German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

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German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 01 Aug 2020 12:42

German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA – (Part I Location Gitega)

Because I suspect also a longer investigation in the search for the graves in Burundi, I separated
this thread from the search in Rwanda. viewtopic.php?f=73&t=250613

Again, the events in Burundi were a primarily dealing between the German “Schutztruppe” and the
Belgian “Force Publique”. The `online project of Memorials in GEA´ made also records available here.
For the country Burundi are mentioned two locations with together 33 (?) buried of the “Schutztruppe”.

01_Location Gitega with two graves.png
Source: ... rundi.html
The name of this second largest city in Burundi is Gitega (since 2019 official Capital), not Gitenga.

Below are further additions listed:

NCO Hans Steidel (not Seidel or Steidl)
Unteroffizier, Ingenieur Steidel, Anfang Juni (1916) infolge Verwundung gestorben.”
Source: DKB 1917, page 29, Sixth casualty list from the German East-Africa protectorate.

The following telegram was send from General-Major Kurt Wahle in Tabora to headquarter
in Daressalam and mentioned a heavy defensive combat by the Detachment Captain Max
on 6. June 1916 at the Kogawami Mission, Urundi against a Belgian battalion.
Hereby NCO Hans Steidel was mortally wounded (`head shot; - little hope´).
02_Telegram 6.6.1916 - Kogawami.JPG
Source: War diary of the High Command of the Imperial Schutztruppe in GEA 1.1.1916 bis 12.12.1917

This telegram cut-out comes from Captain Erich Langenn-Steinkeller on 11.6.1916 and was
forwarded by General-Major Kurt Wahle in Tabora to the HQ in Daressalam on 16.6.1916.
03_Telegram 10.6.1916 - Gitega.png
Source: War diary of the High Command of the Imperial Schutztruppe in GEA 1.1.1916 bis 12.12.1917

Summary: The above listed documents mentioned, that NCO Hans Steidel was deadly wounded
by a head shot on 6.6.1916 at the Mission Kogawami / Burundi and died on 9.6.1916 near Gitega.
He was member of the Rwanda A-Company as part of the `Detachment Wintgens´.

Second lieutenant (Ensign) d. R. Richard Westermeier (not Westemeier)
Dem K. und K. österreichisch-ungarischen Fähnrich der Reserve Westermeier
wurde am 2. September 1916 das Eiserne Kreuz 2. Klasse verliehen

Source: DKB 1916, page 222, Personal details of the Imperial Schutztruppe for GEA

K.u.K. Lt. d. Res. Westermeier. Richard, geb. 26.5.1891 in Kwaßwitz, gefallen 10.6.1916 bei Gibega.“
Source: DKB 1918, page 318, Fourteenth casualty list from the GEA protectorate.

Lt.d.R. Westermeier (Richard)(Feldkan.Regt 8);
Prokurist bei Sigi_Pfanzungsges. m.b.H. in Segoma (Bez. Tanga) Einheit?
Gefallen 12.6.1916 am Navegi-Berg oder 10.6.1916 bei Gibega?; Eis.Kreuz 2. Kl. (2.9.16)
Source: The officer corps of the Schutztruppe for German East Africa in the World War 1914-1918

04_Telegram 13.6.1916.JPG
Source: War diary of the High Command of the Imperial Schutztruppe in GEA 1.1.1916 bis 12.12.1917
05_Telegram 19.6.1916.JPG
Source: War diary of the High Command of the Imperial Schutztruppe in GEA 1.1.1916 bis 12.12.1917

Summary: The above listed documents mentioned, that Sec. lieut. d. R. Richard Westermeier
was killed in action by a head shot on 12.6.1916 at the road Iruvuraa-Gitega, Burundi

I didn´t find any further indications that Westermeier have been Adjutant of Captain Wintgens.
Adjutant is not a rank but a military function / position and Wintgens was promoted to Major
only after the war on 9. April 1920.

(Will be continued with Part II – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays)
Cheers Holger
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palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 02 Aug 2020 19:56

Part II – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays

The location of the two German graves is given in the "Online Project of the Memorials in GEA" with
Gitega. Given the proximity of the two combats that took place near Gitega in early June 1916, this
statement seems plausible.

At the end of 1897, Captain Heinrich Bethe founded the military station Usumbura, the later Bujumbura
on the north-east corner of Lake Tanganyika. The later Governor / Administrator of Urundi (Burundi),
Captain Erich von Langenn-Steinkeller, moved this administrative headquarters from Urundi in 1912
to the higher and more pleasant climate of the new location in Gitega. This new residence also offered
a more central location and better connections to the rest of the country. Gitega remained only a small
settlement until the beginning of the war in August 1914. The new Boma was built in 1912, but served
in this function only for the next four years until 16. June 1916, when Belgian troops under Colonel
occupied Gitega. The Belgians have now moved this administrative headquarters to Usumbura
/ Bujumbura, which is closer to their border. At the end of 2018, Gitega became again the capital.

So if Gitega, still under German administration, was only a small settlement with a few buildings 1916,
then the graves were probably also created in the immediate vicinity of the Boma. And if there will be
no further additional information available, it would certainly make sense to search there nowadays.
As photos shows, this building still exists today.

The local Chief Baranyanka and the Belgian District administrator Pierre Ryckmans 1918 in
front of the formally German Boma in Gitega. Various architectural elements show unmistakable
similarities to the Boma in Kigali / Rwanda, which was built also in the year 1912 by the Germans.
06_Boma Gitega.png
Original Source: ... proverbes/

The same building and perspective nowadays (?) as a prison or police station.
07_Boma Gitega.png
Original Source: ... 7343602012

(Since there are many photos of this building in the net, the Burundian Police /
Military must be very generous if they allow tourists to take photos of them today.)

Seems to be there exist a second building with the same design, near the original Boma: ... 49085@N21/ ... lemand.jpg

An extensive study to promote tourism envisages a renovation of the Boma in Gitega.
08_Plan for the reconstruction of the Boma - Kopie.png
Source (page 160): ... undi_2.pdf

The French heading of the photo below is: “The residence office in Gitega in 1914”. Since 1915
Captain Erich von Langenn-Steinkeller was the Military commander in Urundi, based in Gitega.
09_House of Langenn-Steinkeller Gitega.png
Original source: ... lonisation

City maps of today's Gitega are not known to me and could not be found in the net.
In order to determine the current location of the Boma, the following link indicates the position.
(Click on the top pink dot; - parallel street of R.N.15; - Seems to be this location is not correct.) ... A00%253A00

The Gitega German Fort, built in 1912, is located in the heart of Burundi’s political capital,
at the top of the highest hill
(?!?). It totals an area of 72 m². Its architectural quality is undeniable.
Currently, it serves as offices of the National Police. The fort has a significant historical dimension.

Source: ... -the-boma/

So where is now the highest hill inside Gitega? ... 9758377075

One thing makes me somewhat suspicious of the location of both graves in Gitega. As far
as could be determined, there have been since 1955, i.e. even during the Belgian mandate, no
further information or evidence of the existence of these graves today. At least I couldn't find one.
Strangely enough, the same data and names with the same spelling errors also appear on a website:

II. 4. 5. Cimetière des militaires allemands de1914-1918
A côté de ce cimetière, il y a un autre dit européen à Kitega qui abrite toujours deux tombes de militaires
allemands:112 celle de STEIDL Hans, décédé le 9/6/1916 et celle de WERSTEMEIER Richard, sur
laquelle est apposée une plaque avec l'inscription exotérique suivante :
Richard Westermeier, K. U. K. L. Imf. K . R . 8. et Adjudant des Majors M. Wintgens + 12-6-1916 am.
110. Archives nationales, Lettre du Ministère de l'Intérieur Bruxelles, du 21 juin 1955.
112. Archives nationales, Lettre n°10723 G31 du 1.12.1955 au Vice -Gouverneur Général , Gouverneur
du Ruanda -Urundi, Procès -verbal concernant l'identification de tombes de militaires allemands au Ruanda-Urundi.

Original source: ... le-25.html

When all data and photos have been gathered in 2021, they will of course be forwarded to the
'Online Project of the Memorials in GEA'; - If this initiative still hopefully exists!

(Will be continued with Part III – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays)
Cheers Holger
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“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 22 Aug 2020 07:45

Part III – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays
( – Positioning of the German Boma in Gitega nowadays – )

In the meantime, at least the current location of the Boma in Gitega could be determined. Due
to old Belgian city maps it was possible to fix the exact position of the Boma. With this location
it should be possible to further limit the search radius of the graves with an old German site-map.
10_Gitega downtown nowadays.jpg
Original Source: ... 29.9246016

This rough aerial view shows clearly the symmetrical basic structure of the old Boma and
its existence in Gitega earlier this year. . .
11_Gitega Boma aerial view.jpg
Original Source: Google Earth from 29. February 2020

. . .and the comparison with old German Ground-floor and sections in 1913.
12_Boma Gitega Floor Layout.jpg

Furthermore, two nearly identical perspectives from the north-north-west direction as a comparison
between then and now.

In 1918 . . .
13_Boma Gitega 1918.jpg

. . . and 1980
14_Boma Gitega 1980.jpg
Original Source:
Gitega Capitale Du Burundi. Une Ville Du Far West En Afrique Orientale Allemande (1912-1916)

Will be continued with . . .
Part IV – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays
( – Further German remains in Gitega / Burundi – )

Cheers Holger
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“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 28 Aug 2020 14:31

Part IV – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays
( – Further German remains in Gitega / Burundi - subpart 1 – )

Let´s continue with the collection of background information about the graves in Gitega from
NCO Hans Steidel and Sec. Lieut. d. R. Richard Westermeier, who were buried there in 1916.

In the meantime, the position of the former European cemetery in 1914 could be determined.
This location was 355 meters north-north-west of the current Boma position, on the right side
of this street. But the existence and presence of graves can be determined only later on site.

Also of interest are the Boma and other structural remains in the historical city centre in Gitega.
It’s of course also the ''Charm of the Little and Unknown'', because Gitega didn´t belong to the
well-known colonial metropolitan areas like Daressalaam, Tanga, Arusha, with its many relicts.
Below a topographical sketch from Gitega in 1915 with position of former German colonial relicts;
as a summary of old German, French and Belgian sketches, Google positions, and contour lines.

The perspective distortion of the Google maps was taken into account and adopted for the display
of the streets and connecting routes. The German "Ring-Strasse" was originally planned as a full
circle and was also shown in the documents in such a way. The pure circular shape was definitely
planned at another location, because Captain Erich von Langenn-Steinkeller had already indicated
on his first sketch on 12. April 1912, a more elliptical street shape, also taking into account the height
gradation of the hill. In addition, the position of the Boma (BUILDING No. 1) was slightly eccentric,
because the connecting streets already led orthogonally through circle-centre of the "Ring-Strasse".

15_Gitega Centre before the GW.jpg
Own topographical sketch

Here again the final house of the German Resident in Gitega. This residential building was about 225
meters north-north-west from the Boma (BUILDING No. 1), on the outer circle of the "Ring-Strasse".
16_Gitega House of the Resident 1.jpg

This photo shows the same building, was taken on 23. August 1918 and comes from the archive
of the `White Fathers´. The little boy in the foreground is the official Burundian heir to the throne,
Mwambutsa IV. Bangiricenge. After a series of internal murders in the kingdom, to which his father
King Mutaga II. also fell victim, he held this title on behalf of the Belgian administration until 1930.
17_Gitega House of the Resident 2.jpg
Online source: ... lonisation

Below, the Inauguration of the new residential headquarters in Gitega on 15. August 1912. In the
background the first provisional Boma (already made of stone but with thatched roof), which was
later still used for administrative management after the completion of the new Boma in 1913. The
position of this building have been about 45 meters west of the Resident's house. (BUILDING No. 2)
18_Gitega First Boma 1912.jpg
Published Source:
“Burundi – Trente ans d`histoire en photos – 1900-1930“, 1984, René Collart & Georges Celis, p.17

BUILDING No. 4 or 5?
This photo by Captain Erich von Langenn-Steinkeller must have been taken before 1911, i.e. before the
author of the below mentioned book, the German geographer Dr. Hans Meyer, ended his trip in Burundi,
and before the new Residential headquarter was transferred from Usumbura to Gitega in August 1912.
The subtitle “In front the district office Gitega” and the building themselves couldn´t be identified yet.
19_Gitega district office 1911.jpg
Original source, online:
“Die Barundi: Eine völkerkundliche Studie aus Deutsch-Ostafrika“, Hans Meyer 1916, p. 254 ... fo/2071671
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 28 Aug 2020 14:39

Part V – Location of the graves in Gitega nowadays
( – Further German remains in Gitega / Burundi - subpart 2 – )

To complete currently the collection of German remains in Gitega, the following are the final results.

`The settlement Gitega in 1918´
This photo comes from a series of similar photos and was taken on 23. August 1918 by the Belgian
photographer Ernest Gourdinne
on behalf of the Secretariat of the Colonial Ministry in Brussels. This
photo appears in the below-mentioned book by the French Father, Monseigneur Julien Gorju from the
Catholic Africa missions of the `White Fathers´. Another shot from this photo-series shows the Boma
in the background on the hill. But the exact location and the current presence couldn´t be identified yet.

20_Gitega on 23. August 1918.jpg
Published Source:
“En zigzags à travers l'Urundi“, Monseigneur Julien Gorju, Société missionnaires d'Afrique, Namur, 1926, p.112

Below, two more houses that are supposed to be still on the horizontal (east-west) main street
`Boulevard du Triomphe´. Photo No.21 shows one of the buildings and No.22 and No.23 the other.

21_Gitega-German Colonial building 2.jpg
Online source: ... a-lecture/

22_Gitega-German Colonial building 1.jpg
Online source: ... ue/photos/
23_Gitega-German Colonial building 1.jpg
Online source:

Furthermore, there are written and photographic source that nowadays there are more remaining ruins
or part of buildings in the former German quarter (?) in 2011, north of the old city centre of Gitega.

I think we will stop currently here the search in Gitega, until more and deeper results from German
and Belgian original sources about graves are available in the future, . . . or maybe later on site.

Questions about the graves to the German embassy in Burundi were of course not answered at all.
The times of a Reinhart Bindseil or Karl Wand as German ambassadors in these areas are definitely
over. Due to the pressure of the current German government to obey the “political correctness”, the
objective historical search for such German traces is really not welcomed there or would be supported.

(Will be continued with Part VI – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke)
Cheers Holger
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 06 Oct 2020 17:46


Part VI – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke

Part VII – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke


Part VIII – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke

Part IX – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke

Part X – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke


Part VI – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke


The second location with German graves in Burundi is near Cibitoke, in the western part of the country.
At this cemetery in Cibitoke the situation is completely different compared to Gitega. (See: Part I - V)
In Gitega, the names and dates of both victims are clearly verifiable; the location of the graves, however,
is not. On the other hand, at Cibitoke, the location can be clearly identified; - but not all names and data.

Cibitoke is one of the biggest in East Africa and also one of the few WWI cemeteries where Europeans
and Askaris were buried together. At that time, different cemeteries for Africans and Europeans were
common practice among the European colonial powers. The same with Muslim and Christian cemeteries.

Before the First World War, Cibitoke (German: Tschiwitoke) was only a small, but important German relay
station on the way from Usumbura on Lake Tanganyika to Cyangugu / Ruzizi (German: Schangugu) on Lake
Kiwu. (The location of the old Tschiwitoke and the new Cibitoke, however, moved 5 km further north.) From
1914 this small post was temporarily occupied by eleven Askaris. From 1915 a material store and a first aid
station were built, both in Tschiwitoke and in Rugombo further north. Both posts had a small Boma and
were the base and starting point of the fighting between the German "Schutztruppe" and the Belgian "Force
Public". After a fight, all parties took their losses on their own territory. It can therefore be assumed that the
original location of present cemetery in Rugombo was created by the "Schutztruppe" themselves. (See the
report, below) Future file inspections in German and Belgian archives should provide here further information.


The `Online Project for Memorials for victims in GEA´ mention and describe this cemetery as:
"Nyakagunda, Distrikt Rugombo, Provinz Cibitoke": ... rundi.html

Another platform lists further details, such as the names and locations of this cemetery, and describes this as:
"Nyakagunda German War Cemetery":

Today Cibitoke is the capital of the province of the same name and is located halfway between the southern
tip of Lake Kivu and the northern end of Lake Tanganyika on the Congolese border. Nyakagunda is only the
river that flows under the regional road RN5, through the village of Rugombo and then into the Ruzizi River,
and therefore no fixed geographical position. The municipality Rugombo is located 9 km north of Cibitoke.

24_Ludwig Boell Map Section Urundi.jpg
Original Source: “The operations in East Africa 1914-1918”, Ludwig Boell, 1951

This section of an old US American military map from 1942 shows the old position of Tschiwitoke, and the
unchanged situation of Rugombo and Luvungi, furthermore the border river Ruzizi in scale of 1: 100,000.
Both, Tschiwitoke in Burundi and Luvungi in the Congo were villages near fords, to cross the Ruzizi River.
Original Source: ... 5_bose.jpg

Fortunately, those on the above-mentioned internet platform, GPS coordinates and graphs match. The
cemetery is located just after the southern exit of Rugombo, on the western side of the main road RN5.
26_Position of Cemetery.jpg
Original Source: ... metery/map

Here is the detailed view of the cemetery position, 550 meters west of the northern end of Lake Dogodogo.
27_Position near Rugombo.jpg
Original Source: ... N6TlE9PQ==

The following is the report of an eyewitness about the situations at that time in Tschiwitoke, Rugombo and
the funeral of German fallen soldiers at Rugombo. Sergeant Ascan Roderich Lutteroth was a member of the
"Detachment Urundi" in Usumbura from 1914 to 1916 and witnessed the fighting along the border first hand.
This report clearly mentions that the former German cemetery is identical to the current position in Rugombo.
Some lines of this report are also very valuable because they contain a lot of details and position indications in
order to be able to search also for further structural remains next year on site in Tschiwitoke and Rugombo.

". . . Since the Ruzizi valley exuded an almost unbearable heat, I decided to march at night. At three o'clock
in the morning I set off again with my Askaris in the bright moonlight, and over the Kateli-Mountain we went
towards the Boma Tschiwitoke. "

Now it was to be rebuilt as a bulwark against the Belgian Boma Luvungi on the opposite bank. The main
building was best preserved and was tackled first. The walls were erected, a tall eucalyptus tree was felled
to be used as a roof ridge, and the Barundi dragged reeds and grass in long caravans from dawn to dusk
to cover the roof. It is amazing how quickly such a house can grow out of the earth with the abundance of
building materials and people in Africa. It only took a few days for the whole Boma to be ready-made. With
two very large rooms on each side and a long, continuous hall in the middle that served as a dining and
living room.
[. . . ] The Askari village grew out of the ground away from our buildings. In a very short time
a stately complex of round huts for the Askaris and their relatives was built. At the back of our house we
set up a large porter store, also consisting of several round huts "

[. . . ]
Attack on the Congo Boma Luvungi
In Urundi, where it had been so quiet up to now, a large undertaking against the Belgians was now being
prepared. After the unfortunate outcome of the battle against the Belgians in Luvungi in January 1915,
they wanted to try again to throw the enemy out of their strongly fortified position in Luvungi. Larger troops
should now be concentrated in Urundi for this undertaking. Captain Hans Schulz, a tried and tested active
officer of the Schutztruppe, had been assigned with the commando.

The occupation of Luvungi wanted to gain a firm foothold on the other bank of the Ruzizi and thus cut off
the connection between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Kivu for the Belgians. For this reason, the 25. Field-
Company (First Lieutenant d.L I Hans Müller), the 30. Field-Company (Captain Wilhelm Bock von Wülfingen),
the 22. Field-Company (Lieutenant Commander d.R Ferdinand Jantzen) and the Marine Expedition Corps
"Möwe" (First Lieutenant z.S. Job Odebrecht) ordered to Usumbura, plus one of the Daressalam C 73 salute
guns and a small 3.7-centimeter gun. All of these formations gradually began their march to Rugombo from

[. . . ]
"First I camped at Lake Tanganyika, where a new path had been cut through the reeds. I made this terrain
passable by first throwing large amounts of sand into the swamp. Then clubs came over it, then a thick
layer of reeds, then sand again and more reeds. So finally a good way came about.
The next morning the 25. Field-Company went through with me, which I brought to Bulinga to assign a camp
site to them there. Gradually it went up the Ruzizi valley again. The slopes of the Kagunusi and Kabulantwa
rivers were so steep that I had to make big switchbacks so that the gun could get to the river. After a few
weeks this road construction work was finished and I was on my way back to Usumbura. The sun was shining
down on the Bulinga steppe with true devil's glow. The sandy ground was so hot that the soles of your feet
burned. The road led for hours through this glowing, almost completely treeless steppe, and my porters with
their heavy loads on their heads were completely exhausted. When we finally reached the Mpanda River,
the loads flew aside, and in an instant all the porters were stretched out in the sparse river bed. I was also
completely parched. "

[. . . ]
“When I returned to Usumbura, I was immediately sent back to Rugombo, which had changed a lot lately.
That was no longer “my Rugombo”, which I had only recently built from a few meagre remains of the wall.
Now I looked a lot different and had meanwhile turned into a large troop camp. The hall of the house had
been set up as an officers' mess, but a large number of European huts had been attached around it. Even
a spacious hospital had been set up with all the necessary accessories. It was under the direction of Medical
officer Dr. Gerhard Grothusen
and included both a European and a native hospital. Not far from the Boma
was one of the Daressalam C73 salute guns.

To the rear, the large porter camp followed, where it was colourful and lively. Then whole rows of European
tents stood next to each other. If you followed the newly laid paths, you came across more and more camps
that were hidden in the Pori, in the middle of the green under tall, shady trees. Small company villages had
settled everywhere. The crew of the “Möwe” had laid out a long, wide street, with stately huts lined up on both
sides. A large number of companies and smaller units had holed up here in the bush. There was the Training
Detachment of the 22. Field-Company, the 25. Field-Company, led by the Daressalam lawyer First Lieutenant
d.L. Hans Müller
, and also the Detachment of First Lieutenant d.L. II Wolf von Debschitz. - First Lieutenant von
as the best expert on the Ruzizi valley, was assigned to Captain Hans Schulz as adjutant.

I was recruited into the "Schutztruppen-Detachment-Urundi" and came under the command of Lieutenant d.R.
Max Wentzel
. He was a particularly pleasant and very calm superior who enjoyed equal respect for black and
white. The appearance of Rugombo had become military, and it was now like a military training area. Morning
after morning you could watch the Companies swarming their way through the area, only to finally storm a Boma
with a mighty `hurray´ that had been built in the middle of the bush. Every leader was eager to give his troops
the finishing touches for the imminent major attack on the Belgian Boma Luvungi.

The question of how the companies should cross the raging Ruzizi River caused a headache. Resourceful
minds even tried to construct rafts out of canvas and reed, a method that was not carried out. An aluminium
boat that could be assembled from half a dozen large boxes had been hauled in from Usumbura. Askaris
have already been put there on a trial basis to determine how many men can be transferred in each case.
Everywhere there was feverish activity in preparation for the planned attack.

[. . . ]
The following formations were available to Captain Hans Schulz for the operation against Luvungi:

22. Field-Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lieutenant Commander d.R Ferdinand Jantzen

Department of Debschitz . . . . . . . . . First Lieutenant d.L. II Wolf von Debschitz
Consisting of
European train "seagull". . . . . . . . . . . First Lieutenant z.S. Job Odebrecht
1. Platoon of the Training-Detachment of
22. Field-Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Lieutenant z.S. Job Odebrecht

25. Field-Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . First Lieutenant d.L. I Hans Müller

30. Field-Company. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Captain Wilhelm Bock von Wülfingen
with the 3.7-centimetre Field-gun

C73 gun. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Captain d.L. II Albrecht Hering

Red-Cross-Detachment. . . . . . . . . . . .Medical officer Dr. Gerhard Grothusen

On the night of September 26th to 27th, 1915, the operation against Luvungi began. The Ruzizi was
crossed in three different places. At the main crossing point near the village of Sultan Matakambo, an
elongated position had been set up on a mountainside, in whose trenches I and 40 Askaris moved
into a reception position to secure the passage of the troops. A strong steel hawser had been pulled
from one bank of the Ruzizi to the other. The aluminium boat was attached to it by means of an iron
ring. The plan was to push the boat along this steel cable and in this way move the companies quickly
and easily from one bank to the other. But things turned out differently: When the first division under
Private Karl Münch had taken their place in the boat, the ring tore off and the boat drifted rudderless
down the torrent. Now there were only a few primitive dugouts left for the River crossing, each of which
could only accommodate a small number of people.

Loading and transferring the machine guns in the wobbly barges was particularly difficult. As a result of
these unfavourable transport options, the crossing took until late at night. On the morning of September
27, 1915, the second attack on the Belgian Boma Luvungi began. As dusk was approaching, a shot
from the 3.7-entimeter gun heralded the start of the battle, and violent fire began immediately on both
sides. Almost a dozen machine guns rattled, and in between you could hear the thunder of the Daressalam
gun. The battle could be clearly overlooked from my mountain, with binoculars every European and
Askari could be seen clearly. Our Companies attacked with the greatest bravery, but this time it was
shown again what excellent soldiers the Belgian Askari were.

Lieutenant Wentzel´s Platoon, to whom I was originally assigned, was particularly affected, and it was
clear to see how various people fell of this Platoon. The first who die was Private d.L. Karl August Jop(p)e,
whom I visited on the Kaiser's birthday at his post in Kadjagga. When I fell ill in Rugombo, he was hired
as a replacement for Lieutenant Wentzel´s Platoon. The fight raged with undiminished fierceness, and
at noon the shooting was still as lively as at the beginning of the engagement.

The sun burned glowing down on the plain. Since the Companies had not received a drop of water since
the previous evening, I got in touch with Effendi, the brother of Sultan Matakambo, and sent a column of
50 men with large, water-filled jugs into the skirmish-lines. A large number of wounded came across the
river, some of whom were placed on stretchers, and if they were slightly injured, they arrived on foot. It
turned out that our losses must have been quite substantial. Also dead were carried across the river, as
one of the first the body of the able comrade Jop(p)e. I let my Askari line up and pay his respects to him.

The number of dead Askaris and porters was also great. There were many seriously injured among the
wounded. Again and again I received notes that I should get stretchers immediately, because the ones
that were already there, were all on their way to Rugombo with the wounded and dead. I admired the
bravery of the wounded Askaris. One was attached to me passed out. His first request when he opened
his eyes was: "Bwana, nipe Cigaretti", "Sir, give me a cigarette!"

The skirmish meanwhile proceeded with the greatest violence. There was no end in sight. So I had three
ox slaughtered and the meat quickly roasted. I also sent for a number of sacks of flour from which “Ugali”
(flour porridge) was cooked, which, shaped into balls, was carried across the river to the companies. More
and more wounded came across the river. Everything who could just crawl was provided with emergency
bandage and then had to walk the long way from the skirmish-line to the hospital in Rugombo. In the late
afternoon hour the storming of the Boma Luvungi was started again, but this time, too, our attack was
bloody rejected. Our Companies proceeded with the utmost vigour, but they were unable to carry the
attack into the trenches of the Belgians over the unprotected terrain; on the contrary, this last attempt
was again repulsed by the violent machine-gun fire of the Belgians. So the evening fell without our troops
succeeding in reaching their destination.

When it was dark, the Companies withdrew to the Ruzizi. Captain Schulz may have seen the hopelessness
of his undertaking and, after consulting the Company commanders, gave the order that the Detachments
should go back across the Ruzizi. We had 4 dead Europeans to complain; Private Karl August Jop(p)e from
the “Schutztruppen-Detachment-Urundi”, Private Albert Prillwitz from the 25. Field-Company, Militia-Member
Josef Hürstel
and First Lieutenant Paul Leitner, both from 22. Field-Company. The corpse of Lieutenant Leitner
could not be brought to Rugombo; he has found his final resting place on Belgian soil. 20 brave Askaris were
killed in this bloody battle. The losses on the part of the Belgians amounted to 9 Europeans and 34 Askaris. "

[. . . ]
“Even later, warlike events of greater importance did not take place in the Ruzizi valley; however, a large number
of Companies were initially drawn to Rugombo when Major General z.D. Kurt Wahle, who came from the south
of Bismarckburg, took over command in Rugombo. A third attack on Luvungi was refrained from. The Belgians
remained completely passive. So one Company after another was carried from Rugombo to another theatre of war."

"TUNAKWENDA" (We march), on war Safari in German East Africa, Ascan Roderich Lutteroth Verlag Broschek & Co. Hamburg 1938,

This aerial-photo of the River Ruzizi illustrates impressively the border situation between the Congo and
Burundi, and gives an idea under which difficult circumstances and combat conditions, the river-crossing
and further attacks must have taken place back then; - really incredible!
28_Ruzizi River.jpg
Original Source: ... zi_iii.jpg

Cheers Holger
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 21 Oct 2020 07:59

Part VII – German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / Location Cibitoke


The `Online Memorial Memorials Project for GEA´ provides information on the date and place of death of the
buried on the Rugombo / Cibitoke cemetery. In order to be able to review the locations and circumstances for
those members of the `Schutztruppe´ who are killed in action in Burundi, a short summary will be given below
about the fights on the border region between, Kivu / Belgian Congo and Urundi / GEA between 1914 - 1916.

When fighting broke out on the Ruzizi area for the first time 1915, Luvungi had already been in existence as a
fortress for 12 years. In 1902, the Commissaire Général Paul M.A. Costermans was sent to the new province of
`Kivu´ as Commander in chief of this border area, which was separated from the `Province Orientale´. In course
of this restructuring the strategic border posts Rutshuru, Bobandana, Nyalukemba, Luvungi and Uvira were now
expanded by the Engineer-Captain-Commander De Kemmeter with Forts and further artillery positions in order to
consolidate these claims to this Ruzizi border area and, if necessary, to extend this towards German East Africa .

A fortified position at the `Redoute Luvungi´ in 1910
29_Luvungi in 1910.png

First Lieutenant d.L.II Wolf von Debschitz, - `Schutztruppe´ gives a good description of Luvungi in his notes:
“. . . It is now necessary to describe the area a little. Luvungi lies on a flat ridge that extends from northwest to
Southeast, the highest point of which, a knoll on the north end of the ridge, was occupied by a Belgian guard.
Luvungi itself is a rectangular complex of thatched buildings with some tall eucalyptus and parks around which
trenches were drawn. An earthwork was laid out 600 meters northwest of it. A few 100 meters west of Luvungi
are strips of bush, further west again completely open plains. Immediately to the north there is an open area that
merges into bush terrain further north. The valley of the Luvungi-River, which flows by about 300 meters south
of Luvungi, has steep banks about 20 meters high and is wide and full of reeds and bushes. The area south of
the Luvungi is wavy, with a few bushes and trees, and elevates the north bank a little. There were 3 posts on
the ridge between Luvungi and the above-mentioned summit, further posts were located south of Luvungi and
east of it on the Russissi-bank."

In 1896 unrests starts in the Belgian Congo, which culminated in a large-scale mutiny of the `Force Publique´.
It was only after years of heavy fighting that loyal troops were able to put down this mutiny. According to these
riots were several border crossings into the territory of GEA, both by mutinous and government-loyal units of the
`Force Publique´. In order to have a bargaining chip for future negotiations, the Belgians occupied several posts
in German East Africa from 1900 onwards on the eastern side of the Ruzizi-River, from Kivu, to Lake Tanganyika.

Below, a detailed Belgian sketch from 20. April 1900 with the area between Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika with
Ischangi, Schangugu, Niakagunda (Rugombo) and Venehuza (Tschiwitoke). Alone this German border post,
Tschiwitoke was occupied with 10 Europeans, 3 machine guns, 1 gun and 600 Askaris by the `Force Publique´


Caption: “Congolese mercenaries at the Tschiwitoke post on Ruzizi”, by Captain Heinrich Fonck, 2. F.C. / GEA.
31_Tschiwitoke - Kopie.png

Capitaine Jules Alexandre Milz, 1. Regiment of the `Force Publique´ had received the order from the Belgian
government in Brussels to reach an agreement with Germany. On the 30. June 1900, negotiations took place
between Capitaine Milz and Captain Heinrich Bethe of the `Schutztruppe´ in Usumbura, regarding the Belgian
advance in the Kivu-Ruzizi area. However, an agreement could not be reached at this point in time. These
border conflicts at the triangle of the Great Lakes Region, in which not only the Belgian Congo and German
East Africa, but also British Uganda were involved, that threatened to escalate temporarily persisted until 1910.

Sources :
"Le conflit frontalier germano-congolais de la Ruzizi-Kivu (1895-1910): Disputée par
l’Etat indépendant du Congo, héritée par la Belgique, gagnée par l’Allemagne", H.-J. Lecocq, 2018

"The Anglo-German-Belgian Struggles over the Great Lakes Region", In Chapter: Colonial
Invasion of Kigezi, "Politics, Religion and Power in the Great Lakes Region", Murindwa Rutanga, 2011

“Deutsch-Ost-Afrika, - Eine Schilderung deutscher Tropen nach 10 Wanderjahren“, IV. Kapitel:
Meuternde Truppen des Kongostaates, Besetzung des Russissi - Kivugebietes, Heinrich Fonck, 1910
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 03 Nov 2020 11:29


At the beginning of the GW, the `Force Publique´, including police, the Congo eastern provinces Ulele, Ituri,
Kiwu, Tanganika and Luapula had a strength of 10,895 soldiers, with 14 machine guns, 49 x 4.7-cm guns,
11 x 7.5-cm fixed positioned guns and 10 x 7.5-cm mountain guns. These forces were divided into 26 active
companies, a cycling company, and a company with artillery, a reserve corps and a recruit depot. Immediately
on the border opposite Urundi / GEA stood, end of August 1914, more than 2,000 men of the `Force Publique´.

After the withdrawal of the 6. Field-Company from Udjidji, the 9. Field-Company from Usumbura and the 11.
Field-Company from Kissenji, there were no longer any active units of the `Schutztruppe´ in the western part
of the colony. In the Urundi district there were only police units, reinforced by reservists, with a total strength
of 186 and 3 machine guns. By the end of September, all police units were transferred to the `Schutztruppe´.

End August 1914 the ratio between the `Force Publique´ and `Schutztruppe´ is at the Urundi border 10 to 1!

All units, both of the `Force Publique´ and the `Schutztruppe´, concentrated on the north and south of Urundi and
the Ruzizi River. In Usumbura there were the 55 men from the `Detachment Urundi´, which was now also part of
the `Schutztruppe´ under Captain Karl Schimmer. Furthermore, a reinforcement of the `Navy-Detachment-Möwe´
under First Lieutenant z.S. d.Sw. Konrad von Falkenhausen, with 12 sailors and 40 reactivated Askaris. (Another
12 men of the `Möwe´ under First Lieutenant z.S. Ernst Wunderlich were on their way to the Lake Kiwu) Opposite
Usumbura on Lake Tanganyika was the Belgian garrison of Fort Uvira with 375 men. In the north of Urundi there
was only one post with 15 Askaris on the German side in Schangugu, while on the Belgian side there was a force
with 325 men stationed in Nya-Lukemba (later: Costermannsville / nowadays: Bukavu). Since the indications of
an enemy landing on the coast near Tanga or Daressalaam increased to the end of 1914, the overall situation in
GEA didn´t allow the Command of the `Schutztruppe´ to send further reinforcements to Urundi or Rwanda in 1914.

In Luvungi and 17 km to the north, St. Pierre, as well as Rugombo and Tschiwitoke on the German border
side, were only occupied by a few Askaris and Ruga-Ruga until the end of 1914. The fighting’s were limited to a
few attacks and skirmishes by regional village communities on opposing territory. On the German side it seems
that after the withdrawal of the `Schutztruppe´, the influence to protect their own population threatens to disappear.

However, the Belgians could not implement their superiority at the beginning of the hostilities, due to the factors:
• German naval supremacy on Lake Tanganyika by Detachment “Möwe” and own naval forces.
• Slow communications and supplies, and sluggish reactions within the vast expanse of the Congo.
• Fast and offensive actions of the `Schutztruppe´ initially compensated for the numerical inferiority.
• Formation of tactical focal points by concentrating own troops for local offensive for counter-attacks

The fights in Urundi during the 1. WW between the `Schutztruppe´ and the `Force Publique´ took place mainly
around Luvungi and Tschiwitoke and can be divided into three phases between January and December 1915.

I. Attack –– 12. January 1915

Towards the end of 1914, clashes between unofficial and paramilitary forces increased at the central Ruzizi. To
calm things down here, First Lieutenant z.S. d.Sw. Konrad von Falkenhausen crossed the border river Ruzizi
with a small group from the `Detachment Urundi´ on 4. December 1914. This incident resulted in a shooting with
a patrol of the `Force Publique´ from Nya-Lukemba and sparked in turn further reactions from the Belgians. The
Commander of the Kivu-Ruzizi region, Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-Baptiste Josué Henry de la Lindi, had received
reinforcements from the Katanga province with the II. Battalion (30 Europeans and 698 Askaris), and with the
beginning of 1915 he had overall 3,500 men. The 3. Company of the II. Battalion, with 162 riflemen, 1 MG and a
4,7-cm-Nordenfeld Gun was now relocated to Luvungi under the command of Lieutenant Stensback Davidsen.

At the beginning of the war, Captain Karl Schimmer was Resident and military commander for Urundi in Gitega,
as well as leader of the `Detachment Urundi´. On 8. January 1915 Captain Schimmer received the order to take
Luvungi from the `Military Commander Lake Tanganyika´ Lieutenant-Commander Gustav Zimmer. At that time,
Zimmer still had military control over the districts of Rwanda, Urundi and Udjidji. This unfortunate constellation,
to give the command to a pure naval officer with no experience about local situations and fights on land in East-
Africa, was later revised by the Commando of the `Schutztruppe´ in Daressalaam.
On the German side there was also reinforcements, with the beginning of 1915, by a platoon from the 22. Field-
Company in Kigoma with 80 Askaris and 1 M.G. under Lieutenant d.R. Wilhelm Baum, arrived in Usumbura.

On the night of January 11th to 12th, 1915, Captain Schimmer and 60 Askaris advanced from Rugombo towards
the Matakabo-Ford, while First Lieutenant v. Falkenhausen intended to cross over with another 60 riflemen at the
southern Kahutu-Ford of the Ruzizi. But the night before, Lieutenant Commander Zimmer had given contradictory
instruction, which had caused some confusion. As a result, First Lieutenant v. Falkenhausen divided his southern
group and gave orders to Vice Helmsman Wilhelm Edel and 20 riflemen to attack Luvungi from the west. Captain
could no longer be informed of this change in the attack plan.

Captain Schimmer succeeded at 10:30 a.m. to penetrate the northern area of Luvungi with his group. The southern
group had suffered major delays after the Belgian guards had been warned of the shootings at the ford. When First
Lieutenant v. Falkenhausen
only appear around 10:00 a.m. in front of the first south-western positions of the (Military
?) NCOs Van Moer and Delvàux, they were in full readiness for defence. The attack got mixed up and stalled.

Around noon, Captain Schimmer, the Schauch Farag Saleh and another Askari were killed in the foremost position
in hand-to-hand combat by a counter-attack by Lieutenant Stensback Davidsen and parts of the other two platoons.
The young and inexperienced recruits could no longer be held and withdrew as quickly as possible. The three dead
could no longer be recovered from the German side. After the northern group had already withdrawn, the other two
groups were able to hold out until 3:30 p.m. In the early evening they were also able to break away from the enemy,
without further losses and withdrew.

After the death of Captain Schimmer, Captain Erich von Langenn-Steinkeller took over the position as military chief
in Urundi on 27. January 1915. Due to the double burden, this office was taken over by Captain d. Ldw. II Albrecht
on 21. March 1915, and Captain v. Langenn-Steinkeller took over the command of the `Detachment Urundi´.

German Unit: Three Groups with 120 Rifles and 2 MG
Dead: Captain Schimmer, Schauch Farag Saleh and 1 Askari
Wounded: First Lieutenant v. Falkenhausen, Vice Helmsman Edel, a further European and 6 Askaris, Missing: 1 Askari

Belgian Unit: Three Groups with 162 Rifles, one MG and one 4,7-cm-Nordenfeld gun
Dead: 6 Askaris, Wounded: 10 Askaris, Missing: 3 Askaris

Situation at Luvungi on 12. January 1915
See original Source: ... ew/7788797
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 03 Nov 2020 11:31

32_Situation Luvungi 12.01.1915.png
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 20 Nov 2020 11:48


II. Attack –– 27. September 1915

In summer 1915, fierce fighting took place in the far west of the colony, both in Rwanda at the northern end of Lake
Kivu and on the southern front at the BNR - GEA border. In contrast, the months February to July 1915 on the Ruzizi
Front between Lake Kivu and Lake Tanganyika in Urundi were quiet calm except for minor patrol skirmishes.

On 11. August 1915, a Belgian radio message was recorded in Kigoma, with a report from the Belgians on the Ruzizi
Front in 7 fortified positions with a strength of 10 Europeans, 1070 Askaris with 6 machine guns and several artillery
pieces. On 25. August, Captain Hering confirmed from Usumbura, that Belgian troops had recently passed Luvungi
on their march to the north. According to espionage reports, Lieutenant General Charles Henry Ernest Tombeur had
arrived with a battalion in Uvira on 22. August and a Belgian operation was planned against Usumbura and the Ruzizi.

Also on 25. August, Captain Hans Schulz, communications officer of the `Schutztruppe´ command, who was at this
time in Kigoma, proposed an operation in the Ruzizi Valley to forestall these Belgian plans. The Command of the
`Schutztruppe´ agreed, gave him the high command for the main Operations and promised three Field-Companies.
In addition, another Field-Company of the `Schutztruppe´ should be stationed in Usumbura to protect and shield the
entire operation against Luvungi in order to intercept a reinforcement of the `Force Publique´ from southern Uvira.

On 10. June 1915, the German steamer “Goetzen” was put into service on Lake Tanganyika. The ship carried out
the return-transport of the units of the `Schutztruppe´ from Bismarckburg to Kigoma in the first weeks of August 1915,
and was thus available for transports from Kigoma to Usumbura from the end of August. On 30. August, the 25. Field-
Company reached Usumbura by sea. On 1. September the `Detachment von Debschitz´ followed on the steamer and
on the 4. September the 22. Field-Company. The 28.- and 30. Field-Company were still armed with modern rifles on
the Central-Railway in Tabora and arrived in Kigoma only on 13. and 14. September. The 30. Field-Company was
there embarked on 20. September and arrived Usumbura the next day. The 28. Field-Company followed as the last.
After marching overland, the different units arrived Tschiwitoke and Rugombo and prepared for the attack on Luvungi.

The records of Ludwig Boell mention three Companies, as well as the `Detachment von Debschitz´, which carried
out the attack. The 28. Field-Company take an interception position at Usumbura and was not involved in the attack.
Also not the 26. Field-Company, which started on 17. August from Usumbura to cross Urundi to northern Rwanda.


How tense the issue of armament and ammunition of the `Schutztruppe´, not only in Urundi was, is shown in the
two following telegrams, which come directly from the Commando; Lieutenant-Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck.

The intention of the war on the Ruzizi is not isolated advances, but rather the permanent expulsion of the
Belgians and occupation of the area west of Ruzizi. The acquisition of weapons is very much desired, so
that the 22.Field-Company can soon be re-armed with modern Belgian rifles.
” (Belgian Fusil Mauser M 1889)

Please rearm the field companies as suggested. As rifle ammunition only the "SA" from Tanga may be used,
otherwise there will be a shortage of machine-gun ammunition. To protect against the waste of ammunition; -
removing the loading strip has proven its worth
” (- ! -)
(In consequence; - each bullet had to be loaded individually for the multi-loading, five-shot German Mauser M 1898!
Background of the "SA" Tanga ammunition: The German blockade-runner `Rubens´ arrived on 14. April 1915 the GEA
Coast with supplies for the `Schutztruppe´. The `Rubens´ was there attacked by a British cruiser and set aground by
its own crew. The majority of the loaded rifle ammunition had become damp, which later resulted in failures in shooting.
These dropouts have been accepted when the rifles were fired individually, but not by the auto-fire from machine guns.)


`Schutztruppe´ at Luvungi
Operation-Commander in front of Luvungi: Captain Hans Schulz
Adjutant: First Lieutenant z.S. d.Sw. Konrad von Falkenhausen
Staff Officer (?): First Lieutenant d.R. Dr. Edwin Niemir (He attend the operation, but unclear in which function.)
Medical Officer: Dr. Gerhard Grothusen

25. Field-Company, Commander: First Lieutenant d.L I Hans Müller
(20 Europeans, 180 Askaris, 2 M.G., armed with strong-smoke, single-shot Mauser M 1871)
I. Platoon: First Lieutenant a.D. Paul Leitner
II. Platoon: Lieutenant d.R. Otto von Scherbening
III. Platoon: Staff Sergeant d.R. August Thomsen

`Detachment von Debschitz´, Commander: First Lieutenant d.L. II Wolf von Debschitz
(Merger from parts of the `Detachment Möve´, the 22. Reserve-Company, the 10. Rifle-
Company and the `Detachment Urundi´, armed with low-smoke, five-shot Mauser M 1898)
I. Platoon (24 Europeans, 50 Askaris, 2 M.G.) First Lieutenant z.S. Job Odebrecht
II. Platoon (7 Europeans, 60 Askaris, 1 M.G.) Lieutenant d.R. Max Wentzel

22. Field-Company, Commander: Lieutenant-Commander d.R Ferdinand Jantzen
(17 Europeans, 130 Askaris, 2 M.G., armed with strong-smoke, single-shot Mauser M 1871)
I. Platoon: Lieutenant d.R. Bernhard Wunder
II. Platoon: Lieutenant d.R. Wilhelm Baum
III. Platoon: Staff Sergeant d.L. Ernst Thielemann

30. Field-Company, Commander: Captain Wilhelm Bock von Wülfingen
(17 Europeans, 179 Askaris, 2 M.G., armed with low-smoke, five-shot Mauser M 1898)
I. Platoon: Lieutenant d.R. Dr. Hans Kolewe
II. Platoon: Staff Sergeant d.R. Georg Prochnow
III. Platoon: Staff Sergeant d.R. Werner Freiherr von Stosch

`Artillery Detachment´
(1 x C 73 Field-gun, 2 x 3,7-cm Revolver-guns) Captain d.L.II Albrecht Hering

Together 94 Europeans, 616 Askaris, 9 MG, 1 x C 73 Field-gun, 2 x 3,7-cm- Revolver-guns

`Schutztruppe´ at Usumbura
28. Field-Company, Commander: First Lieutenant d.R. Alexander Herrgott (Not proved if he leads at this time the C.)
(15 Europeans, 182 Askaris, 2 M.G., armed with captured, low-smoke, eight-shot Lee-Enfield Mark I)
I. Platoon: Lieutenant d.R. Artur Heekt
II. Platoon: (- ? -)
III. Platoon: Staff Sergeant d.R. Ernst Dieterle

(Names of the Platoon-leaders are proven, but not in all cases the affiliation and numbering
of the Platoons within the Companies. These were then listed only according to the ranks.)


The results of the reconnaissance-patrols of the `Detachment von Debschitz´ showed the following strength ratios
of the Belgian `Force Publique´ side, opposite the Ruzizi-River up to the 26. September 1915.
1. – a. a.: 200 Rifles – Immediately in the `Redoute Luvungi´
2. – a. a.: 200 Rifles – 500 meters north-west, at the `Kajanga- and Ssekissanga Mountain´
3. – a. a.: 400 Rifles – 2 hours west, in the direction of Kamanjura, the II. Battalion as `Bunjenjeri-Group´

`Force Publique´ Redoute Luvungi
1. Company – II. Battalion
Company leader: First Lieutenant Lallement
Attached: Agent militaire Sandberg
Deputy (?): Lieutenant Godart
180 Askaris, 1 MG, 1 x 4,7-cm-Nordenfeld-gun

` Force Publique´ Kajanga- and Ssekissanga Mountain
2. Company – VI. Battalion
Company leader: First Lieutenant (?)
4 Europeans, 200 Askaris, 1 MG

`Force Publique´ Bunjenjeri Group
II. Battalion
Commandant: Major Muller
Attached: Lieutenant Labrique, Agent militaire Olsen
10 Snipers

2. Company – II. Battalion
Commandant: First Lieutenant Pieters
Deputy: Lieutenant (?)
90 Askaris

3. Company – II. Battalion
Commandant: First Lieutenant Henry
Attached: Lieutenant Chanal, Lieutenant Boukaert (Platoon-leaders?)
120 Askaris

1. Company – VI. Battalion
Commandant: First Lieutenant Boulouffe
Deputy: Lieutenant (?)
136 Askaris

M.-G. Detachment – II. Battalion
Commandant: First Lieutenant Harmel
16 Europeans + Askaris, 3 Colt-Machine-guns

Artillery Detachment – II. Battalion
2 x 7,5-cm-Krupp guns, 2 x 4,7-cm-Nordenfeld-guns

Together 750 Rifles, 5 MG, 2 x 7,5-cm-Krupp guns, 3 x 4,7-cm-Nordenfeld-guns

Furthermore the 3. Company from the VII. Battalion of the `Force Publique´, tried to intervene from Uvira with 2
Europeans and 150 Askaris on the 27. September. After the advance of a platoon of the 28. Field-Company from
Usumbura, the Belgian Company withdrew to the western edge mountains. The German detachment did not follow,
but also withdrew to its starting position at the `Little Ruzizi´, at the estuary into Lake Tanganyika.


The Ruzizi River was at the intended three crossing points of the `Schutztruppe´, 80 meters wide and was very rapid.
The original attack date was set for 19. September. Due to the short-term special flooding, unfavourable full moon
conditions and the lack of transportation material (Aluminium-boats and useful, especially large and strong dugouts),
the date had to be postponed by 10 days. During this waiting period, the presence of these troops could no longer be
concealed from the Belgians.

The German plan of attack stipulated that Luvungi would be enclosed from the North, West and South on the night of
26.-27. September. But the main objective, was to attack and defeat relief troops coming from Bunjenjeri in the West.

In the North, the 25. Field-Company, with Captain Schulz, was supposed to face this main enemy with its right wing,
as well as the Belgian Company from the Kajanga- and Ssekissanga mountains. The danger here was of having to
fight on two opposing fronts. In the West, the `Department of Debschitz´ had the task to take up a defensive position
against the Bunjenjeri opponents and preventing the crew from escaping from the `Redoute Luvungi´. Here, too, the
situation was such that a front to the west and east could arise at the same time. In the South, the 22.- and 30. Field-
Companies was supposed to attack the fortifications of Luvungi, but mainly to concentrate on the Bunjenjeri enemy
in the west and attack them vigorously. In this southern group, unofficially called `Detachment von Bock´, both 3.7-cm-
revolver guns should be brought along. Due to the great terrain difficulties, the heavy C-73 field gun has to remain on
the eastern bank, and to fire on the fortification of Luvungi, the only static, immobile component in this confusing area.


00:01 a.m. – 04:00 a.m.
On the evening of the 26. September, the `Detachment von Debschitz´ and the 25. Field-Company started the march
from Rugombo and began at midnight with the crossing of the Ruzizi-River at the northernmost, Matakambo-Ford with
the aluminium boat and further wooden-canoes. At 02:00 a.m. the `Platoon Wentzel´ was the first unit which cross over
to the west bank and secured the crossing point. `Platoon Odebrecht´ followed, and the `Detachment von Debschitz´
marched afterwards together, first westwards, then southwards. After the Luvungi - Bunjenjeri path has been reached,
west of the fortification, a defensive position, facing against Bunjenjeri were prepared. At the same crossing point, the
25. Field-Company followed close at 4:00 a.m. and took up the position assigned to it, north of the Luvungi fortification.
Until this time, no shot had been fired on this northern and western front.

04:00 a.m. – 06:00 a.m.
Both together, the 22.- and 30. Field-Companies, coming from Tschiwitoke, crossed over at the Mogabo-Ford, south-east
of the fortification of Luvungi, and marched then into the north-west direction. At dawn, both Companies reached the ford
across the Luvungi River, which passed 300 meters south of the fortress, and flowing, from west to east, into the Ruzizi.
Here, the tip of the units, received fire from a Belgian post and with the first shot of the approaching day, Militia-Member
Josef Hürstel
of the 30. Field-Company was fatally hit. Captain B. v. Wülfingen let the 30. F.-C. take up position south of
the Luvungi and made no further move to cross the river bed. The two 3.7-cm-Revolver Guns had also been brought
across the Ruzizi River with great difficulty and also took up position south of the fortification. By order of Captain B. v.
, the 22. Field-Company had to send its two machine guns to the 30.F.K and swing with a right angle to the 30.
F.-C. one, with front to the West. Captain B. v. Wülfingen, who was responsible for the 30.- and 22. Field-Company as
Detachment leader, left the 22. Field-Company in this position instead of giving orders to advance further to the West.
The entire crew of the Luvungi fortification was alerted by the shots of the Belgian post and fired two cannon shots with its
4,7-cm-Nordenfeld Gun, as a warning signal for the Bunjenjeri troops. Now the 30.Field-Company started also to fire with
four M.G. and the two 3.7-cm-Revolver Guns and the C 73 Field Gun under Captain Hering began to bombard Luvungi
from the opposite side of the Ruzizi-River.
“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 20 Nov 2020 12:18

33_Luvungi at 6 a.m. on 27.09.1915.png
Original Source: ... ew/7788851

06:00 a.m. – 08:00 a.m.
At the same time the Belgian Platoon under Sous-Lieutenant Boukaert left the Luvungi fortification and collided head-on
with the `Platoon Odebrecht´, where this unit was mostly shot down. Due to the noise of the battle at 06:00 a.m. south-
east of him, `Platoon Wentzel´, of `Department von Debschitz´ assumed that the attack had already started everywhere.
However, he was unable to attack the nearest, eastern enemy position, due to the uncovered terrain and heavy Machine-
Gun-fire. At 07:45 am, Lieutenant-Commander Jantzen, 22. Field-Company, received from his platoon leader, Lieutenant
the message that the Bunjenjeri-Group was advancing with 400 Riflemen from the west. At 8:30 a.m. the enemy
had come 600 meters closer without noticing anything from the Germans. Lieutenant-Commander Jantzen, without his
two M.G., proceeded unanimously against the valley floor in which the enemy was lying. When the firefight that started
now, the disadvantage of the strong-smoke armament of the Germans, compared to the modern rifles of the Belgians,
became clear. When these units of the `Force Publique´ tried, covered by the many ravines and folds in the terrain, to
advance further, Lieutenant-Commander Jantzen led his III. Platoon himself and threw this enemy back. The original
Platoon leader, Staff Sergeant d.L. Ernst Thielemann, still remained, by the order of Captain Bock v. Wülfingen as M.G.
Gunner, at the position of the 30. Field Company.

08:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Captain Schulz, who was north of the 25. Field Company, heard at 9:00 a.m. violent battle noise, from the south-west.
As a confirmation he received a report from the `Detachment von Debschitz´ that the Bunjenjeri-Group attacked there.
Immediately he ordered the I. Platoon, under First Lieutenant Leitner and the II. Platoon, Lieutenant v. Scherbening, to
proceed in this direction. Captain Schulz let the III. Platoon, under Staff Sergeant Thomsen also follow, but kept it as a
reserve in the old positions, in order to keep the crew of the Luvungi fortification busy. After 1,500 meters in a South-
Western direction, the first Platoon encountered a Belgian first aid station which had been abandoned by the medical
personnel in the direction of Bunjenjeri. After crossing the path Luvungi-Bunjenjeri, Lieutenant v. Scherbening, headed
eastwards towards Luvungi. After another 800 meters, he saw a strong opponent coming towards him. This opponent,
presumably believe that this was rear parts of the `Detachment v. Debschitz´, attacked. The enemy received further
support from the fortification by M.G.-fire, which stopped further advance of the Platoon. Lieutenant von Scherbening,
asked his Company commander, First Lieutenant Müller, for further assistance. The III. Platoon, under Staff Sergeant
August Thomsen
intervened now from the north. The 1. M.G., operated by Machinist-Mate Jules Grimm, opened very
successfully, with continuous fire from the southern flank on this enemy, who withdrew then. Lieutenant v. Scherbening,
was now isolated with his Platoon and set up with the front facing to the east, west and south. Captain Schulz operation
commander, appeared at this group and received information from Lieutenant von Scherbening about the situation. By
and large, the situation did not change in the next few hours at this position.

34_Luvungi at 9 a.m. on 27.09.1915.png

The Belgian Askaris of the Bunjenjeri group knew how to use the hilly terrain very skilfully, were armed with low-smoke
rifles, and excellent marksmen. They aimed primarily the M.G.- gunner and porters of the `Schutztruppe´. The Platoon
leader, First Lieutenant Leitner, of the 25. Field-Company, was fatally shot in the head on the second M.G. The second
M.G.- gunner, Chief-Stocker Josef Wolf, received also a forearm- and further leg shot and most of the M.G. carriers had
also fallen to the ground. Then the corresponding positions of the hidden Belgian riflemen were fired by the first own M.G.
fire, whereby these shooters in the trees were shot down.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
In the west, on the way between Luvungi to Bunjenjeri, the situation of the `Detachment v. Debschitz´ had meanwhile
become threatening. The II. `Platoon Wentzel´ was now also shot from the western enemy from 10:00 a.m. on. They got
more and more into a crossfire and had at the same time no connection with First Lieutenant von Debschitz. The losses
were already: 1 European, (Private Karl August Jope) and 3 Askaris dead, 6 Askaris wounded. Lieutenant Wentzel was
forced to withdraw slowly to the North-West. There he met the orderly officer First Lieutenant von Falkenhausen who had
been sent by Captain Schulz and was with the II. Platoon, under Lieutenant Wunder. Here it turned out that none of the
officers in this northern group had an overview of the overall situation. Only from the noise of the battle they did suspect
that the Bunjenjeri opponent must have managed to break through, to the Luvungi fortification and with that, the operation
had thus failed.

35_Luvungi at 12 a.m. on 27.09.1915.png

12:00 a.m. – 02:00 p.m.
Captain Bock v. Wülfingen, leader of the 30. Field-Company, had set the Platoon under Lieutenant Kolewe to the Yellow
House (In Belgian source: Kraal), south of the Luvungi fortification. At the same time he gave orders to the 22. Field-
Company to follow the `Platoon Kolewe´ with the other two platoons. This order reached Lieutenant Commander Jantzen,
but only 2 hours later, as he was now in combat with the Bunjenjeri opponent. The 22. Field-Company then broke away
from this enemy and advanced into the river valley of the Luvungi. But the river could only be waded through individually.
The further advance was also held back by the very dense bushes. Captain Bock v. Wülfingen then called Lieutenant
Commander Jantzen
to himself. Under the leadership of First Lieutenant Niemir, the two platoons of 22. Field-Company
merged, soon afterwards, with the Platoon Kolewe of 30. Field-Company heading north. (Wülfingen had probably relieved
Jantzen of his command?! A collaboration between both had already been very difficult at the beginning of the operation.)

02:00 p.m. – 05:00 p.m.
Captain Bock v. Wülfingen had the whole day no contact with his superior, Captain Schulz and the other units to the west
and north of Luvungi. Shortly after 03:00 p.m. he therefore ordered that the platoons of 22. Field-Company, now under First
Lieutenant Niemir
and Platoon Kolewe, should withdraw. In the afternoon, at 05:30 p.m. Captain Bock v. Wülfingen march
back with his Detachment, the 30.- and 22. Field-Company, and via the Ruzizi straight to the German territory. He didn´t
inform his superior, Captain Schulz or any other Troop-leaders about this retreat. One of the reasons for the decision to
withdraw is said to have been that M.G. Ammunition was running out and that the troops carried food for only one day.

05:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Since Captain Schulz could no longer hear the noise of the battle south of the Luvungi fortification towards evening, he
ordered Lieutenant von Scherbening to break off the battle and to move slowly away from the enemy. When the enemy
noticed that the Platoon von Scherbening was retreating, he increased his fire to prevent it. In consequence, Lieutenant v.
was forced to reactive his M.G. again, and the opponent first had to be driven out of the bushes at Luvungi.
A patrol to First Lieutenant von Debschitz reported that the Detachment B. v. Wülfingen had really marched to the south.
Under these circumstances, Captain Schulz felt compelled to withdraw also the remaining parts of the detachment back
to the eastern side of the Ruzizi. They gathered to the west of the position and then started to march northwards. The
wounded and dead had been already been transported to the Eastern direction. Only a small part of the Belgian booty
could be carry back: 12 modern rifles with 2,700 cartridges. In the evening, at around 10:00 p.m., Captain Schulz and the
25. Field-Company under First Lieutenant Müller had arrived back at the ford across the Ruzizi.

The Platoon Odebrecht, with First Lieutenant von Debschitz, had been in action the whole day about 200 meters in front
of the fortification Luvungi. The fights of the 25. Field-Company, which took place north-east, was on the other side of a
thick strip of bush, but was clearly understandable by the noise of the battle. First Lieutenant von Debschitz was also able
to observe clearly the withdrawal of the Detachment B. v. Wülfingen, towards the South-East. But he suspected, that this
Detachment would only take a rear position for the night. To be certain, First Lieutenant von Debschitz himself went over
the Luvungi River to this Detachment. There he met, just in time, the rear guard of the Detachment and was informed that
Captain Bock von Wülfingen had actually marched off. At 10:00 p.m. the Platoons Wentzel and Odebrecht met with First
Lieutenant von Debschitz
, north of the fortification and marched together to the ferry station across the Ruzizi. On the
morning of the 28. September, at 3:00 a.m. early, the Platoon Odebrecht set across the river as the last German unit.
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Re: German War Graves & Cemetery in Burundi / GEA

Post by Tanzania » 20 Nov 2020 12:23


31 Dead:
First Lieutenant a.D. Paul Leitner (25. Field-Company)
War Volunteer Albert Prillwitz (25. Field-Company)
Private d.L. Karl August Jope (Detachment von Debschitz)
Militia-Member Josef Hürstel (30. Field-Company)
20 Askaris, 6 M.G.-Carrier, 1 Boy

41 Badly wounded:
Lieutenant d.R. Wilhelm Baum (22. Field-Company)
Staff Sergeant d.R. Georg Prochnow (30. Field-Company)
Staff Sergeant d.R. August Thomsen (25. Field-Company)
Chief-Stocker Josef Wolf, (22.Field-Company)
Stocker Joseph Stawicki (25. Field-Company)
36 Askaris, 1 M.G.-Carrier, 2 Boys

19 Light wounded, but fit for service.
Captain Hans Schulz (Detachment Commander)
Medical Officer: Dr. Gerhard Grothusen
Lieutenant d.R. Bernhard Wunder (25. Field-Company)
Staff Sergeant d.R. d.L. Ernst Thielemann (22. Field-Company)
Sergeant d.L. Friedrich Wilhelm Stuhr (25. Field-Company)
14 Askaris, (1 Askari Missing)

The main losses were suffered by the Platoon Scherbening and the M.G.s of the 25. Field-Company:
2 Europeans, 14 Askaris, 6 M.G.- carriers, dead. Seriously wounded: 2 Europeans, 12 Askaris.

Of the four dead Europeans, only First Lieutenant Leitner's body could not be transported to German territory.
Unfortunately, there are currently neither names nor numbers available for the German Askaris. It can only be
assumed here that the majority of the dead were also transported via the Ruzizi and buried in Rugombo. All
other were buried in, by the Belgians after 1917 onwards. These graves can be found in today's cemetery.

`Force Publique´
Europeans: (Figures differ between 1 to 9 deaths)
First Lieutenant Lallement
Askaris (Figures differ between 35 to 90 deaths)

Europeans: 2
Askaris: (Figures differ between 48 to 60 injured)

Ludwig Boell mentioned in his book, (Not in his manuscript):
“After all, the Belgian losses at 17.4% were 7.6% higher than the German ones.”


Both opponents were basically equally strong. Whereby the military directive in standard works specifies that the
attacker should generally always have three times the superiority in order to achieve a resounding success. Both
sides were also clear about the strength and position of the respective opponent. The 10-day delay in the date of
the attack gave both parties enough time to clarify and obtain information through statements from the locals. Both,
Schutztruppe and Force Publique are very handicapped, because of the extremely confusing terrain with its deep
cuts. It was very difficult to advance or react quickly in the battle for Luvungi; if not entirely prevented.

Entire companies were able to advance here without enemy insight and / or take up defensive positions that suddenly
appeared. This restriction did not only affect the opponents, but also the own connection and communication between
the units. The German groups in the north, west and south could not establish any connection with each other during
the whole day. Certainly the noise of the battle could be heard from different directions. Even the dull tone of the old
German Mauser M 71 models could be distinguished from the more rapid, brighter bang of the faster Belgian and a
few modern German rifles; but that was all. The whole fight slipped more and more into small and very small individual
fights, into all-round skirmishes and advances by individual units. The overview was lost for all troop leaders. Neither
knew what the other was doing or where he was.

Due to the more detailed German battle report, the effect on the German side is also much clearer. One of the decisive
reasons for breaking off the engagement was the fact that the southern group left at 5:30 p.m. the battle field. Captain
Bock von Wülfingen
acted here irresponsibly; without taking care about the other troops or informing his superior, he
left the battlefield. In view of the tense personnel situation of the `Schutztruppe´, there was no disciplinary procedure.

It is also noticeable that there were still too few European subordinates and officers at the 'Force Publique', which resulted
in a ratio of 1:65 for Luvungi. The young European sub-leaders, were in some cases very inexperienced and not familiar
with the conditions, whereas the Belgian Askaris proved themselves very well. In the `Schutztruppe´ the ratio between
Europeans and Askaris in the units was 1: 9.

Main Sources :

"Les campagnes Coloniales Belges 1914 - 1918", Tome I, Introduction,
La période défensive à la frontière orientale, Chapitre II, Les opérations du groupe sud (groupe Olsen), 1927

"Biographie Coloniale Belge", Tome I, From A to Z, Bruxelles, Georges van Campenhout, Succ, 1948

“Der Feldzug in Ostafrika 1914-1918“, Unveröffentlichtes Originalmanuskript, Ludwig Boell, Nachlassakte
N 14 / 4; – II. Band; – 9. Kapitel: “Die Ereignisse an der Urundi - Grenze vom Kriegsausbruch bis Mai 1916“

"Das Offizierskorps der Schutztrupp für DOA im Weltkrieg 1914-1918", W.-E Maillard u. J. Schröder, 2003

"Deutsches Kolonialblatt" Verlustliste u. Personalangaben der DKB-Bände 1916 bis 1918, Berlin 1916-1918

"Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Zeitung" und "Amtlicher Anzeiger für DOA", 5. bis 29. Oktober 1915, Morogoro 1915
“Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. . . . All History was a
palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary” – G. ORWELL 1984

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