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Tombstone and memorial embedded on rocks, a single house and lighthouse tower in the distance, a solitary seagull flying over
On the 16 February 1907, Cornelius Fredericks died in a prison camp on a rocky, wind-swept outcrop off the coast of Luderitz known locally as ''Haifisch'' (Shark) Island. Cornelius Fredericks is still remembered and revered as one of the most prominent guerrilla leaders of the 1904 - 1908 war. But the camp where he was held in captivity, and where so many of his contemporaries shed their blood, is now largely forgotten. Forming part of Luderitz harbour and laying host to the Luderitz campsite, Shark Island was used by the German military as a prisoner-of-war concentration camp between 1905 and 1907 and contained the captured survivors of the guerrilla units that had been led by Cornelius Fredericks and Hendrik Witbooi. When these 1 795 prisoners arrived in Luderitz on 9 September 1906 they found several hundred Herero prisoners already there, having been brought down from Windhoek and Okahandja as labourers for the construction of the railway line to Aus. There were therefore more than two thousand prisoners in the camp towards the end of 1906. The six months that followed the initial arrival of the people of Cornelius Fredericks could only be described as horrific. In the annual report for Luderitz in 1906, an unknown clerk remarks that the ''Angel of Death'' had come to Shark Island. Huddled together in tents on the far end of a cold and barren island, suffering from malnutrition, the prisoners soon began to die. According to a report by the local German commander, von Estorff, 1 032 of the Nama prisoners alone had died by April 1907. Of those that were still alive it was reported that another 123 were in such poor health that they were likely to die soon. Such statistics suggest that as many as 80 % of the prisoners sent to this concentration camp, were never to leave the island again.
©2014 Andrea Nixon / Andy Nix Pix
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