"Schutztruppe graves from Battle of the Waterberg" Waterberg Platopark Things to Do Tip by CatherineReichardt
Waterberg Platopark Things to Do: 10 reviews and 12 photos
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A few lonely Schutztruppe graves in a small and little-visited military cemetery are the only tangible evidence of what was probably the largest battle ever fought on Namibian soil.
The Waterberg region is the heartland of the Herero people, who rose up against German colonial rule in 1904. The largest battle of this conflict took place at the Waterberg in August 1904, when 1,600 Schutztruppe cornered about 40.000 Herero men, women and children. The Herero forces were no match for the well armed and highly organised German forces, and the resultant loss of life was considerable. Hereros lucky enough to escape alive fled eastwards into the desert, and were granted asylum in Bechuanaland (now Botswana) by the British on condition that they did not continue the revolt on British soil.
Not long after the Battle of the Waterberg, the German commander Lothar von Trotha issued anextermination order, declaring that "Any Herero found within the German borders with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot".
The German-Herero war resulted in relatively small numbers of casualties in formal conflict (such as the Battle of the Waterberg), but most of those who fled into the desert died of thirst and starvation. There are reports of wells being poisoned as part of a systematic programme of extermination, as well as medical experiments being conducted on Herero prisoners in internment camps.
Estimates of the Herero death toll during the war range between 24,000 and 100,000. Later in the same year, the Nama people also revolted, and met a similar fate - resulting in an estimated 10,000 Nama deaths. This must have been a staggering proportion of the indigenous population at the time (given that Namibia only has a population of just over 2 million over a century later).
Sorry - no photos as the camera decided to malfunction at this point!
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