The Deutsche Reich as Colonial Power

Adolf Lüderitz acquires large pieces of land around Angra Pequena

In 1883, salesman Adolf Lüderitz from Bremen, through his agent Heinrich Vogelsang, acquired large pieces of land around Angra Pequena (Lüderitz Bay) from Nama chief Joseph Fredericks. Lüderitz planned the foundation of a German colony in South West Africa, in order to prevent the growing flood of emigrants from being completely lost to other countries. Later, he also acquired the big strip of land from the Oranje to the 26th degree of southern latitude. He quickly tried to ask the German government for the protection of his lands. The British let Reichskanzler Bismarck know that they wouldn’t acknowledge any foreign power’s tenure on the area between the Portuguese properties above the 18th degree of southern latitude and the border of the Cape Colony. However, when Britain also denied the protection of German settlements in South West Africa, Bismarck interpreted this as an Abandonment of British tenure on the Herero and Nama areas and in 1884 declared South West Africa to be a German protectorate. The German Empire showed its preparedness to protect the region by sending three warships to the African coast.

Berlin Congo Conference sets borders of Namibia

On the Berlin Congo Conference in 1884, Germany, Portugal and Britain settled for arbitrarily set borders of Namibia.

The “Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft für Südwestafrika” (German Colonial Society for South West Africa) was founded in 1885. Out of sheer lack of money, Adolf Lüderitz sold his land to the newly founded society. He couldn’t know then, that he just had lost a fortune of billions. When he went looking for minerals on his own in 1886, he did not return and remained missing. It is not clear whether he drowned or was killed by natives.

The first commissioner (Reichskommissar) worked with a colonial administration of only three men. The city that served as the colonial capital at the time was Otjimbingwe. News about goings-on further inland were scarce.

The German protective troops