Leutnant Klewitz, a South West African Schutztruppe Officer



Photo © Anonymous Private Owner

This is a posed studio photograph taken in Munster, Germany in 1904. It shows Leutnant Carl Klewitz shortly before his departure for South West Africa.

His headdress is the South West African Schutztruppe Südwester hat in grey felt with a hatband and edging in blue for South West Africa, pinned up on the right hand side with a large imperial cockade.

His tunic is the South West African Schutztruppe officers "Kord Interimsrock". It was made of grey brown corduroy piped in blue around the collar, front and Swedish cuffs. Unlike the Kord Waffenrock, the Interimsrock did not have blue collars and cuffs, nor Litzen. It had eight white metal buttons down the front, two on each cuff and smaller ones attaching the shoulder straps. Each button bore an imperial crown. The shoulder straps are plain white metallic cord with black and reds threads for a Leutnant (see Officers Rank Insignia Page). Under the collar of his uniform he wears a privately purchased white collar stock.

His trousers are matching corduroy. He wears a Schutztruppe officers belt consisting of white metallic cord with black and reds threads and a white metal belt buckle bearing the imperial monogram (see Belt Buckles Page). His sword is again standard for Schutztruppe officers with a sword knot in the imperial colours. He wears privately purchased leather gloves.

Carl Albert Gustav Klewitz (1881-1945) first joined the 25th Württemberg Dragoons (Dragonerregiment "Königin Olga" (1. Württ.) Nr. 25) as a brevet Fähnrich in 1898 and had been promoted to Leutnant by 1900. He transferred to the South West African Schutztruppe in 1904 where he saw action during the Herero Rebellion. In 1905 he was awarded both the Prussian Order of the Crown, 4th Class with Swords and the Württemberg Military Service Order (along with the title "von") for service in South West Africa. In 1906 he returned to the 25th Württemberg Dragoons, back to the South West African Schutztruppe in 1907 and back again to the Dragoons in 1912 having been promoted to Oberleutnant in 1910. In 1913 he was seconded to the Colonial Office and in January 1914 sent to command the German New Guinea Polizeitruppe, again being promoted- this time to Rittmeister. He arrived in March and began training local troops. Within months of his arrival, the First World War broke out and von Klewitz organised the brief German resistance at Bita-Paka in September 1914. In the days following the skirmish with Australian naval troops he negotiated a surrender for his troops along with Governor Hahl. Von Klewitz spent the rest of the war Berrima and Liverpool Prisoner of War Camps in Australia, returning to Germany in on board the 'Kursk' in 1919 and marrying Ilse Schmidt the following year. Between the wars he held the brevet rank of Major in the army reserve and worked in financial offices in Dresden. As a reserve officer during the Second World War he served on the army staff in Poland and France, retiring as an Oberstleutnant in 1941.

Please respect the generosity of the Anonymous Private Owner in sharing this photograph and information with us by not reproducing it without prior permission. 

Please contact me here if you have other photographs of the German colonies or the soldiers and sailors that served there. I am especially keen to hear from people with family photograph collections and am always happy to try to assist in identifying uniforms, units, places and dates for family history research.

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