Geschichte 02 Geschichte 03 Geschichte 04 Geschichte 05 Geschichte 06 Geschichte 07 Geschichte 08 Geschichte 01
Adolf Lüderitz and
the "Mile Swindle"

The bay of Luederitz in the south of Namibias had been discovered in the year 1488 by the Portuguese seafarer Bartholomëu Diaz who called it Angra Pequeña and erected one of the stone crosses, called "Padrãos", he had taken along on his ship, to symbolise Portugal's claim on the discovered coasts. An occupation of the land through the Portuguese crown never happened, however.

In the year 1883 the trader and tobacco merchant Adolf Lüderitz from Bremen bought the bay from the Nama chief Joseph Fredericks from Bethanien. The price was 10.000 Marks and 260 rifles. Included in the price was the land in a perimeter of 20 miles around the bay. Only after the Nama chief had signed the contract, it was explained to him that not the normal English landmile was meant (1 mile = 1,8 km), but the Prussian geographic mile (1 mile = 7,5 km). Fredericks lost almost his entire tribal land through this betrayal.

In the year 1884, the German Empire took over the protection of Lüderitz's property. A small corps of the imperial marine landed in the bay and hoisted the German flag. The foundation for a German colony 'German South-West Africa' was laid.


Adolf Lüderitz didn't derive much joy from his possessions. the expected resources - copper, gold, silver - were nowhere to be found. Drilling for water didn't show results. Drinking water had to be imported by ship from Cape Town. The financial means soon were exhausted and Lüderitz had to sell his liitle empire to the "German Colonial Society". During an expedition in 1886, Adolf Lüderitz drowned in the Oranje river. His body was never found.