Askari Officers of the German East African Schutztruppe and Polizeitruppe

  Background of the Effendi
The rank of "Effendi" was unique to the Schutztruppe and Polizeitruppe of German East Africa. When the Wissmanntruppe recruited Sudanese askaris (formerly of Anglo-Egyptian service) for service in East Africa, it was not only other ranks that were employed. A number  officers were also employed by the Germans as it was felt that the askaris would be more easily led by officers familiar with their language and customs. These officers were known as "Effendi", after the Arabic title used in their previous employment. Although Effendi is often used to mean African officers and most Effendi were African, some of the original Wissmanntruppe Effendi originated from all around the Ottoman Empire including its Asian and European extents.

At first these officers retained their ranks from their previous service- lieutenants, second lieutenants, captains (and possibly a major). In the mid 1890s these ranks were dispensed with to form a single rank of Effendi. As relations between the German officers and their askaris improved, it was felt that the Effendi were no longer needed and they were gradually being phased out with no new promotions from askari NCO ranks given. By 1914 there were only two Effendi serving in the Schutztruppe of German East Africa. During the First World War however at least three further askari NCOs were promoted to the rank of Effendi for exemplary service and leadership.

Uniforms of the Effendi
The Effendi wore the same khaki and white uniforms as German Schutztruppe Officers and NCOs but without the blue piping. Matching trousers were sometimes worn loose over their boots without other ranks puttees, in the style of German officers when not on active service. Headdress for the Effendi was the same as for askari other ranks, either a red fez or a khaki tarbush but with a large yellow metal eagle for the Effendi. As with German officers, Effendi were entitled to carry a sword rather than the bayonet carried by African other ranks.

Period photographs show that the Effendi sometimes wore uniforms showing personal irregularities from these official descriptions. These range from not having a Tarbush eagle at all or wearing riding boots to still wearing their old Anglo-Egyptian army dark blue parade tunic in one photograph.


Figure 1
Schutztruppe Effendi


The Illustrations

Figure 1 is based on a photograph of a Schutztruppe Effendi taken in the early 1890s. As mentioned above, not all Effendi were African, this particular Effendi Fahim was of Greek origin. He wears the same uniform as a German Schutztruppe Officer of the period (dark khaki, six brass buttons, four pockets with a brass imperial crown on either end of the stand and fall collar) but with an askari red fez. He wears two brass stars on his shoulder straps denoting him as an Oberleutnant. His medals are those earned in both German and Anglo-Egyptian service and from left to right are the German War Service Medal ("Kriegerverdienstmedaille"), the British Egypt Campaign Medal with two clasps and the Egyptian Khedive’s Star Medal.
Recommended External Link - Photos of a Medal Bar at the Gentlemen's Military Interest Club)

Figure 2 is based on a photograph of a Schutztruppe Effendi taken sometime in the early 20th Century. He wears the German Schutztruppe 1896 khaki tunic, without blue piping and with plain khaki shoulder straps with three white metal stars on the shoulder straps. Like the previous figure he wears the off duty red fez in place of a tarbush and wears medals both from German and Anglo-Egyptian service (most likely the German War Service Medal and the British Egypt Campaign Medal). He carries a sword as befitting his rank, although it may not have been carried in action. Note that this Effendi curiously wears a Schutztruppe officers belt buckle with an other ranks brown leather belt and a strip of the officer's silver, red and black belt worn to one side of the buckle. He wears brown leather riding boots.

Figure 2
Schutztruppe Effendi

Rank Insignia of the Effendi

Rank was displayed in the form of five-pointed, brass (white metal after 1896) stars running up the shoulder strap.

In the early stages of the formation of the Schutztruppe, when different Effendi ranks existed one star denoted a lieutenant, two denoted a second lieutenant and three denoted a captain.

During the 1890's, when these distinctions of rank were dispensed with, all Effendi were entitled to wear three stars.

Fig A
Fig B
Fig C

Period Photographs

Schutztruppe Feldkompangie in Training c1891-97
This photograph shows Sudanese askaris of the East African Schutztruppe rehearsing a defensive position as used against local tribesmen. The askaris wear the kahki uniform with kahki Tarbush without compnay numbers or the imperial eagle. The two German officers or NCOs wear the white 1891 uniform with white peaked caps with blue hatbands. A third German can be seen in the right centre background with a white tropical helmet.

Of particular interest is the Sudanese Effendi  in the left foreground of the photograph wearing the askari Tarbush but with the German pocketed tunic and trousers worn loose rather than in dark blue grey puttees like the African other ranks. He appears to be resting his left hand on a sword, as authorised for the Effendi. Also note in the centre background another Effendi, in red fez and white uniform. From his appearance he may be Egyptian.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

Sudanese Effendi
Wissmanntruppe, Cairo, Egypt 1889
This Effendi wears the Sudanese askari khaki tunic and grey turban. His rank is displayed by the carrying of a sword and in the form of five pointed lace bars with a loop on his cuffs. This may an old ranking system dating from his previous service in the Anglo-Egyptian army or it could be a new temporary insignia issued by the Germans. It is not known if this system was ever used once the recruited askaris went to East Africa.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv


Two Effendis
Schutztruppe c1891-1897
This photograph shows two Effendis on parade. They both wear variations on the 1891 Schutztruppe uniform. The Effendi on the left wears a khaki uniform similar to that worn by German officers with Brandenburg cuffs (note the the visible buttons on each cuff) and four pockets. His plain khaki shoulder straps have a number of stars to denote his exact rank. The Effendi on the right wears a white uniform similar to that worn by German officers with and four pockets. The cuffs appear to be plain. His shoulder straps cannot clearly be seen but may have a number of stars to denote his exact rank. They both wear askari tarbushes without insignia as do their other ranks. They have trousers to match their khaki and white uniforms worn loose over short brown leather ankle boots and carry swords to further denote their officer status. See more details of this photo here.
Photo © Karsten Herzogenrath

Effendi Mitambo
11. Feld-Kompagnie, Schutztruppe c1916-18

Like all East African Schutztruppe late in the First World War Effendi Mitambo has little if anything of his former uniform. Mitambo started the war as an NCO Sol and was promoted to Effendi during the campaign. The short sleeved shirt and belt are certainly not Schutztruppe issue, though the trousers may be. The field cap may be captured British stock to signify his officer rank in the absence of shoulder straps.
Photo © Frankfurt University Koloniales Bildarchiv

"Das Deutsche Heer, Friedensuniformen bei Ausbruch des Weltkrieges " by H. Knötel and P. Pietsch (Diepenbroick-Grüter & Schulz, Hamburg 1935)
"Askari und Fitafita - Farbiger Söldner in den deutschen Kolonien" by Thomas Morlang (CH Links)
"German Schutztruppe in East Africa 1889-1911" by Ernst Nigmann translated by Robert E Dohrenwend (Battery Press)
"The German Colonial Troops 1889-1918" by
Jürgen Kraus and Thomas Müller (Verlag Militaria)
"Die Deutsche Schutztruppe 1889/1918" by Werner Haupt (Dörfler Publishing)
"Deutsches Kolonial-Lexikon" by Dr. Heinrich Schnee (Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig 1920
"Die Kaiserliche Schutz- und Polizeitruppe für Afrika" by Reinhard Schneider (Druffel & Vorwinkel-Verlag)
Photographs from the Frankfurt University Colonial Archives and the Axis History Forum


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