German South West African Police
  Police Forces in South West Africa 1890's-1907

Figure 1

Uniforms of the Schutztruppe on Police Duties
Before the formation of the Landespolizei in 1905, Schutztruppe personnel on police duties wore standard Schutztruppe uniforms (in Khaki or Corduroy) with a red sash over the right shoulder (although some photographs show it worn on the left shoulder).

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of a Schutztruppe Polizei-Unteroffizier probably taken in about 1904-05. This Schutztruppe soldier serving as a police acting NCO wears the Schutztruppe 1896 Khaki Uniform with Südwester hat. The tunic's piping and the Südwester's hatband and edging are in blue for the Schutztruppe. Later Landespolizei in Khaki Uniforms did not wear the Schutztruppe's piping.

To distinguish him as being on police duties he wears a red sash over his right shoulder.

Curiously he wears what appears to be a rank chevron on a dark coloured armband on his left arm. One possibility is that this is a temporary promotion to Unteroffizier solely for use while on police duties, in which case the chevron would probably be in white metallic lace as used by the Schutztruppe. The colour of the armband itself is impossible to tell from the original black and white photograph. For the purpose of this illustration I have guessed at it being in blue, the usual colour of the backing to Schutztruppe rank chevrons. 

The long riding boots are more commonly seen in photographs taken in the early 1890s and were usually replaced by the shorter jackboot style footwear by the turn of the century.

On his right side he has what appears to be a S71/84 bayonet with an other ranks bayonet knot in company colours.

Uniforms of the Landespolizei 1905-07
From the initial formation of the South West African Landespolizei on 1st March 1905 until the introduction of the 1907 Dark Khaki Uniform, the police were authorised to wear Schutztruppe uniforms with police insignia, according to the senior Landespolizei officer Hans Rafalski in "Vom Niemandsland zum Ordnungsstaat".

This insignia consisted of police red piping in the place of the South West African Schutztruppe's blue. Likewise the collar of the Kord Waffenrock was red, with the Swedish style cuffs plain for the Sergeant and red for the Wachtmeister (Rafalski reports that the use of red cuffs for the Wachtmeister was soon discontinued). The Polizei-Sergeant wore a band of white metallic lace around the collar and cuffs of the Kord Waffenrock and across the collar patch of the greatcoat (see NCO Rank Insignia). The Wachtmeister wore a double band in the same places.

Shoulder straps were red (with a small white metal badge in the shape of a crowned shield bearing the imperial eagle for the Wachtmeister). Tunic buttons were white metal (presumably with the imperial crown as worn by the Schutztruppe). The red sash continued to be worn when on active duty for a while but was soon discarded as unsuitable.

The Südwester of the Schutztruppe was worn but with red edging and hatband (although Rafalski does not mention it, a Schutztruppe peaked field cap with red hatband and piping may also have been worn).

It is difficult to find photographs that confirm all of Rafalski's details, a few photographs claim to show early Landespolizei in Schutztruppe uniform but it is impossible to differentiate the police red collar and cuffs from the Schutztruppe blue collar and cuffs in black and white photographs. It is also known from other photographs that variations on this regulation uniform were worn during this early transitional phase of the Landespolizei.

Figure 2


Figure 2 is based on a photograph of Polizei-Wachtmeister Ernst Klages of the Landespolizei taken in Windhoek in about 1907. He wears a curious variation on the standard Schutztruppe khaki tunic. This tunic has only one breast pocket, five buttons down the front and does not appear to have any piping. The shoulder straps are those of a Wachtmeister authorised from 1905, red with a small white metal imperial eagle. On his left breast he wears several medals, from left to right they are the Prussian "Militärehrenzeichen II. Klasse", an unidentified medal, the South West African Campaign Medal in bronze for combatants and the Prussian "Dienstauszeichnung III. Klasse" for 9 years of service. It has also been recorded that Klages received the Baden "Verdienstmedaille" in silver but it does not appear to be on this bar.

His hat is the Schutztruppe Südwester with a large imperial cockade on the right hand side. It is impossible to tell for certain from the original black and white photograph upon which this illustration is based if it has Schutztruppe blue or police red hatband and edging.

His trousers are Schutztruppe corduroy riding breeches, worn with officers riding boots. He wears a thin leather belt, posibly privately acquired, with an unidentified weapon or piece of equipment on his left side.
  Ernst Klages was born on 5th December 1881 and entered the NCO school at Biebrich after working in a printing press. In 1902 he joined the 112th Baden Infantry Regiment ("4. Badisches Infanterie Regiment Prinz Wilhelm Nr.112") as a Gefreiter, and was promoted to Unteroffizier on 27th January1903. On 4th November 1904 he transferred to the 11. Kompagnie of the 2. Feld Regiment of the South West African Schutztruppe and saw action at Karas, Fischfluss and Oranjebergen. On 1st May 1906 he was promoted to Sergeant before transferring to the Landespolizei on 15th May 1907 to serve in the Windhoek District Office.



Mounted Schutztruppe Police
These men appear to wear regular Schutztruppe uniform with Schutztruppe Südwester hats with the addition of a red sash for the mounted German and two Africans. The mounted German is armed with a Reichsrevolver pistol.

Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

Schutztruppe Police Veterans
The caption on this photograph says they were the first Schutztruppe in Otjimbingwe 1890 ("Die erste Schutztruppe in Otjimbingwe 1890"). It is most probable that this is a re-union of those original troops and that this photograph was taken much later as the men all wear the 1896 Corduroy Tunic with Sedish style cuffs and three of the men wear the 1897 Wilhelm I Centenary medal. The NCO on the right also has a pre-1913 Long Service Award. This NCO has noticably darker cuffs and collar than the other men. It could be that they are black piped in red for a Medical NCO. These men might well be Schutztruppe veterans doing police service as identified by the red sashes worn over the shoulder. They are armed with the Reichsrevolver pistol.

Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv


Special thanks for help on this page goes to S Schepp who has been researching the Landespolizei for many years and has recently published his work on them-

"Unter dem Kreuz des Südens-
Auf Spuren der Kaiserlichen Landespolizei von Deutsch-Südwestafrika

"This is the definitive study of the Landespolizei in German South West Africa. As you would expect it covers the history, organisation, uniforms and equipment of the Landespolizei but what it also does is bring these extensively researched facts and figures to life by winding it around the life stories of many of the policemen themselves. The author has travelled the world to find descendants of the Landespolizei to find their own personal stories. This touch, as well as the hundreds of previously unpublished facts, photographs and illustrations makes this book a must for all those interested in the German colonies."



See "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens" for more details and how to purchase this invaluable book.


Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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