Novelist: Rudolf de Haas

Rudolf de Haas is another of those novelists to come to light following a search for something else – and he’s a prolific writer of the First World War in Africa – by all accounts he got his inspiration from his time as a prisoner of war in Egypt talking to other prisoners, one of whom was Hans Moll, a police constable from Mpapua in German East Africa

1870 – born in the Rhineland
1900 – In Australia
1909 – marries Thea Gnade and honeymoons in Africa (Tunisia)
1912 – Pastorate in Thuringia (Lutheran minister)
1914 – before the war, is sent on a trip to German East Africa as a Mitglied des Deutschen Flottenvereins und der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft (member of the German Navy Association and Colonial Society). His wife and Theodor Klinkhardt accompany him. Rudolf is to give talks on the German Empire.
1914 – August, War breaks out. Rudolf and Theodor are drafted into Schutztruppe.
1916 – taken prisoner, sent to Maadi Camp near Cairo. Thea is interned with other German women in Dar es Salaam
1944 – died
1976 – Thea died

Books on World War 1

  • Der jüngste Reiter (1923) – (The Youngest Rider) has a dedication to Hans Moll with 24 pages of information, pictures and postcards about police constable Hans Moll (Molinäus), compiled by his great-nephew Hans-Heinrich Moll. Theodor is the youngest rider in the Schutztruppe. Rudolf appears under the name Konrad.
  • Theodor de Reiter (1922)
  • Der Wilderer von Deutsch-Ost (1927)
  • Im Sattel für Deutsch-Ost (1927) – 1914
  • Askaritreue (1925) – 1914
  • Das Opfer der Wagogo (1927) – 1916 Summer
  • Die Meuterer (1927) – 1916
  • Der Löwe von Mosambik (1925) – 1917
  • Der Elefantenjäger van der Merwe (1925)
  • Der Pflanzer im Kalundatal (1928)
  • Im Hochlande der Riesenkrate (1923)
  • Piet Neuwenhuizen: Der Pfadfinder Lettow-Vorbecks (1921)


Brian Smith on Rudolf de Haas


Novelist: Marie Luise Droop

In 1934, Marie Luise Droop wrote Kwa Heri, a novel about the war in East Africa. I’ve not been able to find a copy of the book which I came to know of through the film, Die Reiter von Deutsch-Ostafrika which was based on the novel. The film premiered on 19 October 1934 and after various showings was banned on 19 December 1939 as it was believed too favourable to the British. This was Marie Luise’s second last film.

1890 – 15 January, born Marie Martha Luise Fritsch in Stettin
1906 – attended Anglo-Continental School in Folkestone, England
1907 – worked as an editor
1914 – was in Denmark for the war while her husband served in the German army
1920 – started film company, she wrote 35 films from 1918, and produced/directed four
1934 – 19 October, premier of Die Reiter von Deutsch-Ostafrica. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck attends
1959 – 22 August, died Gengenbach, Germany

Novels on WW1 Africa:

1934 – Kwa Heri ; film Die Reiter von Deutsch-Ostafrica


Rolf Giesen (2015) Nazi Propaganda films
Wikipedia (German) (English)
The horsemen of East Africa

Novelist: Alfred Funke

Albert Funke was a theologian, journalist and writer. He wrote a great many books including biographies and a few war novels, mostly about South America.

1869 – 22 April born in Wellinghofen/Kreis Dortmund
1896 – Brazil
1901 – Germany
1902-1908 – time in Brazil and Africa
1908 – back in Germany, undertaking further studies and teaching
1915 – publishes Im Banne des deutschen Adlers kriegsroman which mentions Heligoland, Zanzibar in a war-time novel (which war, I could not tell – the title translates to “Under the spell of the German eagle war”)
1922 – moves to Berlin-Friedenau
1941 – died in Berlin-Friedenau

Books on WW1 Africa

Schwarz-weiss-rot über Ostafrika : Roman (1933) – it looks as though this was done in partnership with Walter Dobbertin (photographer)


Background including list of books

DNB List of books

Novelist: Hans Grimm

This has been one of those amazing yet frustrating finds. Having picked up on Der Ölsucher von Duala as being a World War One novel published in 1933 and slotted it into place, in researching about Hans, it materialised that he had at least three other books about the war published earlier. It’s frustrating as it throws my chronology of authors out of sync, but wonderful as more novels of the time have come to light. Now to brush up my German reading skills…

Hans Grimm had spent some time in Port Elizabeth and East London in about 1908 and then in 1910 was in German South West Africa as journalist for Tägliche Rundschau. George Danton mentions he served on the German front during the war before becoming an interpreter for the Foreign Office. He wrote numerous books based in Africa.

1875 – born in Wiesbaden, 22 March
1908 – Port Elizabeth and East London in South Africa
1910 – German South West Africa
1914 – War service in Germany
1917 – Writer for German Colonial Office
1920s – toured German South West Africa
1959 – died Lippoldsberg, 29 September

Books on World War 1

Der Gang durch den Sand (1916) – set in GSWA (summary)
Die Olewagen-Sagen (1918) – set in GSWA (summary and excerpt)
Volk ohne Raum (1926) – touches on East, West and South West Africa. For a breakdown of what is covered see Danton
Der Ölsucher von Duala. Ein afrikanisches Tagebuch (1933, although Namibiana suggests 1918 as his first commissioned book by the German Colonial Office.

Sources and other bits

Folk Dance and Safari – some thoughts on Hans Grimm’s photographs from South West Africa

Novelist: Balder Olden

Balder Olden is the first non-English author of the war in Africa. He was in the German East Africa as a reporter joining the Schutztruppe on the outbreak of war which he recounts in his novel, Kilimanjaro translated into English in 1922. His war experiences were further explored in two later novels. Both Balder and his brother Rudolf were anti-left and writers, both managing to escape being arrested by the Nazis.

1882 – 26 March, Born in Zwickau
1914 – In Tanzania, joined the Schutztruppe
1916 – became a British prisoner of war until 1920
1940 – interned in Paris, flees to Marseilles and then to Argentina
1943 – moves to Montevideo, Uruguay
1944 – marries
1949 – 29 October, Dies Montevideo

Books on WW1 Africa

Kilimandscharo, 1921; English version 1922
Madumas Vater, 1928 (translation)
On Virgin Soil, 1930

Project Gutenberg
Letter from German Exile Archive