Incongruously located just a few kilometres east of Aus, a small cemetery and the remains of a First World War POW camp speak of Namibia’s unique, little known history. It’s intriguing to note that Great War hostilities travelled this far, with South African Commonwealth troops crossing the border into German controlled South West Africa in 1915 to overwhelm a token Schutztruppen force sent by the Kaiser. All of the captured officers were made to build their own POW camp amidst the harsh desert conditions, but reports indicate that they were not too unjustly treated and gradually adjusted to their lot.
Ironically, it was influenza rather than combat which killed a number of people in 1918, both German and South African. Their graves can be seen in a reasonably well preserved cemetery at the end of a challenging road off the B4, buried together and with dates suggesting that many died within the same October fortnight. A short way south-east from here are the slightly underwhelming remains of the POW camp, although their story and the smattering of identifiable brick constructions can still evoke a sense of what it must have been like to be imprisoned in this inhospitable land far from home, a place to all intents and purposes utterly irrelevant to the politics of the time.