colonization in Southwest Afrika are still felt today. The Herero and Nama people are still seeking reparations for the atrocities committed by the German colonial administration. The Namibian government has also sought the return of human remains taken by German researchers during the colonial period.

There are several resources available for those interested in learning more about Imperial Germany's colonization of Southwest Afrika. The German Historical Museum has an online exhibition titled "Genocide in German South West Africa," which includes photographs, documents, and background information on the topic. The Namibia National Archives has a collection of colonial documents available for research, including reports from German officials and correspondence with indigenous leaders. The University of Namibia has an online repository of academic papers, theses, and dissertations related to Namibian history, including studies on German colonization.

In conclusion, Imperial Germany's colonization of Southwest Afrika was a tragic chapter in the country's history. It led to the deaths of thousands of people and the displacement of indigenous populations. However, it is essential to remember these events and learn from them to prevent similar atrocities from happening in the future.



"Genocide in German South West Africa" - German Historical Museum

"Namibian National Archives" - National Archives of Namibia

"Namibian Historical Repository" - University of Namibia

"German South West Africa" - Encyclopaedia Britannica

Back to blog