World War I

General mobilization of the protection troops in Namibia

On August 1st 1914, World War I began. Within a few days, Germany was at war with Russia, France, Belgium and England. On August 7th, the general mobilization of the protection troops in Namibia began. Having been as strong as 15 000 men for some time in 1907, by 1904 the troops in Namibia had been reduced to 2 000 active soldiers and 3 000 on the reserve list and was quite insufficiently prepared and equipped for the tasks ahead.

Before the war broke out, the Prime Minister of the South African Union, General Botha, had announced in his parliament that in case of a war, he would fight with the British. Botha confronted the Germans with 60 000 men and could have doubled their strength if needed.

South African Union and Angola declare war against Germany

On September 9th, the South African Union declared war against Germany. By October, the Union’s troops had not only occupied the south of the country but Lüderitz Bay and the North East of the Caprivi Strip, as well. The hope of the Germans that there would be a boorish rising in South Africa so that the Union would be bound on their own turf did not come to pass.

Angola, a Portuguese colony which officially was neutral at the time, yielded to British pressure and joined the Union.

On March 20th 1915, the protection troops cleared the South of the country, on 7th of April, they cleared the centre and Windhoek. On the 9th of July, the Germans under Oberstleutnant Franke signed a ceasefire. Five weeks later, the complete area was occupied by Union troops.

In the peace treaty of Versailles of 1919, Germany lost all entitlements to colonial property. South West Africa became mandatory territory of the League of Nations. After numerous evictions, 6 700 Germans were allowed to remain in the country.

Namibia under South African Government