Site of horror to be protected

Heritage status mooted for Shark Island

25 April 2018 | History

The largely forgotten German colonial concentration camp at Shark Island in Lüderitz may soon be declared a national heritage site.

The National Heritage Council intends to submit a recommendation in this regard to the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture within two months. The recommendation will be done in accordance with section 30(4) of the National Heritage Act, 27 of 2004.

In a public notice this week the council announced its attention and called for public participation in the process. Situated on a rocky peninsula, Shark Island overlooks Lüderitz harbour and is currently utilised as a camping site.

It was once a concentration camp where thousands of prisoners were kept.

Between 1905 and 1907 the island was used by the German military as a prisoner-of-war camp. The forced prison labour was used to build the growing harbour town.

“The site was first used as a prison where the Germans kept all the prisoners of war that they have captured. Many Ovaherero were kept in this camp. The camp was later transformed into a concentration camp, a change that saw the arrival of more Nama people of which the majority were women and children,” said the council, adding the history of the site confirms its historical value. The council said its history attracts tourists from different parts of the world, while some of the tourists, especially school children, visit the site because of its educational value.

In addition, the tourism activities that take place in and around the site ensures its economic value.

A memorial on the island honours Chief Cornelius Fredericks, as well as other brave men, women and children who perished on the island during the war.

A memorial plague of Adolf Lüderitz, after which the town was named, was also erected at the site.

“These memorials provide the visitors with space and opportunity to pay homage to the departed. These therefore bear testimony to the spiritual value of the site,” the heritage council said.

In another public notice, the council also recommended Driedoornvlagte Fossil Reef as a national heritage site.

Driedoornvlagte is situated outside the Klein Aub settlement near Rietoog.

The fossil reef covers an area of over one million hectares, extending through Farm Rocky Mountains No 626, Farm Driedoornvlagte, Farm Diamant, Klein Aub Farms and Farm Kuburuchap.

It hosts three unique, 548-million-year-old fossils, namely Cloudina, Namacalathus and Namapoikia.

The public has been urged to submit any counter-submissions and requests for hearings to the National Heritage Council within a period of less than 60 days from the date of the public notice.



ELLANIE SMIT