cardboard box travel shop logo

Cardboard Box Travel Shop


Prisoner of War Camp

Aus | Namibia

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 West 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 9th July 1915 the end of the South West Africa Campaign of WW1 was marked with the surrendering of the armed forces of German Protectorate at Khorab. It was signed at Kilometre 500, north-east of Otavi.

A condition of the agreement was that all non-commissioned officers and troops of the active forces and police would be held in a prison until the end of the war. A tented camp was built near Aus in the south of South West Africa and from July 1915 until August of that year the German troops were in situ.

Aus, on the edge of the Namib Desert, is one of the coldest places in Namibia in winter and in September 1915 the climate conditions varied to include blazing heat followed by snow and a sandstorm. The tents were clearly inadequate but sparked the Germans to erect small huts of unbaked bricks as shelter from the meteorological extremes of the regions.

A village of solid structures developed, some underground, of stone, clay and corrugated iron. Constructive work, even in such harsh conditions, nourishes the heart and soul. Their initiative in improving their lifestyles in the form of basic but hospitable housing projects, clearly sustained their health and morale.

The 1,438 prisoners were guarded by 600 garrison troops. The guards of the South African Army consisted of mainly of soldiers unfit for duty in WW1. They lived in hessian or patched tents and did not have the desire to improve their living conditions. In traditional internment fashion, the prisoners toiled and laboured in the dust and heat of the desert. They constructed a bell tower, 6m high, shaped as a hexagonal pillar. Five kilometres of tram tracks were also laid, easing the transport of essential supplies to the camp.

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.

In November 1918, the Great War (WW1) was over. On the 13th May 1919 the camp was officially closed and the prisoners-of-war were no longer incarcerated at the camp near Aus. A testimony to their ingenuity and determination to survive can be remembered by the remains of the POW's huts which can still be seen today. It has been deemed appropriate that their survival efforts deserve a worthwhile monument.

The Prisoner-of-War Camp was proclaimed a national monument on 15th June 1985. A memorial stone was unveiled at the site of 3rd August of that year. The remains of the camp are situated about 5km east of Aus and can be visited while on holiday in Namibia.

Bahnhof Hotel

A lovely country hotel in the small village of Aus

Eagles Nest Lodge

Self-catering, rock bungalows on the Klein Aus Vista property. As Eagles Nest has no restaurant facilities guests are welcome to use the restaurant at Desert Horse Inn. This is a beautiful place to spend a few nights enjoying the beauty of southern Namibia

Desert Horse Inn

Named after the desert horses which are one of the main reasons for visiting the area, this is the more main stream lodge on the Klein Aus Vista property

Hotel in Namibia