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mthatcher61

Report on Lettow and the askari in GEA

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Heliographen-Abteilung

James W

I respectfully agree with Harry that this is a debate / discussion that should be preserved in the other thread as well.

But, while we're here - the one man that is responsible for what happened to the Herero and Namaqua is Trotha. It was his decision to carry out the war as he did and he wrote the proclamation that sealed the fate of the Herero (he wrote another later especially addressed to the Nama).

The German government is responsible as well because they did not immediately repudiate the order. In any event, the German actions in DSWA are repugnant to us today, but theirs were not the only violations of human rights.

You rightly mention Belgium and King Leopold - but don't forget that the government stripped him of "his" territory only after an international outcry. Had there been a war - Belgium probably would have lost the territory to France, much as Germany did to the Allies.

The same can be said of Great Britain in the Boer War with their concentration camps. I won't mention the native Americans and the reservations.... or China in Tibet...

That does not excuse Germany but it was a mindset of the colonizing power that might makes right. Today there is no country immune from scrutiny

VR

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Heliographen-Abteilung

Harry

While I agree to some extent that this was "all in a day's work" for many colonizers - it was recognized as wrong by many in Europe at the time. Trotha was roundly criticized for his order in the Bundestag and it was countered by von Bulow under the Emperor's signature.

But, to say the colonial administration and not the Schutztruppen, that is to say Trotha was responsible is not a credible argument.

Trotha was the Supreme Commander of the colony as well as the military and it was under his orders that the campaign was carried out.

VR

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Heliographen-Abteilung

Mark

Nice report. I would, however, observe that unlike the commanders in Cameroon and DSWA. Lettow fought a drawn out irregular campaign that tied up significant amounts of Allied resources for the entire war. These were resources that could well have been used in Europe and brought the war possibly to an earlier conclusion. As you said he didn't lose, but he won by not losing.

Lettow also made a significant change in his tactics early on in the war, from conventional head-on confrontations to hit and run operations that suited the asymmetrical nature of the conflict. This was because he realized that he could not win a conventional war. This was unlike LTC Franke, the successor to LTC Heydebreck, who never attempted anything but conventional tactics in DSWA. This was surprising because Franke had fought against the rebels in DSWA and should have known how difficult they were to counter if properly employed.

VR

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Anncie

I just read your essay which brought to mind something you may not know: that the English edition of Mein Leben has JUST been published by Jerry Rilling, in Illinois. I received my copy two days ago. I wish I'd had the English version when I wrote my book "Seventeen Letters to Tatham: A WWI Surgeon in East Africa" The Lettow-Vorbeck book is beautifully done, looking exactly like the original. Very impressive.

Anncie

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hog

One of the men in the British forces trying to find Lettow-Vorbeck would have been this man.

Frederick-Selous-chair-1.jpg

Captain Frederick Courtney Selous who was 64 years old at the time of the conflict, he was awarded the DSO for his actions and was killed by a sniper at the battle at the Rufiji River.

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Anncie

Great photo, thanks. Anncie

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David Filsell

Terrific thread guys - fascinating stuff - and so polite too

Inexpertly David

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stevebecker

Mates,

Its an area I've long took an interest in after reading "The Ghosts of Africa" by Stevenson many years ago, and after reading your articale how different both veiws are.

But after reading the many installments of this campage by Harry, who had me transfixed by his accounts of all the actions of that area, with photos and descriptions of the actions.

Its always good to test all veiws of the story, and never get fixed into one slot.

Thanks again for the informitive coments from all so far.

S.B

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JSAfrika

Mark

One thing before all else - the correct spelling for the Schutztruppe commander in DSWA is Heydebreck - a small thing but details count.

Some loosely connected thoughts about v L-V:

I would add that vL-V's experience in the Herero and Namaqua uprisings may have inculcated in him an idea of guerrilla war (Buschkrieg) long before he got to DOA.

His initial operations against the British in Kenya showed him the difficulties of sustaining conventional operations without good logistics and his ideas on how best to fight began to change thereafter.

He also had a significant amount of time to prepare for war, as the South Africans were involved in DSWA until mid-1915. Many of those troops were the ones that fought against him.

As to the Genocide and the involvement of the Schutztruppe, I do not have any doubt that it was fully supported by military. The so-called "Extermination Order" (posted by Mark above) was promulgated by General von Trotha.

While the killing of the natives happened mostly through neglect, forced labor, and exposure in camps run by the administration - it was the military commander who set the stage. There were many players who contributed, including civilians.

The Germans were not nice to their colonial indigenous peoples, but neither were the Portuguese and Belgians. Or, for that matter, the British in South Africa or the Americans in the Philippines.

Not wanting to get too far out on a tangent, I will only add this comment by the British Military Observer / Attaché Colonel Frederick Trench:

Witboois (a subgroup of the Nama) were promised freedom when they surrendered, meaning only to build as they liked, but not where, still less to dispose of their time and persons as they liked. From the South, they were moved to Windhoek. After 6 months, several of them having run away, they were moved to Shark Island at Lüderitz Bay. I have already, from Lüderitz Bay, reported on the exposure and lack of sanitation; if they still exist, it is not easy to avoid the impression that the extinction of the people would be welcomed by the authorities. I have observed, however, that a quarter century of Colonial Empire has not sufficed to teach the fact that a black man is a human being, and also entitled to having faith kept with him.”

VR

James

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ATM

A fascinating read this thread. Also, as mentioned by someone else, nice to see it debated in a civil way too.

Just going back a bit to a point earlier in this thread. It is discussed about the recruitment/composition/ethnicity of the Askaris. I have a book about the Indian Army in East Africa by S.D. Prahdan. In it it states that the German forces in East Africa received a boost before the war when men from the recently disbanded KAR battalions went on the German payroll. Is this true? The book, I must admit, is littered with a number of errors. However I think I have read this somewhere else before though I am unsure where. If it is true has anybody an idea of how many ex British Askaris joined up in GEA?

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bushfighter

Aters

Greetings

YES - the 2nd Battalion The King's African Rifles, a Nyasaland battalion, was disbanded a couple of years before the Great War started.

The reason was that the battalion used to serve 'roulemont' tours on British East Africa's (Kenya's) northern and eastern borders, but in 1911 the government of British East Africa (which was dominated by white settlers who complained about taxation) decided not to pay the transport costs for the battalion.

It is believed that most of the battalion swiftly marched across Nyasaland's northern border and into the Schutztruppe, where those with leadership abilities proved to be very useful non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

Later during the Great War, when Germany was on the back foot, many of these Askari came over to the KAR and were very effective when being used as NCOs in the new KAR battalions.

Harry

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ATM

Thanks for elaborating on that. Another tragic irony of the campaign.

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