Theodor Leutwein

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Theodor Leutwein (photo taken between 1894 and 1904)
Theodor Leutwein

Theodor Gotthilf Leutwein (born May 9, 1849 in Strümpfelbrunn , today the municipality of Waldbrunn , Baden , † April 13, 1921 in Freiburg im Breisgau ) was commander of the Imperial Protection Force and governor of German South West Africa from 1895 to 1905 .


Theodor Leutwein was born as the third child of the evangelical pastor Adam Leutwein and Sophie geb. Hanser born. He went to high school in Konstanz and then studied law for two semesters in Freiburg im Breisgau . Here he became a member of the Alemannia Freiburg fraternity in 1867 .

In 1868 Leutwein joined the 5th Baden Infantry Regiment No. 113 as a flag junior and was promoted to lieutenant in October 1869 . He experienced the Franco-German War of 1870/71 as an adjutant of a Landwehr battalion. In 1885 he was promoted to captain and company commander. From 1879 to 1882 Leutwein was at the Berlin War Academy . He spent a longer stay in Switzerland in 1887 to study the militia system there, on which he wrote a paper. From 1887 to 1893, until his promotion to major in 1893, he worked as a teacher at the war schools in Neisse and Hersfeld and stood à la suite with the infantry regiment "von Stülpnagel" (5th Brandenburgisches) No. 48 .

Theodor Leutwein (seated left), Zacharias Zeraua (2nd from left) and Manasse Tyiseseta (seated, 4th from left), Samuel Maharero (right), 1895

In the same year Leutwein was in the 46th Infantry Regiment in Poznan when, at the suggestion of the Colonel in the General Staff Liebert, he was ordered to German South West Africa and there two years later the previous governor and commander of the protection force, Major Curt von François , in this Function. Leutwein led protection force in 1894 against that of Hendrik Witbooi listed Orlam strain of Witbooi , forcing them to enter into a protection and assistance contract that the Witbooi also met almost 10 years faithfully. Leutwein also succeeded in reviving and continuing the protection treaty with the Herero in Okahandja , so that their chief Samuel Maharero accompanied Leutwein not only on his several months exploration tour through the north of the country, but also in the suppression of an uprising of the Mbanderu / East Herero in 1896 provided military support. In recognition of these military and diplomatic successes, Major Leutwein was appointed the first governor of German South West Africa in 1896.

When the Herero uprising unexpectedly broke out in 1904 , Leutwein, who had meanwhile been promoted to colonel, tried - following his previous line - initially in view of the military balance of power and his hitherto good understanding with the Herero, to reach a negotiated solution the colony as well as in Germany was interpreted as a weakness. Therefore, the command of the Schutztruppe was transferred in 1904 to Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha , who - after the arrival of massive reinforcements, including artillery and machine guns - cracked down on the rebels and sought the total annihilation of the Herero . Leutwein initially remained governor, but fell out with von Trotha because of his inhuman warfare and resigned from the office of governor in 1905.

Nevertheless, Leutwein was promoted to major general in 1905 , retired from the imperial army in the same year and returned to Germany, where he spent his old age in Überlingen on Lake Constance . Leutwein died on April 13, 1921 in Freiburg im Breisgau and is buried in the main cemetery there.


Theodor Leutwein married Frieda Theresia born in Freiburg in 1874. Mammel, this marriage had five children. One of the sons was the later colonial politician and writer Paul Leutwein. The marriage ended in divorce in 1891. In 1906 Leutwein married Mrs. Claire geb. Milence. The marriage remained childless. The son of his eldest son is the mineralogist Friedrich Leutwein , Rector of the Bergakademie Freiberg / Saxony (1949–1953)


  • Eleven years as governor in German South West Africa. 1906; Namibiana Book Depot, 4th edition 1997, ISBN 978-3-936858-36-5
  • The fighting with Hendrik Witboi in 1894 and Witboi's end. Voigtländer, Leipzig 1912 ( digitized version ).


In Munich - Bogenhausen , Ludwigshafen - Rheinau , in his birthplace Strümpfelbrunn and in Düsseldorf - Urdenbach streets are named after L.


Web links

Commons : Theodor Leutwein  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher Clark : Prussia. Rise and fall. 1600-1947. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt , Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-421-05392-3 , p. 690.