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German Lazaret

Gobabis | Namibia

Towards the end of the 19th century fighting between the German colonial government and the Mbanderu (cousins of the Herero) and the Nama had ended with the sentencing to death of Chiefs Kahimemua Nguvauva and Nikodemus Kavekunua. A small number of German troops were stationed near Gobabis who required stronger fortifications than was previously provided.

The relevant Official Gazette proclaiming the building as a national monument wrote:

'The construction of the German lazaret was commenced in 1896 and it was used as a military hospital until 1904. It is an important link with the early military history of the easterly parts of South West Africa'.

As Gobabis was the easternmost military post of the German colony the lazaret would be the only building of its kind over a radius of 240km in a region of 75,000km². The highest piece of ground was selected for military reasons and the construction began. Stones were piled on top of each other and cemented with plaster. Pre-fabricated wooden beams and corrugated iron sheets were imported from Germany and flooring was made from local stone. Features included a built-in fireplace, arched windows and a verandah.

Wounded soldiers were treated at the lazaret until 1904. Afterwards mainly malaria and diarrhoea sufferers were attended to. Dr. Oskar Georg Wienecke, the resident medical practitioner, was shot by an unknown assailant by the nearby river on 24th May 1907.

At the conclusion of WW1 until Namibia's independence in 1990, the former hospital was used a residence for various civilians and civil servants. After independence it was used as government offices.

The German Lazaret in Gobabis was officially proclaimed a national monument on 20th December 1974.

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