Eagle Monument, Keetmanshoop
The “Eagle Monument” in Keetmanshoop commemorates the German soldiers who were killed in the Herero and Nama wars in 1897, 1903 and 1906-1907 respectively. It is shaped in the form of an obelisk and topped with the German Imperial eagle in bronze.
Another memorial at the same site commemorates those who fell during the course of WWII. The latter, however, is not part of the national monument.
In the past, commemorative services were held at this memorial in November each year, at which the fallen of both World Wars were remembered. Occasionally, music was provided in the adjacent bandstand by a brass band from the Nama community.
The monument and bandstand are situated in the center of Keetmanshoop in the little park adjacent to the Post Office in Keetmanshoop, the capital of the south of Namibia.
Rhenish Mission Church, Keetmanshoop
The Rhenish Mission Society played an important part in the development of Keetmanshoop, where Nama Kaptein Tseib and his followers had settled in 1866. The name of the settlement was then still Swartmodder or Zwartmorast (which respectively mean “black mud” and “black marsh”).
The missionary Dr Carl Hugo Hahn had requested the Society to establish a mission station here. The erection of the first church was made possible by a private donation of 1,000 gold Marks from the chairman of the Rhenish Mission Society in Germany, a certain Mr Johann Keetman, in 1866. Since Keetman had invested a considerable amount, not only of money, but also of hope in the project, the village was named Keetmanshoop (literally, “Keetman’s hope”) after him.
This first church was built by Rev. Tobias Fenchel. It was situated near the original spring in the Aub River from which Swartmodder had received its name. The church was washed away when the river came down in flood after a heavy rain in 1890, since nobody new that the shallow ground on which it stood was actually a dry river bed. The wooden pulpit and the altar Bible were later recovered downstream.
It was then decided that a stone church should be built. The site on which the church was to be erected was donated to the Rhenish Mission Society by Captain Tseib. The building materials were transported from Angra Pequena (now Lüderitz) by oxwagon. Rev. Tobias Fenchel, who supervised the construction, chose the church in his home town in Germany, namely Gambach, as the example for this one. The Nama members of the congregation helped to construct the church, which was consecrated on 8 May 1895. It was situated on higher ground than the first church, and was spacious enough to accommodate up to 1,000 people. This church still stands today, and is the oldest building in Keetmanshoop.
The Rhenish Mission Church is situated in Sam Nujoma Avenue in Keetmanshoop. It was proclaimed a national monument on 9 June 1978.
Old Post Office Building, Keetmanshoop
In 1908, Gottlieb Redecker, the official builder of the German colonial government’s Works Department, drew up plans for a new post office building in Keetmanshoop. Although Keetmanshoop already had a post office at that stage, it was no longer able to serve its purpose effectively because the village was expanding very quickly with its new status as a railway junction and military and administrative centre for the south. Consequently, the need for a larger post office which supplied not only more office space, but also accommodation for the post office personnel as well as a telegraphic antenna, had increased significantly.
The building was erected by the firm Seebach & Bach and completed in 1910, and commissioned on 1 August that year. Like a number of buildings in Keetmanshoop, it is made of granite due to the stone’s durability and low maintenance. Air-dried bricks were only used for the interior. Building wood and corrugated iron were obtained from Cape Town, while the doors and windows were imported from Germany. The building consisted of an anteroom, a spacious hall with reception counters, two telegraphic service offices, a storeroom, an office for the postmaster, and living quarters for two post office officials. All of these rooms can still be seen in the building. The building also features two verandas alongside the central tract, through which the former accommodations of the post office personnel could be reached.
The aesthetic façade features a high, pointed gable topped by a broad, rectangular tower. A telegraphic antenna was originally fixed to the top of the tower. Stepped gables, which are smaller than the centre gable, continue the façade in respect of both front corners of the building. The windows at the front of the building are framed with blocks of stone. The small round-arched windows in the central and corner gables enhance the aesthetic value of the building.
The Old Post Office Building is situated on the corner of Hampie Plichta and Sixth Avenues. It was officially proclaimed a national monument on 2 February 1987.
Monument at Kub, Kalkrand
The Monument commemorates the battle at Kub between the Nama and the Germans on 22 November 1904. It is situated on the Farm Voigtskub, a few hundred metres east of the road between Kalkrand and Maltahöhe along the Fish River.
In its time, Kub was a flourishing settlement. It housed the first school for Afrikaans-speaking people in Namibia founded in 1903, a hotel, and a police station, of which the small gaol consisting of two cells from German times still exists. The first Afrikaans school is commemorated by a small memorial stone, placed in 1953. Another monument commemorates the seven Boer volunteers who were killed in the battle at Kub.
The police station later built by the South African Police (SAP) near the monument has since been demolished, but a large concrete “SAP” sign near the monument remains as a reminder of its existence. A graveyard of early Boer settlers as well as one with fallen German soldiers can also be found at Kub.
The monument is an impressive pyramid believed to once have been topped by the German Imperial Eagle, although no proof exists. It is situated about 0.5 km on the eastern side of the C21 road, 25 km from Kalkrand, en route to Maltahöhe.
Evangelical Lutheran Church Complex, Bethanië
In 1814 missionery Johann Heinrich Schmelen (1777-1848) of the London Missionary Society settled at Bethanië. Shortly after his arrival he built a small, one-roomed stone house. Schmelen lived in this room until his departure in 1834. The building burnt down at some stage between 1830 and 1842.
In 1842 the station was taken over by missionary Hans Christian Knudsen (1818-1863) of the Rhenish Mission Society. He was active in Bethanië until 1851. He rebuilt Schmelen’s original house from the remaining foundations, and lived there for several years. During his stay in Bethanië, Knudsen persuaded the leader of the Nama of Bethanië, Petrus Frederiks, to donate the house and the adjacent piece of land to the Rhenish Mission Society. Since then, the house has been the property of the Society and its successors in title.
The house measures approximately 9 m x 3.5 m wide and 3.75 m high. Knudsen built the walls by piling up flat stones halfway, and finishing them off with clay bricks. Inside they were plastered with cow dung and clay. It was limewashed several times in varying colours. The roof was built from camelthorn beams, covered with reeds and bulrush mats, and capped with a layer of clay. In the western wall was a firing-port, facing the original spring. The dwelling is a unique feature of early pre-colonial architecture in Namibia.
The historical significance of this house lies in the fact that it is believed to be the second oldest house to be built by Europeans in Namibia. The oldest house was built by the Wesleyan missionaries at Warmbad in 1806, but it was destroyed by Jager Afrikaner, father of Jonker Afrikaner, in 1812. The new missionary house in Warmbad, erected in 1834, was also built on the ruins of the former dwelling. This makes Rev. Schmelen’s Cottage the oldest existing building in the country.
The mission church, built by Herrmann Heinrich Kreft (1823-1878) of the Rhenish Mission Society, was one of the first mission churches in Namibia. The building works started in the beginning of 1859. The parish at Bethanië supported Kreft eagerly with the construction and the Nama leader, David Christian, provided the windows and the pulpit. On 26 June 1859 the church was consecrated. The church originally had two towers, and served as a reminder of the church at Unterbarmen in Germany.
A few metres away from Schmelen House and the original mission church is a small cemetery in which a couple of missionaries and their relatives, who had worked in Bethanië, lie buried. Amongst others, missionery Kreft and his wife, and the missionaries Johannes Bam (1849-1891) and M Gorth are buried here.
The complex comprises the Stone cottage (Reverend Schmelen’s Cottage), the original mission church in Bethanië, and the adjacent graveyard.
The complex is situated in Bethanie and was proclaimed a national monument on 1 February 1952.
Josef Frederiks’ House, Bethanië
“The cottage of Captain Josef Frederiks” is the house of the erstwhile Kaptein Josef Frederiks, leader of the Nama of Bethanië and Raadsaal (“Conference Chamber”) of the Bethanië Nama Council. It was built in 1883 by a European who came from Upington (whose name has long since been forgotten). It was occupied by Frederiks from 1883 till his death in 1893. His wife remained in the house while his successor, Paul Frederiks, lived in a wattle-and-daub hut nest to it. The meetings of the Bethanië Nama Council were discontinued in the Raadsaal after Josef Frederiks’ death.
On 1 May 1883, Heinrich Vogelsang, the representative of the trader FAE Lüderitz, signed a treaty with Joseph Frederiks. The treaty set out the circumstances under which Lüderitz came to own Angra Pequena as well as the surrounding land within a radius of five miles (about 8 km). According to Vogelsang’s diary, this agreement was signed in a stone building that served as a “House of Parliament”.
During the Nama uprisings led by Hendrik Witbooi in 1906, the German Authorities imprisoned Joseph Frederiks’ successor, Paul Frederiks, and Joseph Frederiks’s wife. The house was consequently confiscated and let to a certain Mr Hite for two years.
During the years the building was let out to various people and decayed to a considerable extent until it was fully restored in 1990 by the National Monuments Council.
The architecture of the building resembles the mode of construction of Rev. Schmelen’s Cottage. It is also built from flat stones and mortar, capped with a roof of camelthorn beams, reeds and clay. Never having undergone any structural changes, this building constitutes a unique example of pre-colonial building methods.
Josef Frederiks’ House is situated on the corner of Schmelen and Keetmanshoop Streets in Bethanië. The building was officially proclaimed a national monument on 15 June 1951.
Prisoner-of-War Camp, Aus
The prisoner-of-war camp was erected after the conclusion of peace in July 1915 between the German and Union forces in South Africa. A total of 1 552 prisoners of war were initially based in this camp. This figure however, later rose to 1 845 and by November 1915 dropped to 1 500. This number remained constant hereafter until the official closing of the camp on 13 May 1919.
Although the prisoners knew they would only live there for a short while, they built solid dwellings using stone, clay and corrugated iron. Their moral was good and they laid out flower and vegetable gardens and practiced a variety of sports. A brass band provided musical entertainment by holding concerts on a regular basis. They had a movie projector and the prisoners put on plays themselves.
The remains of the POW’s huts can be seen 5 km east of Aus on the B4 road, and it was claimed a national monument on 15 June 1985.
Evangelical Lutheran Church, Lüderitz
The Evangelical Lutheran Church, popularly known as the Felsenkirche (literally: “church on the rocks”), is the highest placed of all the buildings in Lüderitz. The German name comes from the fact that its foundations are a natural granite outcrop (i.e. a Felsen).
This church is not only one of Namibia’s architectural jewels, but also one of the oldest Evangelical Lutheran churches in Namibia.
At the turn of the 20th century, as the German period in Namibia began, the European population in Lüderitz was too small to justify establishing an independent Lutheran parish. However, as rebellion against German colonialism increased during 1904-1907, so did the number of military units stationed at Lüderitz. The number of German inhabitants in the town increased further in 1908 with the completion of the railway line between Lüderitz and the interior and with the discovery of diamonds in the area around Lüderitz. The result of this development was the establishment of a more permanent European population in Lüderitz.
On 19 November 1911, the church’s cornerstone was laid. The appointed building contractor was Albert Bause, and the building costs amounted to 47,000 German Marks. The colourful windows of the church were a contribution by Emperor Wilhelm II and Johann Albrecht von Mecklenburg, and were delivered by the firm W Franke. The church was consecrated on 4 August 1912.
The church features a more “Victorian Gothic” architecture that the contemporary German neo-Gothic style. This may be due to the fact that the four brothers Bause, one of whom was the builder of the church, had immigrated to Namibia from Cape Town and may have been influenced by the English Victorian style of the Cape Colony at the time.
The Felsenkirche is in an impeccable condition. It was given an A Class rating of 100 points by the NIA. The church is situated at the upper end of Kirch Weg in Lüderitz, and was proclaimed a National monument on 21 September 1978.
Station building, Lüderitz
Unlike the railway line Swakopmund and Windhoek, which was mainly built to solve transport problems after the rinderpest in 1897. the Lüderitz-Keetmanshoop line was mainly built to supply infrastructure to assist the suppression of the Nama rebellions that erupted in southern Namibia in 1904. Due to the long communication lines between Swakopmund and the interior, the German government decided to deliver their war materials directly to the front in the south via the harbour town of Lüderitz.
In December 1905, the German government announced that a railway line would be built from Lüderitz to Kubub. On 31 October 1907 the railway line reached Aus, from there it was gradually extended to Keetmanshoop. The building of the railway line caused Lüderitz to enter a new phase of development. Shipping increased, and cargo transport to the interior started to take place on a large scale. Various well-know trading operations started and the population of Lüderitz increased overnight.
In 1908, August Stauch, then in the service of the Deutsche Eisenbahnbau und Erhaltungs Gesellschaft (DEEG, “German Railway Line Construction and Maintenance Company”), was responsible for the discovery of the first diamonds on Namibian soil near Kolmanskop in the vicinity of Lüderitz. Several diamond fields mushroomed along the coast overnight and the riches at Lüderitz attracted worldwide interest. Adventurers rushed into the arid Namib Desert in an attempt to become rich overnight.
The fast growth of the population led to the sudden overburdening of the railway line’s capacity. Whereas, beforehand, only main cargo had been transported, now the railways had to convey passengers as well. The existing station building at Lüderitz was incapable of handling the unexpected accumulation of passengers and the sudden increase of freight.
In 1912 the German Imperial government granted permission for a new station building to be erected. The building contract was awarded to the construction company Albert Bause in Lüderitzbught, which completed the works in April 1914, shortly before the outbreak of WWI. It was the very last major building to be constructed by the German colonizers in the colony.
Although the station building features a number of embellishments like a crow’s nest, bull’s eyes and cartouche on the gable, the building displays a modern style in its combination of technology and building art. This element was indicative of the emergence of modern architecture in Germany at the time.
The station building, which was erected in Lüderitz’s heyday, still forms an attractive unit with the numerous other double-storeyed buildings in the town that date back to the colonial era, and contributes to the town’s continuing German atmosphere. The station building is still in use, and the structure – inclusive of its façade – is still in an entirely original state.
The building is situated on the corner of Bismarck and Bahnhof Street in Lüderitz, and received an A Class rating, awarded 100 points on the NIA Index. The Station Building was proclaimed a national monument on 13 December 1976.
Magistrate’s Residence, Lüderitz (Goerke House)
The discovery of diamonds in 1908 by August Stauch started a diamond rush, drawing prospectors and adventurers from all over the world. New diamond fields were discovered and opened up daily and the newly found riches were feverishly exploited. At the height of diamond fever between 1908 and 1910, the number of whites (mainly Europeans) in Lüderitz more than doubled from 839 to 1,757.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the presence of the nouveau riche was reflected in the architecture of Lüderitz. A number of luxurious villas sprung up, mostly double storeyed, which became known as diamond palaces. One of these was the so-called Goerke House, the villa of the mine inspector for a German diamond-mining company. The inspector, Hans Goerke, had the house built in 1909 and took up residence in 1910.
Although the building was erected in the art nouveau period (1890-1910), its architecture is not typical of this style. Nonetheless, the interior features a number of art nouveau ornaments, like the flamingos on the coloured window panes, the ornamentation on the wardrobe in the entrance hall, and the attempt to develop a new style by mixing existing styles. The house consists of two storeys, a tower room and a small cellar.
Its ceiling is decorated with impressionistic paintings. A wooden loggia separates the anteroom from the room from which all the other rooms are accessible. Apart from the hall and the arch, the spacious hall of a staircase joins the two storeys. The arches are supported by a pillar with a Dorian capital and swollen shaft, reminiscent of Egyptian pillars. The posts of the staircases are individual compositions and refer only distantly to historical examples. The coloured glass of the staircase shows a flamingo scene with the flowing lines typical of for art nouveau, popular in German architecture at the time. All the rooms were fitted with electrical light. The candlesticks are fanciful compositions with elements of classicism art nouveau, quite different from the modern functional lamps that could be found on the markets in Germany at the time.
The outside of the building shows stronger historicist features. The rocks of the foundation reach up into the outer walls. Every room protrudes outwards, and this feature renders remarkable habitable advantages. For example, the sitting room is extended by a console, the dining room by an alcove, and the bedrooms have balconies or alcoves. The sundial, and the gargoyle at the balcony of the main bedroom are Wilhelmian decorations hitherto unknown in German South West Africa.
Critics consider this building as “the best preserved and richest house of the period with remarkable interiors”. This probably refers to the buildings of Lüderitz only, but might as well apply to all similar buildings from the German colonial period elsewhere in the country.
The Magistrate’s Residence in Lüderitz is rated as an A Class building and scored 94 on NIA Index, and was proclaimed as a national monument on 26 September 1975.
The Magistrate’s Residence (Goerke House) in Luderitz belongs to the Namdeb Diamond Corporation. It can be viewed in Am Diamandberg street. Visiting hours: 14:00 till 16:00 (Mo-Fr) and 16:00 till 17:00 (Sa-Su). Entrance fee: N$ 17.00 per person.
Site of Original Dias Cross, Lüderitz
In 1488, while homeward bound from his pioneering voyage around the Cape of Good Hope into the Indian Ocean, Bartolomeu Dias sailed into the inlet presently known as Lüdertiz Bay. At the extreme western promontory of the bay he raised a padrāo, dedicating it to Sāo Tiago (St James).
Since the padrāo was erected on St James’s Day, being 25 July in the Christian calendar, the date of its erection can be fixed as 25 July 1488. The stone beacon remained undamaged except for the slow toll taken by the winds and surf of the Atlantic Ocean pounding against its limestone sides up to the early 19th century.
The padrāo was mentioned periodically in the records and diaries of visiting seafarers. Captain Thomas Bolden Thompson of HMS Nautilus and his officer, Lieutenant Popham, both described the padrāo as a navigational aid in their diaries in April 1786. It was also indicated on a map drawn up by Captain T Alexander of HMS Star in 1795. In 1821, Captain JW Roberts, while conducting a trigonometrical survey of Angra Pequena (as Lüderitz Bay was formerly called), also referred to the location of the padrāo on his detailed maps. During a survey carried out several years later by the crew of the HMS Espiégle between 13 and 15 March 1824, the padrāo received no mention. In 1925, officers of the HMW Barracouta found the padrāo uprooted and broken. Later seafarers pillaged fragments from the broken monument until 1855, when Captain Carew (a guano merchant) took the fragments he could find to the South African Museum in Cape Town. The larger fragments remained on site, undiscovered for almost 100 years.
In June 1953, archaeologist Dr Axel Erikson found several large fragments and numerous small chips from the original padrāo at Dias Point. For the occasion of the Dias quincentenary in 1988, the National Monuments Council’s Regional Committee for SWA instructed Mr Paul Petzold, a stonemason at Karibib, to draw up the necessary plans for a replica. Mr Petzold relied for his design upon the only existing detailed sketch of the cross when it was still standing: a sketch drawn by Captain Thomas Bolden Thompson, of HMS Nautilus, in 1786.
Paul Petzold was then commissioned to carve the replica of the padrāo from Namib dolerite. It was erected on the original site in 1988 and unveiled as part of the celebrations of the Dias quincentenary on 25 July 1988. The replica of the padrāo replaced a marble cross that had stood there on a cement pedestal before.
The Site of the Original Dias Cross, situated at Dias Point, Lüderitz, was declared a national monument of 12 January 1973.