Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck

Name ID 1221

See also

Herne, Brian White Hunters: The golden age of African Safaris
Page Number: 044b
Extract Date: 1910-11

Third safari

Painter returned on his third safari in 1910-1911, but this time he brought his young bride, petite New Yorker Maud (nee Wyeth). At Nairobi, Roosevelt's safari, which had been headed by R. J. Cunninghame, had just returned from Sudan, and the Painters purchased much of Roosevelt's outfit. Teddy, who was a personal friend, had given Painter his leather writing case fitted with glass shades and candles, and even a pair of his massive knee-high safari boots, which tipped the scales at a staggering 4 pounds 11 ounces each. Kenyon and Maud's honeymoon safari was led by unknown Arusha white hunters named Twigg and Smith.

(One of the Smith brothers was killed in action by General Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck's Schutztruppe at the Battle of Longido Hill in 1915. Hamilton Twigg died of blackwater fever at Kondo Irangi 1916 during the British advance on von Lettow's positions.)

Extract ID: 3805

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 07a
Extract Date: 1914

World War I

At the outbreak of World War I, the German troops were outnumbered by the British but it took the whole war period to defeat the valiant German Commander Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck - creator of the famed askari battalions - who started the hostilities by attacking Taveta in August 1914. German troops kept the initiative for a long time but they were unable to resist the constantly improving fighting ability of the Allied Forces.

In 1916 General Smuts with British, Indian and South African forces occupied the northern border, Belgian troops commanded by Colonel Tombeur reached Tabora from the west, and with a force crossing the Kagera from Uganda, the Allied troops prepared for the final assault; in November 1917 German troops were thrown behind the Ruvuma and found themselves totally defeated in November 1918. Lettow-Vorbeck had outwitted the Allied troops for 4 years with such brilliant tactics that, together with his officers, he was allowed to surrender in honourable conditions.

Tanganyika had again had to suffer the consequences of the war. Vast areas were turned into wasteland and economic life broke down once again with thousands of African troops having succumbed to famine, malaria and other diseases.

Extract ID: 4029

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: By a correspondent
Page Number: 313
Extract Date: 25 March 2004

How Tanga survived the "Ice Cream War"

Two prominent families of Asian origin have their roots in Tanga. The Karimjee Jivanjee family settled in Tanga in 1830 while that of Khanbhai has a history in that coastal town that dates back to 1836. After many years of neglect, what makes Tanga tick today is only its history.

Tanga is the most important Tanzania port after Dar, and lies just south of the Kenyan border. Like Bagamoyo, it has an air of fading decadence about it and would not feature in any travel guide were it not for the superb beaches which sprawl to the south of the town, and the vibrant night life that transforms the town after dark. It was here that a German expeditionary force led by Colonel von Lettow-Vorbeck defeated a joint British and Indian landing force in 1914, aided and abetted by millions of angry bees whose hives had been destroyed by gunfire.

The tragic though comical consequences of that battle shaped the opening chapter of William Boyd's contemporary novel, "An Ice Cream War". About a thousand years ago persons migrated to Tanga and gave it its name, which in Persian has four meanings: straight, green valley, road beside mountain, farm on mountain or rolling hill.

In 1857 Richard Burton, the explorer, visited Tanga and described it as a patch of thatched pent roofed huts, built upon a bank overlooking the sea".

He estimated the population to be 4,000 to 5,000, which included fifteen Baluchis and twenty Indian merchants. The town was under the rule of The Sultan of Zanzibar. At that time Tanga was trading post dealing mainly in ivory. The annual trade in ivory was about 70,000 lbs. Tanga was a small outlying settlement compared to its more prosperous neighbour, Pangani.

With the coming of the Germans to East Africa in the last quarter of 19th century, the port of Tanga probably offered less resistance to The Germans compared to, for example, Pangani, which was more heavily fortified. The Germans took control of the coastal area from the Sultan of Zanzibar in April 1891 calling their colony Tanganyika. In the same year, Tanga was designated a township.

From then on, large scale developments, pushed by private German commercial interests took place. A wharf with a railway line to the interior was developed, construction of the Railway line started in 1896. The line reached Korogwe in 1902; Mombo in 1904 magnificent Cliff block hospital was built in 1902.

The Usambara Mountains were opened up as reliable roads and bridges were built which are still in use today. Rail line was also planned to go to Lushoto and beyond. A short line was built at Shume; parts of it still exist today. The Tanga town centre was also properly planned and developed. Most of the commercial cum residential buildings in use today are from that German period of 1891 to 1914.

Sisal, a plant that looks like yucca, was introduced into Tanganyika by the Germans in 1893. Sisal produces the longest and strongest natural plant fibres, hence the longest and strongest ropes, everything from the largest ropes to tie battle ships to docks to twine for boxes. Sisal was so lucrative with no competitors that it was then called the "white gold of Tanganyika".

Tanga became the largest producer and exporter of Sisal in the world. In 1913, Tanga exported 20,800 tons of Sisal fibre from its port. In 1914, during World War One, an historic battle between the German and the invading British forces was fought in Tanga. The battle is vividly described in the book "Ice Cream War" by William Boyd. The British forces suffered a serious defeat. However, two years later, the British finally pushed the Germans out. There are three graveyards in town exclusively dedicated to the fallen soldiers from those battles.

The British ruled Tanga (and Tanganyika) till independence in 1961.

The Sisal industry reached its peak during this period exporting 200,000 tons in 1958; thereafter nationalization, mismanagement and the rise of synthetics to replace natural fibres destroyed the Sisal, which today is about 8 per cent of 1958. The rise of the Sisal industry in Tanga brought in migrant labourers from throughout the country and the neighbouring countries. Many of these labourers have stayed on. This has given Tanga a truly African cosmopolitan population, with almost all tribes of Tanzania having a considerable presence in Tanga. The indigenous tribe living around the town is the Digo.

They are mainly Moslems, who live on or near the coast. Fishing and subsistence agriculture is the main socio-economic activity. Tanga is renowned for its powerful presence in the Kiswahili literature scene. It has produced some literacy giants and is in the forefront of pushing the language to new heights. For instance, the legendary Shaaban Robert, an author and poet of many authoritative works, was a Tanga resident and is buried a short distance from the town.

Tanga is today the fourth largest town in Tanzania and the second largest port.

Extract ID: 4706

external link

See also

The South African Military History Society Newsletter
Extract Date: 1916

The King's Shilling - 1916- East Africa

Mr. Cowley was thanked by Flip for an informative and interesting lecture and the next speaker was then introduced. This was Mr. Hamilton Wende, a free-lance writer and TV presenter for the SABC, BBC and National Geographic. The subject of his lecture was "The King's Shilling - 1916- East Africa".

While working on a shoot in East Africa, Mr Wende's interest in the campaign in East Africa during World War Ihad been piqued by local oral histories and tales handed down by that campaign. A chance remark about South Africans"running away" at the Battle of Salaita resulted in him then researching this battle and ultimately writing a novel with the battle as it's theme. During the German East African Campaign in World War I, the German Commander,General von Lettow-Vorbeck, led the British a merry dance the length and breadth of German East Africa and successfully tied up large numbers of British and Empire troops. The campaign gave rise to a high death toll in terms of disease and starvation among both the troops and the local population, but not in terms of battle casualties. At Salaita, for instance, the toll was about 200 killed in action.

The South African troops taking part were raw and inexperienced and were under the control of officers and

NCOs who, in some cases, had fought on opposite sides in the Boer War only a decade previously. These troops were engaged in following up the enemy and were stopped on 11 February 1916 at Salaita Hill, a surprisingly smallhill but which was well fortified. The General in charge decided, against the advice of his staff, to launch the 5th, 6th and 7th Transvaal Regiments against this hill in a frontal attack supported by the Baluchi Regiment. So confident of success was he that he even laid on a champagne breakfast for himself in celebration of his expected victory. The South African and Indian troops advanced en masse against the hill and were promptly subjected to a massive defensive effort by artillery and machine gun fire. Although supported by two armoured cars, these provedineffectual and withdrew when they ran out of ammunition. The German forces, in the main Black Askaris, thenlaunched a bayonet counter attack and the South African troops broke and ran in panic, leaving their machine guns behind. The Baluchies, who were a more battle hardened regiment and had seen service on the Western Front and Indian Frontier, rallied and repelled the charge, in the process recovering the South African machine guns which they derisively delivered to the South African camp that evening.

This was the largest defeat of white British troops by Blacks since Isandlwana and, as such, was promptly covered up by the British and South African authorities. War histories play down the event and when questions were asked in the South African House of Parliament they were politely fielded and ignored.

Using a Power Point presentation, Hamilton then showed his audience the battlefield as it is today, with the trenches, rock machine gun sangars and even a sniper's nest in a hollowed out baobab tree. The battle and its aftermathproved the inspiration for a book thatMr. Wende decided to write and which he has entitled "The King's Shilling". Hamilton told us about the research he had done and particularly the fact that 33 British soldiers were unaccounted for after the battle. Had they kept running? This made him think of the meaning of courage in a battlefield scenario and gave rise to the theme of his book, which is defeat and how to overcome it, a theme still relevant today.

Mr. Wende was thanked by John Parkinson for a most interesting and well-presented lecture and who also presented him with a Society tie as a token of its thanks. Flip then adjourned the meeting for tea.

Extract ID: 5218

See also

Samler Brown , A and Gordon Brown, G (Editors) South and East African Year Book and Guide for 1920, 26th issue
Page Number: 520-521E e
Extract Date: 1917

History of East Africa : The War with Germany in East Africa 1917

1917. - General Smuts relinquished his command on January 20th, and was succeeded by Lieut.-General A.R. Hoskins, C.M.G., D.S.O. in may, Major-General J.L. van Deventer, C.B., was appointed to the command.

The fighting throughout 1917-18 had emphasized the difficulties which were so evident in the final stages of the second Boer war, those of rounding up a mobile enemy, with no civil population to defend and provide for, whose main object is to avoid decisive fighting, and who is favoured by a great extent of broken and roadless country in which to manoeuvre.

The British forces advanced early in January and many desultory engagements ensued, in one of which, at Behobeho, the gallant Captain F.C. Selous, D.S.O., was killed (January 4th), but no considerable body of the enemy was definitely disposed of. Later in the year the German forces broke up into small parties, and apparently living on the country, dispersed over a wide area. Some columns of the enemy, which succeeded in slipping through our positions, endeavoured to re-kindle the war in the north, these were rounded up by Belgian troops, brought back from the Congo Free State, who captured their commander on may 22nd, and drove the remnant of the forces back into the British, to whom they surrendered in October.

In June the enemy were officially reported (1) near Kilwa; (2) west of Lindi; (3) in the Mahenge district; (4) at Songwa, 60 miles north of the Portuguese border; (5) in the neighbourhood of the southern border of British East Africa; (6) in the Luchulingo Valley within Portuguese territory; and the war resolved itself into innumerable attempts to surround those elusive forces by means of mobile columns, hampered by every difficulty of terrain, climate and transport. Of the above forces the main body (1) and (2) under von Lettow Vorbeck, with the pick of the German troops, was 4,000 to 5,000 strong. No.3, under Tafel, comprised 2,000 to 3,000 rifles; No.5, under Naumann, consisted of 600 men; and No.6, under von Stuermer, was rather weaker.

Increasing pressure was maintained as the war advanced from all sides; at the end of September, half of the German forces were reported behind the parts of Lindi and Kilwa, they were attacked from the north and dispersed southward in small parties. Another important body still held the Mahenge plateau, previously mentioned, but the town of this name was captured by a Belgian force on October 9th, after severe fighting in the Kalimoto Hills and elsewhere. In the same month the Rhodesian column, under General Northey, pushed the Germans from their administrative centre at Liwale.

The cumulative effect of the harrying without rest to which the German forces had been subjected for many months was becoming apparent. The Mahenge plateau was cleared of the enemy, and captures and surrenders greatly depleted the attenuated forces still holding the field.

Early in December the remnants of the German forces, evacuated their colony by crossing the Rovuma River into Portuguese territory. They numbered 320 whites and 2,500 black troops, with a considerable reserve of trained native porters of good fighting stock, many of whom were, from time to time, drafted into the fighting line. Tafel, unaware of this movement, when driven from Mahenge and on his way to join forces with Vorbeck, was rounded up and capitulated (Nov. 28), there was no longer organized resistance within the limits of the colony. In the last six months of 1917, 1,618 Germans and 5,482 Askaris had been killed or captured.

Extract ID: 3533

See also

Samler Brown , A and Gordon Brown, G (Editors) South and East African Year Book and Guide for 1920, 26th issue
Page Number: 520-521E f
Extract Date: 1918

History of East Africa : The War with Germany in East Africa 1918

1918. - Desultory fighting between the diminishing German forces and the pursuing columns continued in Portuguese territory, the former being steadily shepherded southward, but successfully avoiding a final round up. In July, their main body, reduced to about 250 Germans and 1,300 Askari were located some 25 miles from Quilimane and nearly 500 miles south of the Rovuma River. At this time the pursuing forces consisted mainly of native levies. In August the main force was reported near Chalana, 60 miles west of Angoche, after abandoning a hospital containing 300 sick and wounded at Namirrue. Under pressure from the pursuing columns the Germans turned northward, recrossed the Rovuma River after a trek of over 1,000 miles, and were presumed to be heading for Tabora.

Rapid dispositions were made to check the advance northward, to avoid which the German Commander turned south into Northern Rhodesia. This was at the beginning of November, and a few days later the armistice put an end to further hostilities.

The fate of the remnant of the German force was provided for by the XVIIth clause of the Armistice conditions, which stipulated for their unconditional evacuation within one month. von Lettow-Vorbeck surrendered at Abercorn, in the extreme north of N.E. Rhodesia; his force consisted of 30 officers, 125 other Europeans, 1,165 Askaris, 2,294 native carriers, etc., and 819 native women.

The last shot is said to have been fired on the Chambesi River on November 13th, and the surrender took place a few days later.

The cost of the campaign among the British and their Native Allies (exclusive of that incurred by the Belgians) up to March 31st, 1919, was approximately L 72,000,000.

General van Deventer, in his final despatch, says : "The Germans rewarded their black troops by giving them a free hand in respect of loot and the treatment of women; but it nevertheless says much for the character of the German commander that he was able to keep these men with him through four years of most strenuous campaigning. There were occasions when atrocities were committed on our wounded, and the treatment of our prisoners - especially the Indians - was at times infamous; but the Germans themselves, with rare exceptions, tried to stop the former, while the latter was the work of men far behind the firing-line, most of whom have already been punished; and though it is impossible entirely to exonerate the Higher German Command with regard to these matters, it must in justice be said that the actual fighting of the East African Campaign was, on the whole, clean - and sometimes even chivalrous".

Lieut. E.W. Bovill (in The Journal R.G.S., Oct. 1917), refers to the total disregard by the Germans of the barest needs of the native population in their wholesale seizure of every vestige of foodstuff throughout the country left to them. "Those of the unfortunate people who were of any military value were commandeered at an early date. The able-bodied men were impressed as soldiers, but more generally as porters, while the younger women were distributed among the askari. But what of the old men, the old women, and the young children ? There was a desolate village and starvation."

Extract ID: 3534

See also

Samler Brown , A and Gordon Brown, G (Editors) South and East African Year Book and Guide for 1920, 26th issue
Page Number: 520-521E a

History of East Africa : The War with Germany in East Africa

At the outbreak of war the German authorities May have regarded the position of their premier Colony with considerable equanimity although it must inevitably be cut off from outside communication; for it had been organized against any attack that could be made without those extensive preparations for which, according to the German war programme, the essential factor of time would be lacking. Indeed for the first year of hostilities the Germans were strong enough to carry the war into their neighbours' territories and repeatedly attacked the railway and other points in British East Africa.

The forces at the disposal of the German Command May never be accurately known. Lieutenant-General Smuts at one time estimated them at 2,000 Germans and 16,000 Askaris, with 60 guns and 80 machine guns, but this should prove to be below the mark. The white adult male population in 1913 numbered over 3,500 (exclusive of garrison), a large proportion of these would be available for military duties. The native population of over 7,000,000, comprising practically all the warlike races of Central Africa, formed a reservoir of man-power from which a force might be drawn limited only by the supply of officers and equipment. There is no reason to doubt that the Germans made the best of this material during the long interval of nearly eighteen months which separated the outbreak of war from the invasion in force of their territory (+).

In his final despatch of May, 1919, General van Deventer places the German forces, at the commencement of 1916, at 2,700 whites and 12,000 blacks. Lord Cranford, in his foreword to Captain Angus Buchanan's book on the war, writes - "At his strongest von Lettow probably mustered 25,000 to 30,000 rifles, all fighting troops", with 70 machine guns and 40 guns. After eighteen months of continuous fighting General van Deventer estimated the enemy's forces at 8,000 to 9,000 men (*).

Another point bearing on the war and duly emphasized by General Smuts in his lecture before the Royal Geographic Society (Jan., 1918), was the extraordinary strength of the German frontier. The coast line offered few suitable points for landing and was backed by an unhealthy swamp belt. On the west the line of lakes and mountains proved so impenetrable that the Belgian forces from the Congo had, in the first instance, to be moved through Uganda. On the south the Rovuma River was only fordable on its upper reaches. And the northern frontier was the most difficult of all. Only one practicable pass about five miles wide offered between the Pare Mountains and Kilimanjaro, and here the German forces, amid swamps and forests, had been digging themselves in for eighteen months.

(+) The Hon. H. Burton, speaking in London, Aug., 1918, said : "Nothing struck our commanders in the East African field so much as the thorough, methodical and determined training of the German native levies previous to the war".

(*) The force which evacuated the Colony in Dec., 1917, was estimated at the time at 320 white and 2,500 black troops; 1,618 Germans were killed or captured in the last six months of 1917, 155 whites and 1,168 Askaris surrendered at the close of hostilities.

Extract ID: 3489

See also

1920 Publishes: von Lettow-Vorbeck, Paul My Reminiscences of East Africa

Extract ID: 3257

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 331
Extract Date: 1929

Anniversary dinner of the BEAEF

Certainly his own life had witnessed more than its share of changes since his triumphal return to Germany thirty-four years earlier. Almost inevitably, that life had been an anticlimax, although not without its moments. For a brief time he had commanded a Reichswehr division-appropriately named for him-and helped suppress a Communist uprising in Hamburg, but this was the last military action of his career. In 1920 he resigned from the army and entered politics, serving for ten years as a deputy in the Reichstag. He also wrote several books, and his personal memoirs of the East African campaign may have found as many readers in England as in Germany.

For von Lettow was anything but forgotten by his onetime foes. In London in 1929, he was the guest of honor, seated next to Smuts, at an anniversary dinner of the British East African Expeditionary Force.

Extract ID: 4399

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 331b
Extract Date: 1930's

ambassador to England!

In 1930, as Nazis began emerging from the woodwork, a disillusioned von Lettow resigned his Reichstag seat. Five years later, he was given the opportunity to re-enter public life when Hitler offered to make him ambassador to England. The suggestion, interestingly, had come from von Lettow's friend, retired Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, during a visit to Berlin to meet with Hitler on behalf of German Jews. Meinertzhagen reported that Hitler enthusiastically endorsed the first idea and went into a volcanic tantrum over the second. Von Lettow was no less affronted by Hitler's overture, and declined with frigid hauteur.*

After that (possibly even before that) he was on the Nazi blacklist, and although Hitler was not quite up to doing away with the one man who had consistently humiliated Germany's enemies in the First World War, he could see to it that von Lettow was subjected to every possible indignity short of a concentration camp. He was kept under continual surveillance. SA troops sacked his office. No opportunity was lost to slander him. It did not matter that both of his sons were killed in action with the German army in the Second World War.

* During a conversation not long ago with the grand-nephew of a German marine who had fought in the East African campaign, the author brought up the subject of the spurned ambassadorship, remarking: "I understand that von Lettow told Hitler to go fuck himself." "That's right," was the reply, "except that I don't think he put it that politely."

Extract ID: 4400

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 331c
Extract Date: 1950's


When peace came, the seventy-five-year-old General was destitute, subsisting for a time on the food parcels sent to him by Meinertzhagen and Smuts. With Germany's postwar recovery, however, he presently came to enjoy comfortable circumstances again. And even in his ostensibly declining years, his mind remained as alert as it had been on the day when he ordered the 13th Field Company to counterattack at Tanga.

Extract ID: 4401

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 330
Extract Date: 1953

Haya Safari.

ON A SPARKLING blue-gold-green tropical morning in 1953, the Union Castle liner Rhodesia Castle steamed into the harbor of Dar es Salaam on her regular run between Europe and Capetown. Among the passengers on the upper deck was von Lettow. He was paying his first visit to the old battleground in nearly four decades, and he saw at once that the torpidly busy East African seaport had undergone little outward change in his long absence. Apart from a few new steamer berths and commercial buildings- and, of course, the Union Jacks which flew from rooftops in the capital of the British territory of Tanganyika-the place looked much the same. The coco palms and casuarinas on the shorefront seemed never to have stopped their contented sighing in the Indian Ocean breezes. The tiny, lateen-rigged coastal dhows called jahazis, with their ancient cargoes of mangrove poles and simsim, came and went as they always had, lurching with awkward grace over the harbor's short chop. One of the first things that caught von Lettow's eye was the spire of the Lutheran Church that his countrymen had built when the colony was still theirs. And he probably smiled to himself when Rhodesia Castle changed course in the channel to avoid the wreckage of a sunken floating dock; a German naval officer under his command had scuttled that dock to discourage Admiral King-Hall's cruisers at the start of the East African campaign. It was almost as if a time machine had carried von Lettow back to 1914.

But he was not likely to be deluded by surface appearances. Once a German and now a British colonial capital, Dar es Salaam would soon be neither. The Second World War had left in its wake a ferment of nationalism that bubbled with angry vigor in all the hot countries of the world that were still ruled by white men from harsher climates. Britain had already handed over India. The Dutch had been ousted unceremoniously from their Indonesian islands. France was about to get the same treatment in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And Africa had to be next. Harold Macmillan had not yet coined the expression "the wind of change," but the wind was blowing. Like any thinking man of the 1950s, von Lettow could hardly have failed to feel it.

Extract ID: 4398

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 332a
Extract Date: 1953

Return to Dar es Salaam

If anything, those mental facilities had become even more acute when, at the age of eighty-three, von Lettow stepped nimbly down Rhodesia Castle's gangway to board the lighter that would bring him ashore at Dar es Salaam. Noting a sizable crowd of Africans on the dock-many as old as he, some older-he asked one man whether any of them might have served with the Schutztruppe. Broad grins broke out at once, and the names of long-forgotten field companies and obscure battles were croaked back and forth among the venerable blacks. But why did this old Mzungu want to know? One great-grandfather, stooping but dignified in his nightshirt-like kanzu, turned to von Lettow and asked: "Na weave, Bwana? Ni jina lako?" -and who might you be, sir? "Pumbavu!" roared von Lettow. Idiot! Don't you recognize your old colonel? Whereupon the graybeard fell to his knees and clasped von Lettow around the legs. Tanganyika's deputy governor had just arrived at the dock to escort von Lettow to a reception at Government House, but no one paid any attention to the white official as the swarm of doddering ex-askaris hoisted their commander to their bony shoulders and carried him off.

In due course he kept his appointment at Government House, whose stately Arab style archways seemed no less graceful to him than they had when the place was called the Governor's Palace and was occupied by Schnee. Another kind of memory returned shortly afterwards when he stood in the reviewing stand at Colito Barracks and took the salute of the 6th KAR Regiment. As the askari companies passed by in stiff, well-tailored khaki ranks, the band struck up the regimental march. Von Lettow recognized the music at once. He should have. The lyrics, of course, had been changed, but there was no mistaking the jaunty upbeat lilt of "Haya Safari."

Extract ID: 4402

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 332b
Extract Date: 1958


The last decade of von Lettow's life witnessed few if any signs of senility. Visitors to his home in Hamburg-Altona inevitably remarked on the general's bright eye, his steel-trap mind, his crystal-clear recollection of the old campaigns and all their details. He even enjoyed a half-joking flirtation by mail with an elderly Danish baroness whom he had met in 1913 when both were passengers on the same ship for Africa-he bound for the German colony, she for the British. Von Lettow had given the young woman an autographed picture of himself. When the war broke out and she took four ox-wagons to the border with supplies and ammunition for the East Africa Mounted Rifles (no white men were available for the mission), she also carried the photograph as insurance-should she be captured by a Schutztruppe patrol. In 1958, the author Isak Dinesen visited von Lettow and told him of the trek she had made to the border. She also said that she regretted not having kissed him when she left the ship at Mombasa, and that, with his wife's permission, she would do so now. Two years later, on von Lettow's 90th birthday, she sent him flowers and wrote that another kiss was enclosed. Von Lettow replied that she would have to deliver the next one personally.

Extract ID: 4403

See also

Miller, Charles Battle for the Bundu: The First World War in East Africa
Page Number: 332c
Extract Date: 1964

Mimi ni askari Mdaichi.

He faded away in 1964. Anyone fancying symbolism can read something into that year. It was not only half a century since von Lettow had arrived in Dar es Salaam to take command of the Schutztruppe; 1964 was also the year in which his askaris finally got their back pay. The funds had been voted by the Bundestag in Bonn, but payment was made, fittingly, through the African government of Tanzania. By no means all of the claimants were still alive, but at least three hundred old men gathered at the Lake Victoria port of Mwanza, where a temporary cashier's office had been opened in a commercial building.

Then a problem of identification arose. Some of the men wore tattered scraps of Schutztruppe tunics, torn uniform trousers or frayed kepis. Several showed what they said were battle scars; one man lowered his shorts to reveal a long-healed wound on his left buttock. But only a small handful could produce the faded certificates that von Lettow had given them in 1918. Might not the others be masquerading as veterans?

The German banker who had brought the money came up with an idea. As each claimant stepped forward, he was handed a broom and ordered in German to perform the manual of arms. Other German commands were barked out: Attention ... About turn ... March ... Present arms . . . Halt ... Slope arms ... Not one man failed the test.

The few who are left today have probably forgotten those alien words. But it has not yet become entirely beyond the realm of possibility for a visitor to Tanzania, should he happen to ask some village elder about himself, to hear the reply: "Mimi ni askari Mdaichi." I am a German soldier.

Extract ID: 4404

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Robert Lindsay
Page Number: 2007 09 01

Margarethe Trappe and Indiana Jones

Are you aware that Margarethe Trappe appears in an episode of George Lucas's TV series, 'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.'

The series chronicles the adventures of young Indiana Jones (played by Sean Patrick Flanery) before, during, and after World War I.

In the episode, 'Young Indiana Jones and the Phantom Train of Doom,' young Indy is a soldier in British East Africa. He joins the 25th Royal Fusiliers, a real life regiment that was made up of English, American, Scottish, Russian, and South African soldiers, most of whom were too old to fight in the regular army.

Indy joins a group of elderly Fusiliers headed by real-life big game hunter, Captain Frederick Selous (Paul Freeman). In the two-part episode, the Fusiliers have two missions behind German lines in East Africa.

In the first mission, Indy and the Fusiliers must destroy a huge German rail gun that has been inflicting heavy casualties on the British forces in Africa. After locating the train in a hidden underground fortress, Indy and the Fusilers succeed at destroying the gun.

In the second mission, Indy and the Fusiliers try to kidnap the famous German Lt. Col. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who commanded Germany's small African force during World War I. On the way to the Colonel's camp, Indy and the Fusiliers encounter young Margarethe Trappe (played by actress Lynsey Baxter).

Unfortunately, Margarethe is serving as a courier and reconnaisance pilot for the Germans. When Indy and the Fusiliers invade the German camp, it is Margarethe who alerts the German soldiers to their presence.

Indy attempts to kidnap von Lettow-Vorbeck using a hot air balloon. However, Margarethe follows in her bi-plane and shoots down the balloon. When the balloon lands, there is a gunpoint standoff between Indy and Margarethe over the Colonel. With the German army approaching, Indy is forced to give up the Colonel and flee. Margarethe takes the von Lettow-Vorbeck in her plane and escapes with him.

The story is probably heavily fictionalized. (Was Margarethe Trappe a pilot in real-life?) But it shows how much research George Lucas puts into his work, to include these historical characters.

'The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles' will be released on Region 1 and Region 2 DVD later this fall. I know 'The Phantom Train of Doom' is available on VHS video. I don't know about PAL video.

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