Kolmanskop ~ From Diamonds to Dust

Luderitz is an isolated, harbor town in southwest Namibia on a very windy, in-hospitable coast that is lined and littered with shipwrecks. German colonists developed Luderitz as a diamond-mining town in 1883 on land that had been nearly inaccessible.

In 1905 a concentration camp was established on Shark Island (just outside Luderitz) that functioned between 1905 and 1907 and, unfortunately during that time, the Germans systematically exterminated three and a half thousand Africans from the Herero and Nama tribes by forced labor to expand the city, railway, port and farms of white German settlers. 

Luderitz is known for its colonial architecture and for its wildlife including seals, penguins, flamingos and ostriches. From a distance the town looks as if it belonged in Northern Europe because of the characteristic church steeple and architecture.

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German Evangelical Lutheran Church, known as the Church of the Rocks, was built in 1912 in the Vertical Gothic style.

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Luderitz Railway Station ~ No train has come here in over 50 years. They are in the process of refurbishing the tracks now.

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Haus Goerke ~ Built for the Prime Minister, but after one year his wife refused to live there, so she left permanently.

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Located a few miles from Luderitz is the town of Kolmanskop that sprang into existence in 1908 after a railway worker found a sparkling stone (diamond) in the sand. Large elegant houses were built and the area soon resembled a German town including a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, two-lane skittle alley, theater and sports hall, casino, ice factory, butchery, bakery, and the first x-ray station in the Southern hemisphere. 

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 However, in the 1920’s, Kolmanskop’s history peaked with approximately 300 German adults, 40 children and 800 contract workers living there. Forty years later, it had died, and this ghost town’s crumbling ruins speak little of its former glory. The stately homes have nearly been demolished by the wind and are gradually becoming enveloped by encroaching sand dunes.

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3 Responses to “Kolmanskop ~ From Diamonds to Dust”

  1. Love your title — probably ’cause I love alliteration.

    I was contracted, at one point long ago, to do some consulting work in Namibia, but it fell through. This “slice” of the province is such a remarkable contrast … and your photos certainly caught it !!!

    I am busy planning to host my family’s Christmas party … I’ll be interested in how you celebrate the season on board, or wherever …. Smooth sailing …

  2. I love it. What an interesting location. Photos and architecture are beautiful.

  3. Thank you Mary Jane,
    What fascinating little corners of the world you are seeing and learning about. Kolmanskop reminds me of the dying and abandoned gold mining towns here.

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