Contemporary Illustrated Plates


Although the illustrations on this website are all based on original photographs, when researching their uniforms I have found many period illustrations helpful in showing colours, insignia and uniform details. The best of these sources are listed below.

As I do not own the copyright to any of these plates, I have not reproduced them on this website. I have however provided links to some books and websites that do show the plates either partially or in their entirety. Full copies of many of them can often be bought from traders such as Historischer Bilderdienst, Kolonial Welt or on E-bay. If you know of more illustrations of German Colonial Uniforms, please email me here.

"Das Deutsche Heer, Friedensuniformen bei Ausbruch des Weltkrieges " written and illustrated by H. Knötel and P. Pietsch, originally published by Diepenbroick-Grüter & Schulz, Hamburg 1935

This massive study was published in two large volumes and covers the uniforms of the entire imperial army in their peacetime uniforms worn just prior to the outbreak of war in 1914. The thousands of illustrations represent every detail of every unit of the imperial army, along with the Schutztruppe and Seebataillone. These plates are widely regarded to be among the most consistent and accurate available. The Schutztruppe plates can be seen at Traditionsverband by clicking "Schutztruppe" on the main menu.
"Atlas des deutschen Reichsheeres, der kaiserlichen Marine und der Schutztruppen in Afrika" written and illustrated by Carl Henckel, Dresden 1901

This series of large illustrated plates show the uniforms of the imperial armed forces around 1900. Most of the tables focus on individual Army Corps within the regular imperial army but table number 32 shows the uniforms worn by German personnel in the Schutztruppe. Various home uniforms are illustrated in schematic style with smaller scenes showing tropical uniforms below them. Table 29 shows the Seebataillone as part of the Imperial Navy section. Photographs of Table 32 can be seen on the Colonial Memorabilia Page of this website.
"Die Deutsche Schutztruppe für Afrika" (reprinted several times under varying titles) written and illustrated by Moritz Ruhl, originally published in Leipzig probably around the late 1890s.

An excellent series of colour illustrations of the Schutztruppe focussing mainly on German personnel. One curiosity of these illustrations is that they show two buttons worn Swedish style on the cuffs of Schutztruppe 1896 tropical tunics. I have so far seen no photographic evidence to support this detail. Ruhl published a similar book of illustrations of the East Asian Expeditionary Corps, entitled "Unsere Truppen in Ostasien". Again it is an excellent study. Later Ruhl illustrated a large collection of schematic drawings showing the uniforms of the German imperial army in the first decade of the 20th Century. These illustrations are interesting for their inclusion of the East Asian Occupation Brigade. Many of these plates have been partially seen on several websites and in print. The African illustrations appear in "Imperial German Schutztruppe 1891-1914" by Bruce Bassett Powell (see Book Reviews Page), and the East Asian illustrations can be seen at OstAfrika Yahoo Group.
"Uniformen der Marine und Schutztruppen" published by Waldorff Astoria Cigarette Factory, Munich 1933 (Artist Unknown)

This a collection of 96 cigarette cards printed in Germany in the early 1930s showing the uniforms of the Imperial Navy, Schutztruppe and Polizeitruppe before the outbreak of the First World War. Being cigarette cards, the illustrations are naturally quite small but the uniforms are very well researched. The set of cards can be seen at Grosser-Generalstab
, and albums turn up on E-bay quite regularly.
"Die Schutztruppe für Deutsche Südwestafrika 1889-1915" written and illustrated by Eberhard Hettler, published 1932

These are a series of coloured, schematic illustrations of German South West African uniforms covering the whole period of German colonisation in South West Africa with seemingly great accuracy. A similar series covers the German troops of the East Asian Expeditionary Corps. These Boxer Rebellion era prints can be seen at OstAfrika Yahoo Group.

"Geschichte der Kaiserlichen Schutztruppe in DOA" written by Ernst Nigmann, illustrated by Richard Knötel originally published by Mittler-Verlag Berlin 1911

The book itself is an excellent source of information on the Schutztruppe in East Africa (see the Book Reviews Page for the English translated version, "German Schutztruppe in East Africa 1889-1911" published by Battery Press). In the original German version of this book there were four very useful colour plates showing the development of Schutztruppe uniforms in East Africa from 1889-1911 (the English reprint unfortunately shows them only in black and white). They can however be seen in colour at  Reichskolonialamt (go to "Inhalt" then "Geschichte der Kaiserlichen Schutztruppe").

"Deutsches Kolonial-Lexikon" by Dr. Heinrich Schnee, originally published by Quelle & Meyer, Leipzig 1920

This was a massive study of many aspects of the German colonies from military units and uniforms to flora and fauna by the former governor of German East Africa. It is without doubt the largest work on the topic as a whole, although understandably given the breadth of the topic, little space is given to uniforms. There are however several pages of uniforms plates, all accurately illustrated. The entire study is available in a searchable format online at Frankfurt University.
"Deutsche Reiter in Südwest" illustrated by Carl Becker

Unlike the other sources mentioned on this page, Becker's style of illustration was not intended as a uniform guide but more to show the heroic side of actions in South West Africa, nevertheless his illustrations are very accurate in their portrayal of Schutztruppe uniforms. The book's illustrations can be seen in full at Reichskolonialamt (go to "Inhalt" then "Deutsche Reiter in Südwest").
"Schutztruppe für Afrika" illustrated by G. Krickel in the early 1890s

These few colour prints are especially interesting in that they show the Schutztruppe in the very early stages of their development. They can be seen in "Imperial German Schutztruppe 1891-1914" by Bruce Bassett Powell published by Uniformology (see Book Reviews Page).

"Deutsche Expeditionstruppen und Schutztruppen" illustrated by Edgar Graf von Matuschka

This series of 66 colour illustrations shows uniforms worn by the German forces in the Boxer and Herero Rebellions (in China and South West Africa respectively). 51 of them show the East Asian Expeditionary Corps and the other 15 are from the Schutztruppe in South West Africa. They not only show the main units and commanders but also attached Seebataillon and Naval troops along with local auxiliaries.
Various Other Illustrations of the Period

Luckily for historians, the German imperial period was one of great national pride and interest in their armed forces and overseas activities. This encouraged large numbers of illustrations of the colonies to be made by artists for books, magazines, postcards, board games and coffee boxes. While some of these illustrations were hurriedly done based on second hand interpretations of scenes, others were painted by eye witnesses or by keen military artists striving for accuracy. Collections of these illustrations can be seen at Reichskolonialamt or by clicking on Gallerie at Traditionsverband.


Please contact me here if you have seen other contemporary plates not mentioned here.  

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