R. Schubert - Photographer
No. 3 W. Potsdamerstrasse, Berlin, Germany
Germany, like all major powers in the late 19th Century joined in the scramble for overseas colonies albeit rather lately when
compared to the old hands at empire building like Britain and France.
The imperial pickings had grown rather thin by the time this photograph was taken and Germany had only managed to acquire
areas a Southwest and East Africa, a few concessions in China and some remote Pacific islands. This remarkable uniformed
solider was a volunteer for service in Deutsch Südwest Afrika or German Southwest Africa. These troops were known
singularly as schutztruppe and schutztruppen in the plural. Schutztruppen can be literally translated into “Protection Troops”.
This photograph bears the caption “Auf Wiedersehn!” and is typical of the images taken of these volunteers just prior to their
departure to Southwest Africa with this specific example dating from the 1904-07 time period. This coincides with the rebellion
of the Herero people against their German overlords which was suppressed with great brutality by Lieutenant-General Lothar
Wearing the Shutztruppe’s characteristic gray 1896 pattern Kord Waffenrock uniform which was piped and trimmed in blue.
On his head he wears a gray felt Südwester hat with it distinctive upturned right hand brim which was held in place by a large
cockade bearing the Imperial German colors of red, white and black. Since all schutztruppen acted as mounted infantry his
boots are outfitted with spurs. Held at the ready is his Mauser Infanteriegewehr 98 rifle, an outstanding weapon versions of
which had been used to great effect by the Boers against the British during the recently end Anglo-Boer War and by the
Spanish against the United States during the Spanish-American War of 1898. His ammunition pouches are leather and of the
pattern common with troops deployed as reinforcements to Southwest Africa in 1904.
The painted backdrops depicts a rather romanticized view of Southwest Africa and shows what appears to be Herero warriors
at left beginning an attack on a German encampment. The painted stone bears the name of the colonial capital of Veste
Windhoek. The numbered card to the right of the soldier was probably a reference for the photographer which allowed him to
match the photograph to a specific client.