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AUS NAMIBIA SCHUTZTUPPE PRISONER OF WAR CAMP 1915-1919. By August 1915 most of the Aus POWs had been encamped, and it was not long before the prisoners would learn of the severe...

 

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Aus Namibia Schutztruppe Prisoner of War Camp 1915 - 1919

 

The Great War began in August 1914 and by early 1915 the numerically stronger and better supplied South African troops were steadily sweeping their way through the German colony of South West Africa. The inevitable final surrender was signed by Governor Dr. T. Sietz on 9 July 1915 alongside the railroad track at a place named at Kilometre 500 just north of Otavi and is known as the Treaty of Khorab. One of the conditions was that all German non-commissioned-officers, active troops and members of the German police force in the colony would be interned until the end of the war. A couple of kilometres to the east of Aus can be seen the few remains of the Aus Prisoner Of War Camp to where the Schutztruppe were transported and kept prisoner until the end of April 1919. There's not much left to see as the elements have eroded nearly all of the mud brick buildings down to ground level.

 

Aus Namibia Direction Map to Aus POW Camp Sadly, the commemorative plaque for the site has been torn away from its place, so there's not much to see, and many tourists find themselves disappointed when arriving at the site. However, if you have any connection with one of the soldiers who were interned there, or other interest this is briefly what it's all about.

Three German officers were charged with maintaining discipline amongst the POWs. These were initially: Captain Mannhardt, Captain Von Munstermann and Captain Berlin who was later relieved by Lieutenant Von Lossnitzer.The Union of South Africa camp guards comprised of members of the volunteer corps & veterans regiment. The camp commanders were: Lieutenant Colonel

WH Scarth (1915-1917), and Lieutenant Colonel CW Lewis (1917 - 1919). On average there were about 600 guards to 1,438 POWs.

 

Aus Namibia POW Camp Memorial Stone (Less Plaque)

Plaque Removed

Aus Namibia POW Camp  location looking east.

The Kaiser's Monument ?

   

Aus Namibia POW Camp The Kaiser's Monument

Kaiser's Monument

When the soldiers reached their destination and were marched to the east of the settlement of Aus the view they were presented with what could not be described as being other than a bleak outlook. Twelve thousand kilometres away from country, family and loved ones, and  with the 'prize' of an escape that would lead them to 'Nowhere'. It was here on the eastern plains of Aus that they were to erect rows of army bell-tents that were to be their homes for an undetermined period until the end of the war. The plains offered no shelter from the changeable weather conditions of the region.

 

 

Aus Namibia POW Camp mud brick houses

Mud-Brick Houses

Aus Namibia POW camp

The POW Camp

Aus Namibia POW Camp Schutztruppe funeral parade

Funeral Parade

 

By August 1915 most of the Aus POWs had been encamped, and it was not long before the prisoners would learn of the severe and changeable weather conditions in this area. In one single week during September 1915 searing heat carried by high winds scorched the camp. This was almost immediately followed by a bitterly cold snap that brought with it snow; and to exacerbate matters even more it was followed by hot sand-storms. The conditions were challenging, but with a mixture of their tough Schutztruppe experiences, German resolve, and the will to survive in a bit more comfort the troops were soon manufacturing sun-dried-mud-bricks with which they built dwellings that offered better protection from the elements, and for some time were even better accommodated that their South African prison overseers, until wooden sheds were provided for the latter.

 

The Aus Prisoners Of War established vegetable and flower gardens, formed sports teams, and even built a monument to celebrate the Kaiser's birthday on 27th January. In 1916 the South Africans erected guard houses at the corners of the camp, and paid the POWs 10 shillings per 1,000 for the bricks that were needed for the constructions.

 

Nineteen-eighteen witnessed the Great Influenza Pandemic and the during the months of November and December a total of 65 Prisoners of War, and 60 of their overseer guards perished of the illness. These figures interestingly represent a 4.1% POW death rate, against an 8.3% Garrison death rate. They were buried in a small cemetery just north of the B4 road.

 

The German graves are maintained by the Kreigsgraberfursorge Namibia, Tel )61 226689 Postfach 5648, Windhoek.

The Allied Graves are maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Society

 

Acknowledgements and further reading: H12, H23, P1, P2, P3

Local Area Attractions & Articles of Associated Interest:

Accommodation

Aus POW Camp

Aus Military Cemetary Wild Horses at Garup Map Directions
 
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