Saturday, September 20, 2014

After Uitkomst (The Battle of Uitkomst Part XI)

For the price of one man killed and four others wounded out of Oberleutant Richard Volkmann's small force at Uitkomst, the Herero were deprived of several important leaders along with at least 23 fighters killed and an untold number of others injured.  Mbatona of Osendema was dead, and so was Kamaihamagoani of Waterberg.  An unidentified war commander who wore a large white ostrich feather in his hat also lay dead, and if as J Conrad Rust and Paul Rohrbach state he had been dispatched by Samuel Maharero from Okahandja to coordinate the fighting in the North, this was an especially hard blow.

The German Generalstab history says that the surviving Hereros who had fought with Mbatona went south to the Waterburg and no longer troubled the district, but the District was hardly pacified.  At the same time that Volkmann fought at Uitkomst, the small military post at Otjituuo to the East of Grootfontein on the Omuramba Omatako was attacked and overrun by a force said to have been just as large as Mbatona's and all but one of its four defenders were slain.  Two more German farmers to the North of Grootfontein were killed.  Later in the month, the fort at Namutoni (Amutoni) was attacked by an estimated 500 Ovambos from Ndonga under Chief Nehale lya Mpingana's war leader Shivute (Shute), the only incident in which the Ovambo actively participated in the war.

It took several weeks for things to settle down, but small raids on isolated farms continued to be a problem and Volkmann's responsibilities as District commander kept him occupied with patrols and police work and at least one more skirmish while the crisis continued to escalate to the South in the heart of Hereroland.  His  courage and leadership in a backwater of the conflict did not capture the attention of the public, and while he did command one of the six detachments under General von Trotha during the Waterberg campaign, this was the result of his being senior to Oberleutnant von Z├╝low who had been sent to reenforce the Grootfontein district that June with the 3rd Feldkompagnie, a half battery of field guns and a marine section with two machine guns.

Volkmann had just four officers in his 200 man Abteilung at Waterberg, and was responsible for
keeping the Hereros from breaking out to the North.  Under his direction, Lieutenant Auer mounted a
heliograph unit on the summit of the Plateau overlooking the batteground, which enabled the separate German sections to communicate more effectively.  He was part of the pursuit of the Herero into the Omaheke, coordinating with Maj. von Estorff's section.  He subsequently served in the south against the Nama, having been promoted to Hauptmann, and was instrumental in capturing the Bethanie leader Cornelius Fredericks for which he received the thanks of the Kaiser.

While his distinguished service and accomplishments were worthy of high recognition, his military decorations were modest.  He received the Order of the Red Eagle with swords, IV class, which granted the lowest level of nobility, and the Order of the Prussian Crown III and IV Class with swords, while contemporaries like Viktor Franke who exhibited similar traits of personal courage and intrepidity received far greater honors.  It is unclear whether Volkmann felt slighted in his service after returning to Germany in 1905, but he served honorably during the First World War, commanding in Bucharest in 1916, and received the Iron Cross I and II class.

Paul Rohrbach remained close friends with Volkmann and served for several months as a war volunteer.  In addition to providing the only firsthand accounts that are available for thre Bsttle of Uitkomst, he was made responsible for claims for compensation from the German government for war damage and losses suffered by settlers in Southwest Africa.

Landwehrman Wilhelm Halberstadt established two farms in Grootfontein beginning in 1905 and his descendants live there still.   There was a German farm at Osondema, too, where Mbatona's people had been dispossessed. Two of Mbatona's men who fought with him at Uitkomst, Kanjemi and Kandiapu, survived the war and established a stronghold in the Omaheke, remaining outside German control and using the Omuramba network to raid German farms.  Both were had prior service as police or native soldiers (possibly in South Africa) and Kanjema was known as 'the Captain of the Sandfeld.'  They remained outlawed and at large, providing a refuge for other survivors who tried to remain outside the brutal farm labor system that governed the lives of the defeated Herero in Southwest Africa. It was not until 1911 when their location was betrayed and they were captured by the Germans.  Kanjema was executed n secret on orders of the Governor,, and Kandiapua was beaten to death while a prisoner in Swakopmund awaiting transportation to German Kamerun.

As for the Boer farm Uitkomst, by 1910 it had been divided in two, with Klein Uitkomst comprising the southern part of the original farm.  During South African rule these two farms and a small third property that extended to the Otavi Mountains became a government Agricultural Research station.  In 2009, the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement of independent Namibia acquired Uitkomst as land for the Hai||om "San" or "Bushmen", its original indigenous inhabitants.

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