This photograph shows Rittmeister Ernst von Heynitz in
Schutztruppe uniform with Johanniter insignia.
The Johanniter Order, of which von Heynitz was a member, was
a German Protestant chivalric order dating back to the 11th
Century. The order was patronised by Prussian royalty and by
the late 19th Century was devoted entirely to charitable
works and care of the sick. As such von Heynitz was in
command of the German Red Cross volunteers during the Herero
Von Heynitz wears the Schutztruppe grey
felt Südwester hat with a small Johanniter Order Cross badge
at the front. I have not yet seen another officer with this
insignia. It is uncertain if his hatband is blue for South
West Africa from this black and white photograph.
The tunic is the Schutztruppe
officer's corduroy Interimsrock. The buttons do not have
the Schutztruppe imperial crown but again the Johanniter
The officers shoulder straps have the two pips of a cavalry
captain "Rittmeister" the backing colour for the
strap would be the same as the hatband and edging.
His medals are seen from left
to right in order of seniority-
- Saxon Albrecht
Order, second class with swords
- German Franco-Prussian
War Medal ("Kriegsdenkmünze 1870-71")
- Saxon Cross
for the Austro-Prussian War ("Erinnerungskreuz 1866")
- Saxon Cross for the Second Schleswig War ("Erinnerungskreuz
- Prussian Wilhelm I Centenary Medal
The Wilhelm I Centenary Medal
was issued to all servicemen in the Prussian army and
Imperial service (such as the Schutztruppe and Imperial
Navy) in 1898. It was also awarded to all living veterans of
the Wars of Unification from Prussia or the other German
states. It was in this last category as a Saxon veteran of
the Franco-Prussian War that Von Heynitz got his award.
Von Heynitz wears a
Schutztruppe officer's belt in white metallic lace with two
red stripes and a single black stripe along its length.
The photograph at the bottom
left show von Heynitz again in Schutztruppe uniform with his
unique Johanniter Südwester hat but this time wearing a
Schutztruppe officer's double breasted greatcoat.
It has the same Rittmeister
shoulder straps as the tunic in the main photograph but
close examination shows the buttons on the greatcoat to be
standard Schutztruppe buttons with the Imperial crown rather
than the Johanniter buttons of the tunic.
(1840-1912) was born into a landowning family in the
Kingdom of Saxony. He joined the Saxon Army and
served in the 1864 War against Denmark, the 1866 War against
Prussia and the 1870-71 against France, ending up as a
Rittmeister of the Saxon
Garde-Reiter-Regiment. Heynitz was
also a member of the Order of St John, Bailiwick of Brandenburg
or "Johanniter-Orden" which was dedicated to medical
and charitable works.
In 1898 he moved to
South West Africa where he bought a farm and bred
horses for the Schutztruppe. With the
outbreak of the Herero Rebellion in 1904 he took over
control of the German Red Cross and Schutztruppe
field hospitals in South West Africa and later that
year returned to Germany to recruit nurses. While he
was away his farm was raided and looted by the
He went back to South
West Africa for a year in 1907-08. Upon his
return to Germany in 1908 he was made a "Rechtsritter"
of the Johanniter Order. He set himself the task of raising
funds and means to build hospitals in South West
Africa. After many difficulties the hospital in
Keetmanshoop opened in 1913, a
year after Heynitz's death.
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