Prisoner-of-War Camp, Aus
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  • Longitude: 16.287761
  • Latitude: -26.676244
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Prisoner-of-War Camp, Aus

The Prisoner-of-war Camp (POW) near Aus has been recognized as being the final chapter of German colonial building heritage in Namibia. The Official Gazette stated:

"The prisoner-of-war camp was erected after the conclusion of peace in July 1915 between the German and Union forces in South Africa. 

A total of 1 552 prisoners of war were initially based in this camp. This figure however, later rose to 1 845 and by November 1915 dropped to 1 500. This number remained constant hereafter until the official closing of the camp on 13 May 1919."

About two weeks after the surrender of the German Colonial Troops at Khorab on 9 July 1915, 797 German prisoners of war were brought by train from Otavi to Aus.

Although the prisoners knew they would only live there for a short while, they built solid dwellings using stone, clay and corrugated iron. In most cases the floors were below ground level for protection against the cold.

Their moral was good and they laid out flower and vegetable gardens and practiced a variety of sports. A brass band provided musical entertainment by holding concerts on a regular basis. They had a movie projector and the prisoners put on plays themselves.

The engineers in the camp built a clock large enough for a town hall, using all sorts of oddments for the machinery. When the clock chimed, as it did every quarter of an hour, the sound rang through Aus a mile and a half away.

In 1918 an influenza virus spread across South West Africa. Around 69 POW's and 60 military members of the garrison succumbed to the epidemic. They were buried in the cemetery 4.7km north-west of the POW camp.

The remains of the POW’s huts can be seen 5 km east of Aus on the B4 road, and it was claimed a national monument on 15 June 1985.

Historic photos from the collection of W Kotze.

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