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”.


LOCATION GITEGA
01_Location Gitega with two graves.png
Source: http://www.denkmalprojekt.org/2020/gite ... 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
Wintgens
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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“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 » 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
Thomas
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: https://www.iwacu-europe.org/pierre-ryc ... proverbes/


The same building and perspective nowadays (?) as a prison or police station.
07_Boma Gitega.png
Original Source: https://www.flickr.com/map/?fLat=-3.421 ... 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:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/caligula0 ... 49085@N21/
https://www.petitfute.com/medias/photo/ ... 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): http://www.burundinet.org/download/stra ... 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: https://www.jimbere.org/gitega-capitale ... 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.)
https://www.flickr.com/map?&fLat=-3.423 ... 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: https://burunditour.com/the-gitega-germ ... -the-boma/

So where is now the highest hill inside Gitega?
https://www.alltrails.com/de/explore?b_ ... 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: https://www.memoireonline.com/10/13/762 ... 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:
https://www.google.de/maps/place/Gitega ... 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


BUILDING No. 2
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: https://www.jimbere.org/gitega-capitale ... lonisation


BUILDING No. 3
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

https://brema.suub.uni-bremen.de/dsdk/c ... fo/2071671
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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 14:39

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: https://scholastiquemukasonga.net/fr/un ... a-lecture/


22_Gitega-German Colonial building 1.jpg
Online source: https://www.petitfute.co.uk/v48512-gite ... ue/photos/
23_Gitega-German Colonial building 1.jpg
Online source: https://www.travel-images.com/pht/burundi60.jpg


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
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

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