Brief, Carl Becker an Gouverneur Schuckmann (1909)

Carl Becker war ein deutscher Landwirt, der mit einer Rehobother Frau in der deutschen Siedlerkolonie Deutsch-Südwestafrika verheiratet war. Die Rehobother stammten historisch gesehen aus den Beziehungen zwischen Afrikanern und Nama ab. Zusammen hatte das Paar fünf Kinder. Zu der Zeit waren Eheschließungen zwischen weißen Siedlern und indigenen Bevölkerungsgruppen seit 1905 verboten worden. Mehrere Dutzend vor diesem Datum durchgeführte Ehen, wie die von Becker und seiner Partnerin, waren rückwirkend annulliert worden. Dieser Brief an den Gouverneur der Kolonie, Bruno von Schuckmann, gibt einen Einblick in die sozialen und rechtlichen Auswirkungen, die diese Maßnahmen auf die Beteiligten hatten. Darüber hinaus wurden im Rahmen der 1909 eingeführten Verfassung des Landesrates (GSWAf) durch Absatz 17f die Bürgerrechte aller Siedler, die einen indigenen Partner hatten, (sowie die Rechte ihrer Kinder) aufgehoben.

Jeff Bowersox and Robbie Aitken (translated by Lilian Gergely)



Vaalgras, 1st September 1909

Your Excellency!

Permit me to renew my request for a restoration of my rights as a citizen. I am convinced that when Your Excellency reflects upon my statements in a benevolent and just way that he will not hesitate to hear my plea.

As a result of paragraph 17f2 of the communal ordinance I, as the husband of a Bastard woman, lose my right to vote. Paragraph 17f originates in the idea that Southwest Africa is a white man’s country: as a white man I won’t say anything against this since the white man has the power and the final source of law is force. […] My marriage originated through the moral and legal agencies of the state before paragraph 17f even appeared. It is my firm belief that I cannot be deprived of my rights through the appearance of retrospective legislation.

The consequences of paragraph 17f are shattering for me.

For my five children, two of whom are in Germany, I pay annually 5,000 marks to educate them. A man with the same number of children, but with a white wife receives an annual contribution from the administration of 1,500 marks in the form of pension supplements. I receive nothing.

If I want to have a farm, a building plot, or a license, these are denied me on the basis of 17f. If I build a dam, I do this with my own money, while others receive a subsidy. If I arrive with my wife, who is practically white (a picture of my family is included) and who may with confidence be compared against any totally white woman in the colony in terms of morality and intellect, then I have to be prepared for unpleasantness.

All this happens to me although I maintain 32,000 hectares of farmland in a model condition, although I carry the burdens associated with this, although I willingly shoulder the taxes and fees associated with a household of eight whites and forty natives. That’s the thanks that I receive for having been a former colonial soldier who helped Germany acquire and secure this country. And why does this happen to me? Because I did not do as many did (I can name names) who lived in this country with native women and who fathered children.

[…] Will my children, who are all being raised as Germans, be my heirs? Will my boys become soldiers and later exercise their right to vote? These are questions I must see answered positively, if my lust for life and work are not to disappear.

There is, nevertheless, no power in the world that will make me leave my wife, who has been a true companion for twelve years.


Carl Becker

QuelleThe German Colonial Experience: Select Documents on German Rule in Africa, China, and the Pacific, 1884-1914, edited by Arthur J. Knoll and Hermann J. Hiery (UPA, March 2010).

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Brief, Carl Becker an Gouverneur Schuckmann (1909) by Jeff Bowersox, Robbie Aitken and Lilian Gergely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at