The German Protective Troops

The first German protective troops under Curt von François in South West Africa

In 1889, the first German protective troops under Curt von François were sent to South West Africa. The troops were set up in police fashion and was not meant for combat. The Hereros’ hostile position was a special problem for the Germans.

In 1890, Curt von François made Windhoek the capital of the German administration. The protectorate troops were continuously increased.

The Helgolad-Sansibar treaty, which was signed in the same year, added the Caprivi Strip to the protectorate. Leo von Caprivi, Bismarck’s successor, wanted to create a land bridge between the colonies German South West Africa and German East Africa.

Protection contracts and Hendrik Witbooi's resistance

The Germans negotiated so-called protection contracts with the leaders of the Herero, Nama and the Rehobother Baster. Because of their “police like character,” the German protectorate troops observed the tribal fights, especially among the Nama and Herero, with strict neutrality. In the end, the enemies were propitiated with the help of commissioner von François in the peace treaty of Otjimbingwe. This sudden end of tribal feuds had dramatic results: The path for a massive insurgence against the Germans was clear.

Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi refused to recognize the German protection contracts. In April 1893, Curt von François decided to attack Witbooi’s troops. The victory was dear, both sides had great losses. Witbooi was able to flee with the better part of his people and from then on kept attacking Germans and caravans. Freshly appointed commander Mayor Leutwein finally defeated Witbooi in the Naukluft Mountains in 1894. Witbooi then recognized the protection contract and undertook to serve in the future in the order of the German army with his able men. Indeed, a time of peaceful coexistence followed.

More and more Germans in Namibia

More and more German traders and farmers came to the country. The development German South West progressed. For naives it was increasingly difficult to access grazing land and water. In 1897, there was a great outbreak of bovine plague which destroyed almost all cattle of the natives very quickly.

Herero and Nama rising