German War Graves & Cemetery in Rwanda / GEA?

Discussions on all aspects of the German Colonies and Overseas Expeditions. Hosted by Chris Dale.
User avatar
Tanzania
Member
Posts: 534
Joined: 04 Jun 2009 13:59
Location: Germany

German War Graves & Cemetery in Rwanda / GEA?

Post by Tanzania » 18 Jul 2020 20:04

German War Graves & Cemetery in Rwanda / GEA?

Due to the relatively limited period of 6 weeks for our tour to East Africa next
year I would like to prepare as well as possible with your help, in advance.
One reason is, of course, the discovery, the visit and thus the honourable memory
of those of all who are involved at that time, as well as their graves and cemeteries.

Because of the rather long fighting 1914 - 1916 between the “Schutztruppe” and
the “Force Publique”, I am surprised that there is only One German grave mentioned.

German Landsturm (Militia-member), Fulpontius Mechau who was buried in Mbirisi.
Source: http://www.denkmalprojekt.org/2020/mibi ... uanda.html

The former German Ambassador of the CAR and Rwanda, Reinhart Bindseil mentioned
already 1988 in his book: “ Ruanda und Deutschland seit den Tagen Richard Kandts”,
on page 235: “Historische Spuren deutschen Wirkens in Ruanda

Mibiriz (rund 12 km südöstlich von Cyangugu): Zwischen Kirche und Hospital liegt das
Kriegsgrab des deutschen Soldaten Fulpontius Mechau, gef.: 21.April 1916. Mit neuer
Grabplatte versehen am Volkstrauertag der BR Deutschland, 16. Nov.1986.“

Gisenyi (1906-1916 deutscher Militärposten): Grab des deutschen Soldaten Johannes Plaen
(geb.: 01.03.1888, gest.: 19.10.1912). Vom Präfektur Gebäude gehe man Richtung Hotel
Meridian, alsbald zweigt links eine Pistenstraße ab, der etwa 100 m zu folgen ist, dann
Abzweigung nach rechts (Rue Vétérinaire), nach weiteren 50 m linker Hand das Grab;
renoviert 1985, die alte Grabplatte wurde jedoch erhalten. Ein altes Gebäude der nahe-
liegenden tierärztlichen Station weist in bestimmten Details typische Züge der deutschen
Vorkriegsarchitektur auf.“


The `Online project of memorials for GEA´, however listed Nine members of the
“Schutztruppe” who were killed in action and/or buried in four locations in Rwanda.
I have listed the names geographically from north to south depending on the location.

German War Graves in Rwuanda_1377.png
Original Source: http://www.denkmalprojekt.org/2014/brem ... frika.html

There exists also, albeit somewhat emotional, sounding text passages about the
German-American volunteer Georg Moritz Kramer:
“Aus dem Kongo traf, ebenso gefeit gegen die englischen und belgischen Steckbriefe
wie berühmt als Abenteurer und Elefantenjäger, der Deutschamerikaner Kramer als
Kriegsfreiwilliger ein. Von seiner Tollkühnheit erzählten sich beide Tanganjika-Ufer
die lustigsten Geschichten. Er wurde leider hier von den meisten scheel angesehen,
weil sein romantisches Wilddiebsleben den Federfuchsern nicht passte, und doch
atmete seine Herrennatur mehr herbe Männlichkeit und wahres Menschentum aus
als die ganze Blase seiner heimlichen Neider. Mir war das entschlossene Gesicht
diese sehnigen Mannes von vornherein sympathisch. Sein früher Soldatentod raubte
der Truppe leider einen unschätzbaren Patrouillengänger und Scharfschützen.“

Source: “Kumbuke, Kriegserlebnisse eines Arztes in Deutsch-Ostafrika“
von August Hauer, Berlin 1935, page 28 / 29


Dr. Hauer was head of the sleeping sickness control on Lake Tanganyika and met Kramer
in Usumbura on August 21, 1914. Hauer was later doctor in the “Schutztruppe” until 1917.

Pastor Karl Roehl also mentioned volunteer Kramer in his book on page 97
and confirmed that there was a German hospital on the island of Mugarura.
Source: http://idb.ub.uni-tuebingen.de/opendigi/FoXXIV371#p=115


THE FOUR LOCATIONS

I. Kissenji / Gisenyi (renamed nowadays: Rubavu)
Reinhart Bindseil’s location description for Johannes Plaen should make the search easier.
However, what is strange: there is still a grave from 1912; but no other graves between 1914
and 1916 are mentioned. If there were such graves, they would surely have been found in a
city like Gisenyi (Rubavu). At least that suggests that there are no clues nowadays.


II. Insel Mugarura / Island Bugarura
The island of Bugarura was never a theatre of war during WWI. The island was fortified, used
as headquarter and location for a hospital. The Catholic pastor, Brother Privatus , who served
also in the “Schutztruppe” as Jakob Brauchle, also reports in his notes:
“ . . Zwischen dem See, der Mündung der Sebeya und dem Hügel Rubavu hatte die deutsche
Militärverwaltung die Fest Kissenji angelegt. In gleicher Weise ließ Wintgens am Südende des
Sees einen Platz befestigen der den Namen Changugu führte. Nachdem so die Nord- und
Südecke geschützt schien, setzte sich Wintgens zunächst auf einer Insel des Kiwu fest,
die Bugarura hieß, ließ sie befestigen und Lebensmittel und Geld dorthin schaffen. . . “

Source: “Ruanda und die Deutschen, Missionare als Zeitzeugen der Kolonialgeschichte“
Hans-Ulrich Duwendag, Wolfgang Völker, LIT Verlag Berlin 2017, page 129

With a length of 3 km, Bugarura is the second largest Rwandan island on Lake Kivu after Nkombo.
The island was not affected by fighting during the war. Bugarura occupies a strategic position on
the lake, but is otherwise quite outside of traffic infrastructure. In addition, no construction measures
were carried out later, such as at the Gisenyi site. This also increases the likelihood of finding any
graves there today.
Google position: https://www.google.de/maps/dir///@-1.91 ... m2!4m1!3e0

III. Bethel Mission Rubengera / Hospital Lubengera
The Lutheran Mission Station, Rubengera was founded in 1909 by Pastor Karl Roehl, was
also a hospital for all involved parties and prisoner of war camp during the First World War.
The Rubengera mission station is very well known in Rwanda. That's why I'm sure that
historically interested people have been already there in the past. Since there are no further
indications so far, I also suspect that there are no more graves from German times.
Google position: https://www.google.de/maps/search/Ruand ... a=!3m1!1e3


IV. Mbirisi; - Nyakarenzo sector; - Ruzizi district
Mbirisi was one of the last pre-war Catholic Mission station which was founded by
the `White Fathers´. This small village in the south-west corner of Rwanda, and the
location of the grave between the Church and Hospital could be identified real easy.
Google position: https://www.google.de/maps/place/Cathol ... 28.9563668

The following is knowning about the grave and name in Mbirisi. The somewhat unusual name:
Fulpontius (not Fulgentins) Mechau is a mix of names. His baptismal name was Arthur Mechau
and he worked later as a missionary for the 'White Fathers', under the Catholic name Brother
Fulpontius
until May 1914 in the Nyundo Mission (East / north-east of Gisenyi). Until August
1914 he worked at the Bushiru / Rambura mission station, also in the north-west of Rwanda,
before he was transferred to Schangugu and remained there with the small unit there. With
this he participated in the German attacks on Luwungi, opposite the Ruzizi in Belgian-Congo.

The name Arthur Mechau also appears in other sources. Here it is reported that as a result of
the Belgian offensive in March 1916, the Schangugu post under the Private d.R. Rudolf Leipert
with 50 rifles was attacked on 21. April 1916 by the 1st company of the 2nd Belgian Battalion,
but could be repulsed. In addition to 12 wounded German Askaris, Arthur Mechau lost his life.
Source: “The Operations in East Africa”, Ludwig Boell, 1951, page 261

A further preliminary source are his notes, also with the events of the years
1914-1916 in Schangugu, which appeared posthumously in November 1926
In the German paper `Afrika-Boten´ of the `White Fathers´ in Trier / Germany.

Further Source: `Spurensuche in Ruanda´ Ernst Schäfer und Gusti Erdel, 2015
https://www.blick-aktuell.de/Andernach/ ... 72175.html


Does any of you know other sources in which I can further research about the graves?

I would appreciate any information and with this support on this topic. Some who know
me well, know that I have not any commercial interests and publish all information here!

Image . . . Image . . . Image . . . Image

Cheers Holger
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
“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

Return to “German Colonies and Overseas Expeditions”