Lüderitz and Kolmanskop


“Lüderitz”, that doesn’t sound South African or Namibian. Correct. In May 1883, a Dr. Heinrich Vogelsang, emissary of the German merchant Adolf Lüderitz, “bought” 5 miles of land around Lüderitz Bay from the Nama chief Joseph Fredericks. The deal went down in history as a “mileage scam”. Vogelsang did not clearly declare the mileage. While Fredericks assumed the measure of the English mile, Vogelsang insisted on the German mile, which is about 4.7 times longer than the English mile, making the ceded territory almost five times larger than Frederick had assumed. The purchase price was 200 rifles and 2000 marks in kind. More land was bought later. Lüderitz thought that if he bought the land, he could virtually build a new state on it. Of course, the local Nama saw it differently, for them it was something like a lease.

As the English laid claim to the offshore islets, Lüderitz had his possessions protected by the German Emperor. This is how the German colony of “South West Africa” gradually came into being, which in turn became today’s Namibia.

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Many street names are reminiscent of the time of German South-West Africa. In Lüderitz there is still a small group of Germans or Namibian-Germans who still speak German in addition to English and Afrikaans.

The striking “rock church” still belongs to the Lutheran community in Namibia.

Many buildings from the Wilhelminian era are still preserved. A special ambience. The charm of Lüderitz was not immediately apparent to us, but only at second glance.

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In Lüderitz, we spend five days at the Shark Island Restcamp, a campsite located on the peninsula off the coast. While it is very windy in Lüderitz and the surrounding area in the summer months, Shark Island is almost stormy. A good opportunity to sit inside and work on the website.

At the Shark Island Rest Camp we meet

Peter and Gabi

and we spend a few interesting hours together, not yet knowing that this encounter will lead to many more.


We set off early in the morning to photograph the ghost town of Kolmanskop – Kolmanskuppe. The interior shots are all taken with a tripod and using HDR technology. HDR – High Dynamic Range – means that, in our case, three identical shots are taken of the same subject. The exposures are each varied by 2 light values upwards and downwards. This gives the images a higher dynamic range. The three shots per subject are then added together on the computer using special software. We use Photomatix Pro.

Kolmanskop is situated about 10 km east of Lüderitz. In 1908 Kolmanskop was only a mini-station on the Lüderitz Railway, which was still under construction. In the same year, a railroad worker discovered a glittering stone, which he brought to railroad foreman August Stauch – a diamond had been found! Stauch and his friend Nissen secured 75 km2 of land and founded the mining town of Kolmanskop, which quickly mutated into the richest town in Africa. From 1911 there was electricity, a casino, school, hospital and much more.

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and the loss of the German colonies, the German era of diamond mining came to an end.

Main building

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A modern hospital – it had the first X-ray machine in southern Africa.

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Tour of Kolmanskop

We see traces of animals everywhere in the buildings and are particularly careful not to get close to any of the snakes that live here.

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House of the mine manager

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Accountants and architects house

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Last but not least

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