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Die Reiter von Deutsch-Ostafrika (1934)

"The Riders of German East Africa" is a 1934 German film directed by Herbert Selpin

TK Tim Kirsten Updated
Die Reiter von Deutsch-Ostafrika - 1934 - The Riders of German East Africa

Farmer Hellhoff is drafted into the “Schutztruppe” Protection Force (German armed colonial force) in German East Africa at the beginning of the First World War. Meanwhile, his young wife Gerda looks after the plantation together with the teenage volunteer Klix. In 1916 the plantation gets occupied by a British unit.

The commander Major Cresswell, because of his old friendship with the Hellhoffs, tries to cover the woman as he knows she is in secret contact with her husband, who hides with his comrades in the bush. Complying with his duty as a British officer, he has the water stations in the area occupied to force the German soldiers to surrender. When Ms. Hellhoff tries to bring them water with Klix, she is arrested, and the boy is shot. Klix still manages to bring the soldiers the water bottles before he dies.

Hellhoff and his men rescue Gerda, who is to be taken away for trial at a British Military Court and escape with water and horses. Before the troop seeks to rejoin the unit of the Schutztruppen Commander Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, they return to the grave of Klix. Hellhoff promises the dead boy to return - sooner or later, what is supposed to be a hint to the recovery of the colony lost by the First World War.

Compared to other German productions from the early Nazi era, the film seems politically relatively harmless. In contrast to other prewar films, such as the submarine drama “Morgenrot” (literally "morning-red"), the emphasis on British-German male friendship in The Riders of German East Africa is clearly noticeable. At that time widespread motifs of colonial and historical pragmatism are recognizable. This includes the representation of the Germans as strict but fair colonial rulers. The positive image of the African population (apart from a jealous housemaid) fits the myth of the faithful Askari (Swahili for “Soldier” - also from the Arabic word ‘askarī).

German Empire (1866-1918)
Directed by:
  • George H. Schnell
  • Ilse Strobrawa
  • Ludwig Gerner
  • Peter Voss
  • Rudolf Klicks
  • Sepp Rist
  • German
WWI (1914-1918)
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