German South West African Landespolizei
The 1907 Dark Khaki Uniform


Figure 1
Diensttuender Polizei-Wachtmeister

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

The first Landespolizei, formed in 1905 wore Schutztruppe Uniforms with Police Insignia. On 28th September 1907 a new dark khaki uniform was authorised for the Landespolizei.

Dark Khaki Tunic
The new tunic was authorised in the same style as the Schutztruppe 1896 Khaki Uniform but in a distinctive khaki brown, much darker than Schutztruppe uniforms. It had green shoulder straps and a green stand and fall collar. There were two slightly sloped pleated breast pockets and two straight unpleated hip pockets. Although the regulations stated that the Landespolizei uniform would be the same design as the Schutztruppe uniform the pockets of all the Landespolizei tunics I have seen in period photographs and modern collections have pointed pocket flaps, whereas the Schutztruppe's were usually cut straight. There were six buttons down the front of the tunic, one on each pocket and two smaller ones holding the shoulder straps. All buttons were in yellow metal with the imperial crown. As with Schutztruppe uniforms, Landespolizei officers often wore tunics with slight variations in cut due to private tailoring.

Rank insignia was shown in the form of lace on the shoulder straps, pips on the collar and green looped bars on the cuffs, although the cuff insignia was often omitted (see below for full rank insignia details). No specialist insignia has been noted.

Trousers were in matching dark khaki and were authorised to be piped down the outside seam in green. Riding breeches were in brown corduroy but lighter shades are commonly seen in period photographs.

The Prussian Cavalry other ranks greatcoat in pale grey (see Schutztruppe Greatcoats) was authorised with Landespolizei insignia- green shoulder straps (with rank insignia) and yellow metal buttons bearing the imperial crown.

Litewka Tunic
From 1907 Schutztruppe Kord Litewkas were authorised with Landespolizei insignia- green shoulder straps and rank pips on the collar. They do not seem to have been commonly worn, though at least one photograph taken in 1913 shows a Polizeisergeant wearing a 1899 Schutztruppe cloth Litewka with Landespolizei insingia.

Tropical Uniform
Both khaki and white uniforms were authorised for wear by the Landespolizei in the style of the 1896 Schutztruppe Uniform but without Schutztruppe piping and insignia. Instead Landespolizei green shoulder straps, yellow metal buttons and rank collar pips were worn (see Landespolizei Tropical Uniforms Page).

Südwester Hat
A new type of Südwester hat was introduced for the Landespolizei along with the 1907 uniform. It was made from brown felt with a hatband of a paler shade of khaki and a small imperial cockade at the front. The brim of the hat was held up on the right-hand side with a brass imperial crown badge. Differences in the style and size of the crown were common due to privately variations.

Field Cap
A Peaked Field Cap was worn by all ranks when not wearing the Südwester. It was of a matching dark khaki colour to the 1907 uniform with hatband and piping in green and chinstrap and peak in black leather. The chinstrap was held at either side with a small yellow metallic button bearing the imperial crown. A small imperial cockade was worn in the centre of the hatband. Like most German peaked caps it was worn with a wire retaining loop that held the shape of the top of the hat.  

Brown leather boots were worn with matching gaiters by most Landespolizei. , although some photographs show the trousers being worn loose over the boots.

Brown leather gloves were authorised but period photographs show white gloves were also worn on peacetime duties.

Personal Equipment
The standard personal equipment worn by the Landespolizei was in brown leather. It consisted of a bandolier with eight removable ammunition pouches (each holding a clip of five rounds, the shells of which protruded from the lower side of the pouch) worn over the left shoulder and attached to a waist belt on the right hand side, Sam Brown style. Some photographs show the bandolier worn over the opposite shoulder, several photographs show the upper pouches worn without bullets in them and at least one photograph shows the ammunition pouches worn upside down on the bandolier. These variations were presumably for ease and comfort and were not regulation. The bandolier and belt were could be worn without ammunition pouches when not on active duty. Both the bandolier with ammunition pouches and the belt could also be worn separately of each other.

Some photographs show the Landespolizei wearing Schutztruppe equipment and ammunition pouches (see Schutztruppe Mounted Equipment Page).

The Landespolizei were armed mainly with pistols. The 1883 Reichsrevolver and the Roth-Sauer Pistol were both in common use, the Luger P08 was also issued sometime after 1912. Rifles were also carried. Records in "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens" show the Landespolizei had a collection of different  types of standard German rifles in their possesion- G71, G88, K88, G98, G98S and varieties of K98. They also had small supplies of S71/84, S98 and kS98 bayonets in their arsenals although these were not standard issue to the Landespolizei on duty.

Unlike in the Schutztruppe, ranks as low as Sergeant were permitted to carry a sword. The sword issued from 1905 was similar to the Prussian light cavalry sabre. There were two types of sword knot worn, the "Faustriemen" for a Polizei-Sergeant and the "Portepee" for ranks above Sergeant, though Sergeants who had been of Portepee rank in previous services (such the Schutztruppe) were entitled to continue wearing a Portepee. From 1907 the Landespolizei Faustriemen consisted of a brown leather strap and a green knot with a white fringe. The Landespolizei Portepee was also carried on a leather strap often with yellow metallic lace along its length and had a closed acorn knot of white metallic thread often with a green upper part. It seems from period photographs that several variations on these themes were actually worn. Some Faustriemen and Portepee knots had a green and white flecked stem above the knot. From an order of 24th June 1909, the sword was no longer worn on active service.
Recommended External Link- Article on Traditionsverband on Landespolizei Swords

Civilian Attire
The Landespolizei did not have a home uniform for wear in Germany. In fact, they were not authorised to wear their Landespolizei uniforms in Germany except for special occasions such as the Kaiser's birthday parades. Usually when home in Germany they wore civilian attire. Civilian attire was also worn when onboard foreign ships en route to Africa, when on undercover duty and by the senior police officers ("Polizeiassistenten").

Uniforms of Schutztruppe Officers and Officials attached to the Landespolizei
In addition to police personnel, there were about a dozen Schutztruppe Officers attached to the Landespolizei to oversee military matters and training. These officers wore Schutztruppe uniform and rank insignia. There were also three junior paymasters ("Unterzahlmeister") attached to the Landespolizei, they also wore the uniform of a colonial paymaster rather than that of the Landespolizei.

The Last Landespolizei Uniforms
In August 1914 the majority of the Landespolizei were incorporated into the Schutztruppe and issued Schutztruppe uniforms. Only a few remained to serve as police in their 1907 uniforms in the North of the colony until the surrender of German South West Africa in July 1915. The Landespolizei uniforms were however worn after August 1914 by other units- the South African Free Corps Boer rebels that sided with the Schutztruppe of German South West Africa in 1914, the Afghan Mission of 1916 led by Oskar Ritter von Niedermayer and from 1929 up until the Second World War by the mounted police of Bremen with whom the tradition of the old Landespolizei was entrusted.

  The Illustrations

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of Diensttuende Polizeiwachtmeister Hermann Kratz of the South West African Landespolizei taken while on service in the Kalahari desert, mounted on a camel. He wears the 1907 dark khaki uniform. His rank is shown as a Diensttuende Polizeiwachtmeister with three brass pips on the collar and a thick band of lace edging the green shoulder strap (see below for rank insignia details). He wears dark khaki riding breeches, also probably privately tailored.

His Südwester hat has a larger than usual imperial crown badge as was often seen on officers privately tailored hats.

He wears the standard Sam Brown belt over his left shoulder and carries a Mauser G98 rifle slung in a rifle bucket attached to the camel saddle. Both the Schutztruppe and Landespolizei made use of numbers of imported camels in the Northern and Eastern deserts of German South West Africa.

  Hermann Kratz (1879-1955) was born in Nieder-Ohmen and joined the 115th Hessian Life Guard Regt ("Leibgarde-Infanterie-Regiment (1. Großherzoglich Hessisches) Nr.115") in 1899. In 1901 he volunteered for the South West African Schutztruppe, was promoted through NCO ranks in the 3. and 9. Kompanie and transferred to the Landespolizei as a Polizeisergeant in 1905. Further promotion followed to Polizeiwachtmeister in 1908 and Diensttuende Polizeiwachtmeister in 1911. During the First World War he served in the Schutztruppe again, this time as Vize-Feldwebel der Landwehr. After the surrender of South West Africa he was a Prisoner of War in the camp at Aus for several months before being released on parole. He returned to Germany after the war and became an innkeeper.   
Recommended External Link - Oberhessische Zeitung

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a Polizeiwachtmeister of the South West African Landespolizei taken in Windhoek in 1914. This uniform is similar to that of the previous figure except that he wears the rank insignia of a Wachtmeister (two collar pips, a thin strip of gold coloured lace around the shoulder straps and two bars of green cuff lace) and carries the Sam Brown style ammunition belt over his right shoulder. In this example as on several others, only the lower three pouches can be seen to contain ammunition, this may have been for comfort and to facilitate firing a rifle from the right shoulder. He carries a Roth-Sauer pistol in a holster on his belt.

His corduroy riding breeches were either manufactured in a lighter shade (variations due to private tailoring were common) or have faded badly in the sunlight. 

Figure 3 is based on a photograph of a Polizeisergeant of the South West African Landespolizei. This figure shows the rear of the 1907 uniform. His riding breeches are of a shade matching the tunic. Note the attachment of the Sam Brown belt again with a Roth-Sauer Pistol in the holster.

Figure 4 is based on a photograph of a Polizeisergeant of the South West African Landespolizei. This Sergeant wears the 1907 uniform with matching trousers, piped in green and the peaked field cap with hatband and piping also in green. He carries a sword with a Faustriemen sword knot, with a green knot and a white fringe. Note the non-regulation white gloves and the impressive medal display.


1907 Landespolizei Tunic
(See Siebentritt Collection Page)
Photo © Traditionsverband

Landespolizei Tunic
(See Landespolizei Tunic Page)
Photo © S Schepp

Rank Insignia on the Collar
(See Landespolizei Tunic Page)
Photo © S Schepp

Landespolizei Tunic Buttons
The smaller buttons are for shoulder straps
(See Colonial Insignia Details Page)
Photo © Doppler Collection

Landespolizei Südwester
(See Südwester Details Page)
Photo © Doppler Collection

Imperial Crown from the Südwester
This badge is missing the top cross of the crown
(See Südwester Details Page)

Photo © Doppler Collection

Cockade from the Südwester
(See Südwester Details Page)
Photo © Doppler Collection

Landespolizei Roth-Sauer Pistol
(See Roth-Sauer Pistol Page)
Photo © Alistair Hayes

Markings on the Roth-Sauer Pistol
(See Roth-Sauer Pistol Page)
Photo © Alistair Hayes

Rifle bucket for Camel mounted troops
(See Mounted Equipment Details Page)
Photo © Doppler Collection

South West Africa Campaign Medal
(See Medals Details Page)
Imperial War Museum


Rank Insignia for the German South West African Landespolizei

Fig A
Fig B
Fig C
Fig D
Diensttuende Polizeiwachtmeister

Rank insignia for the Landespolizei consisted of brass pips (four pointed square stars positioned diagonally, known as "Stern") on the collars, lace on the shoulder straps and looped green lace bars "Abzeichenschnur" on the cuffs of the uniform. Many Landespolizei did not wear the green bars on the cuffs, in period photographs it is usually only seen on those posted in or near Windhoek.  

Figure A- The "Polizist" or German police constable and "Polizeidiener" or African police servicemen had no pips on the collar, a plain green shoulder strap and no green bars on the cuff.

Figure B- The "Polizeisergeant" had one brass pip on the collar, a plain green shoulder strap and one looped green bar on the cuff (as mentioned above the cuff bars were not always worn). Most of the Landespolizei was made up of Police Sergeants, who were considered as colonial officials ("Beamte") and whose rank was equal to that of a Schutztruppe Sergeant.

Figure C- The "Polizeiwachtmeister" had two brass pips on the collar, a thin strip of gold coloured lace edging the green shoulder strap and two bars on the cuff. The Wachtmeisters were mostly older and more experienced than the Sergeants and were often in charge of small police stations and in such positions were known as the Station Elder ("Stationsälteste"). It is reported by an eyewitness (Polizeiassisten Hans Rafalski) that only the Stationsälteste wore the two bars of lace on the cuffs, whereas other Wachtmeisters only wore one, though this has not been proven yet in photographs, partly because so few of the Landespolizei wore the green cuff bars at all.

Figure D- The "Diensttuende Polizeiwachtmeister" had three brass pips on the collar, a thick band of gold coloured lace with threads of red and black edging the green shoulder strap and one green bar above a gold lace bar on the cuff. There were only a few Diensttuender Polizeiwachtmeister. Each commanded a "Beritt" made up of an area containing several smaller police stations, hence they are also referred to as a "Berittführer". The Diensttuender Polizeiwachtmeister also often served as the substitute head of civil administration for his area.

The senior police officers ("Polizeiassistent") in the Landespolizei wore civilian dress and therefore did not display rank insignia. There were four or five Polizeiassistenten in German South West Africa in 1914, one first class (Polizeiassistent I. Klasse Hans Rafalski, the head of the police school in Windhoek) and the rest second class Polizeiassistent.

Period Photographs

Portrait Photographs of two Landespolizei Sergeants

The photograph above left shows Polizeisergeant Wilhelmi taken in 1911 wearing the 1907 Dark Khaki Uniform with green collar and shoulder straps. Note the single rank pip on the collar, showing him to be a Polizeisergeant. He wears two medals on his left breast, the more senior closest to his buttons is the South West Africa Campaign Medal with three clasps the other is presumably the 2nd Class Landwehr Service Award (see the Photograph of Polizei-Sergeant Wilhelmi Page for a full list of his medals and a more detailed study of this picture). Note the sword carried by Polizeisergeanten.
Photo © S Schepp originally printed in "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens"

  Friedrich Wilhelm Wilhelmi (1883-1941) was born in Hanover and joined the 73rd Hanoverian Fusilier Regt ("Füsilier-Regiment Feldmarshchall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen (1.Hannoversches) Nr.73") as a two year volunteer in 1902. From there he volunteered for the Schutztruppe in 1904, being promoted through the NCO ranks to sergeant by 1908 when he transferred into the Landespolizei retaining the rank of Sergeant. During the First World War he served again in the Schutztruppe as Sergeant der Landwehr, was wounded and received the Iron Cross, second class. After the war he returned to Germany to work in finance, then returned to South West Africa in the 1920s to work as a hospital administrator near Lüderitzbucht and eventually moved to Argentina in 1931 where he settled on a plantation until his retirement.

The photograph above right shows Polizeisergeant Mutschke again wearing the 1907 uniform with the rank insignia of a Polizeisergeant on his green collar and shoulder straps. He wears the Landespolizei Südwester hat with the Imperial crown badge holding up the right hand side just visible. Again note the pointed pocket flaps. His medals are the South West Africa Campaign Medal (with a clasp for "Hereroland"), the Prussian 9 year Long Service Award and the Landwehr Long Service Award, Second Class (see the Landespolizei Tunic Page for more on Polizei-Sergeant Mutschke).
Photo © S Schepp originally printed in "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens"

  Wilhelm Mutschke (1876-1937) was born in Grünberg, Silesia (now known as Zielona Góra in Poland) and trained as a locksmith before joining the 153rd Thuringian Infantry Regt ("8. Thüringisches Infanterie-Regt. Nr.153") in 1898. He transferred to the South West African Schutztruppe from 1900 to 1903, then again from 1904 as an Unteroffizier at Karibib. He joined the Landespolizei in 1905 serving at Onjossa and Erora, both in the Karibib District. He married in 1908 and had two children. During the First World War he remained in Karibib, returning to Germany with his family in 1919. Back home, he worked in the prison service and was an active member of the Former Colonial Police Officers Society, the "Verband der Polizeibeamten für die deutschen Kolonien".


Mounted Landespolizei Sergeant
The photograph above shows Polizeisergeant Horn again wearing the 1907 uniform with the rank insignia of a Polizeisergeant. He also wears the Landespolizei Südwester hat, note the imperial crown badge and cockade at the front. Note also his brown leather cartridge bandolier and rifle bucket.
Photo and information from his Grandson Dr Alexander Mayer on WikiCommons

  Lorenz Horn (1880-1956) enlisted in the 6th Royal Bavarian Field Artillery Regt ("Kgl. Bayer. 6. Feldartillerie-Regiment Prinz Ferdinand von Bourlon, Herzog von Calabrien") in 1900. He joined the Schutztruppe in 1904 and served throughout the Herero Rebellion, transferring to the Landespolizei in 1908. During the First World War he served in the 4. Feldkompagnie of the Schutztruppe and saw action at the battles of Sandfontein and Ghaub. After the Schutztruppe's surrender he was interned at Gibeon, finally returning to Germany with his wife and children in 1919 or 1920.

Landespolizei Sergeants in Hoachanas 1909
This photograph was sent as a postcard by the man on the left, Polizeisergeant Rudolf Rogge. The two Landespolizei Sergeants on the left and right wear the 1907 dark khaki uniform with matching peaked caps all are faced in green. Note the rank pips on the collar and green cuff loops. The figure in the centre wears a white tropical uniform all details of which are dazzled out in this photograph. It is likely he is a member of the Schutztruppe judging from the different shade of his peaked cap and its hatband- his may be a khaki corduroy cap with blue hatband and piping. Note also that the Landespolizei have chinstraps on their caps while the Schutztruppe soldier does not.

Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

Landespolizei and
Veteran Reservists on Parade, 1910
To the right of the photograph are the Landespolizei wearing 1907 dark khaki uniforms and Landespolizei Südwester hats. They are being inspected by the South West African Governor, Dr. Seitz. The photograph was taken on 14th November 1910. The men on the left in white tropical uniforms are Schutztruppe veterans of the Herero War.

Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

Landespolizei in Training
These troopers wear the 1907 dark khaki uniform with green collars and shoulder straps, matching trousers and leather gaiters. They wear the Landespolizei Südwester hat and are armed with Kar88 carbines. Horses were trained to lie prone to provide cover for their riders under fire.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv



Special thanks for help on this page goes to S Schepp who has been researching the Landespolizei for many years and has recently published his work on them-

"Unter dem Kreuz des Südens-
Auf Spuren der Kaiserlichen Landespolizei von Deutsch-Südwestafrika

"This is the definitive study of the Landespolizei in German South West Africa. As you would expect it covers the history, organisation, uniforms and equipment of the Landespolizei but what it also does is bring these extensively researched facts and figures to life by winding it around the life stories of many of the policemen themselves. The author has travelled the world to find descendants of the Landespolizei to find their own personal stories. This touch, as well as the hundreds of previously unpublished facts, photographs and illustrations makes this book a must for all those interested in the German colonies."



See "Unter dem Kreuz des Südens" for more details and how to purchase this invaluable book.


Please contact me here if you have more information or photos on this topic. 

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