Early settlementsInitial European contact with the areas which would become German South West Africa came from traders and sailors, starting in January 1486 when explorer , possibly accompanied by , landed at . However, for several centuries, European settlement would remain limited and temporary. In February 1805 the established a small mission in Blydeverwacht, but the efforts of this group met with little success. In 1840 the London Missionary Society transferred all of its activities to the German . Some of the first representatives of this organisation were Franz Heinrich Kleinschmidt (who arrived in October 1842) and (who arrived in December 1842). They began founding churches throughout the territory. The Rhenish missionaries had a significant impact initially on culture and dress, and then later on politics. During the same time that the Rhenish missionaries were active, merchants and farmers were establishing outposts.
Early historyOn 16 November 1882, a German merchant from , , requested protection for a station that he planned to build in South West Africa, from . Once this was granted, his employee Heinrich Vogelsang purchased land from a native chief and established a city at which was renamed . On 24 April 1884, he placed the area under the protection of to deter possible encroachment by other European powers. In early 1884, the visited to review the situation. A favourable report from the government, and from the British, resulted in a visit from the s and . The German flag was finally raised in South West Africa on 7 August 1884. The German claims on this land were confirmed during the . In October, the newly appointed for West Africa, , arrived on the . Chapter 4.1 Initial Period of German South West Africa (SWA): 1884-188
Rebellion against German rule and genocide of the Herero and NamaquaThrough 1893 and 1894, the first "Hottentot Uprising" of the Nama and their legendary leader Hendrik Witbooi occurred. The following years saw many further local uprisings against German rule. Before the of 1904–1907, the Herero and Nama had good reasons to distrust the Germans, culminating in the Khaua-Mbandjeru rebellion. This rebellion, in which the Germans tried to control the Khaua by seizing their property under cover of European legal views of property ownership (criticised at home for being no real reform of the notion of collective tribal ownership). This led to the largest of the rebellions, known as the Herero Wars (or Herero genocide) of 1904. Remote farms were attacked, and approximately 150 German settlers were killed. The '' '' of only 766 troops and native auxiliary forces was, at first, no match for the Herero. The Herero went on the offensive, sometimes surrounding and , and destroying the railway bridge to . Additional 14,000 troops, hastened from Germany under , crushed the rebellion in the . Earlier von Trotha issued an ultimatum to the Herero people, denying them the right of being German subjects and ordering them to leave the country, or be killed. To escape, the Herero retreated into the waterless region, a western arm of the , where many of them died of thirst. The German forces guarded every water source and were given orders to shoot any adult male Herero on sight. Only a few Herero managed to escape into neighbouring British Bechuanaland. The German official military report on the campaign lauded the tactics: In late 1904, the Nama entered the struggles against the colonial power under their leaders Hendrik Witbooi and Jakobus Morenga, the latter often referred to as "the black Napoleon", despite losing most of his battles. This uprising was finally quashed during 1907–1908. In total, between 25,000 and 100,000 Herero, more than 10,000 Nama and 1,749 Germans died in the conflict. After the official end of the conflict, the remaining natives, when finally released from detention, were subject to a policy of dispossession, deportation, forced labour, and racial segregation and discrimination in a system that in many ways anticipated apartheid. The genocide remains relevant to ethnic identity in independent Namibia and to relations with Germany. The neighbouring British objected to what they regarded as the inhumane German policy. This involved maintaining a number of concentration camps in the colony during their war against the Herero and Nama peoples. Besides these camps, the indigenous people were interned in other places. These included private businesses and government projects, ships offshore, ''Etappenkommando'' in charge of supplies of prisoners to companies, private persons, etc., as well as any other materials. Concentration camps implies poor sanitation and a population density that would imply disease. Prisoners were used as slave labourers in mines and railways, for use by the military or settlers. The Herero and Namaqua genocide has been recognised by the United Nations and by the Federal Republic of Germany. On the 100th anniversary of the camp's foundation, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Germany), German Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul commemorated the dead on-site and apologised for the camp on behalf of Germany.
First World WarDuring the First World War, South African troops opened hostilities with an assault on the Ramansdrift police station on 13 September 1914. German settlers were transported to concentration camps near Pretoria and later in Pietermaritzburg. Because of the overwhelming numerical superiority of the South African troops, the Schutztruppe, German Schutztruppe, along with groups of volunteers fighting in the Maritz Rebellion on the German side, offered opposition only as a delaying tactic. On 9 July 1915, Victor Franke, the last commander of the Schutztruppe, capitulated near Khorab. Two members of the Schutztruppe, geography professors Fritz Jaeger and Leo Waibel, are remembered for their explorations of the northern part of German South West Africa, which became the book ''Contributions to the Geography of South West Africa'' (Beiträge zur Landeskunde von Südwestafrika).
PostwarAfter the war, the territory came under the control of Britain and then was made a South African mandate. The colony developed peacefully under British rule. In 1990, the former colony became independent as , governed by the former liberation movement SWAPO.
German legacyMany German names, buildings, and businesses still exist in the country, and about 30,000 people of German descent still live there. German language in Namibia, German is still widely used in Namibia, with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation operating a German-language radio station and broadcasting television news bulletins in German, while the daily newspaper ''Allgemeine Zeitung (Namibia), Allgemeine Zeitung'', founded in 1916, remains in publication. Deukom, a satellite television service, offers television and radio channels from Germany.
German placenamesMost place names in German South West Africa continued to bear German spellings of the local names, as well as German translations of some local phrases. The few exceptions to the rule included places founded by the , generally biblical names, as well as: *Hoornkrans *Sandfontein *Stolzenfels *Waterberg (Otjiwarongo)
Planned symbols for German South West AfricaIn 1914 a series of drafts were made for proposed Coat of Arms and Flags for the German colonial empire, German Colonies. However, broke out before the designs were finished and implemented and the symbols were never actually taken into use. Following the defeat in the war, Germany lost all its colonies and the prepared coat of arms and flags were therefore never used.
See also*List of colonial governors of South West Africa *List of former German colonies *Postage stamps and postal history of German South West Africa *Germans of Namibia *German Kamerun *Togoland *German East Africa *German African Party
Further reading*Aydelotte, William Osgood. "The First German Colony and Its Diplomatic Consequences." ''Cambridge Historical Journal'' 5#3 (1937): 291-313