The Germans in East Africa

The first period of German rule over Kilimanjaro proved to be exceptionally harsh, and many Germans soon felt uneasy about the excesses of Dr Peters and his followers. In 1906 an enquiry opened in the Reichstag into the conduct of the doctor and his men, in which an open letter was read out to the court. Its contents give an idea of the hatred that the doctor and his men aroused in the locals:

What have you achieved by perpetual fights, by acts of violence and oppression? You have achieved, Herr Doctor, I have it from your own mouth in the presence of witnesses – that you and the gentlemen of your staff cannot go five minutes’ distance from the fort without military escort. My policy enables me to make extensive journeys and shooting trips in Kilimanjaro and the whole surrounding country with never more than four soldiers. You have cut the knot with the sword and achieved that this most beautiful country has become a scene of war. Before God and man you are responsible for the devastation of flourishing districts, you are responsible for the deaths of our comrades Bulow and Wolfram, of our brave soldiers and of hundreds of Wachagga. And now I bring a supreme charge against you: Necessity did not compel you to this. You required deeds only in order that your name might not be forgotten in Europe.

Wooden Peters Hut, which no longer exists, on the slopes of Kilimanjaro with Mawenzi behind.

Peters Hut, which stood near to where Horombo Huts (on the Marangu Route) stands today.

Soon German soldiers were being attacked and killed and, with opposition to their rule growing stronger and more organized, they suffered a massive defeat at Moshi at the hands of the Chagga, led by Meli, Mandara’s son.

Though the Germans regained control, it was clear to them that a more benevolent style of government was required if they were to continue ruling over their East African territories. This new ‘caring colonialism’ paid off, and for the last decade or so of their rule the Germans lived largely at peace with their subjects and even forged a useful alliance with the Chaggas during the German’s push against the rebellious Masai tribes.

The Germans also started the practice of hut-building on Kilimanjaro, establishing one at 8500ft (2550m), known asBismarck Hut, and one at 11,500ft (3450m) known as Peters’ Hut, after Dr Karl.

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