A desert in southern Africa is probably the last place you’d expect to find a little slice of German life.
But knee-deep in the shifting sands of the Namib Desert in Namibia, the abandoned village of Kolmanskop stands as a testament to German colonization of the early 20th century.
The town sprung up around a diamond mining operation and quickly became known as one of the richest towns in southern Namibia, which was a German colony until World War I.
The diamond fields were so bountiful, some say the precious stones could be scooped right out of the sand.
The town had numerous amenities including a hospital, casino, ice-factory, electrical plant, and even its own swimming pool. Kolmanskop’s German heritage is unmistakable in the style of the once pristine villas and shops, and many signs about the town are in German.
But with Germany losing the first World War and diamond production moving elsewhere, the town soon lost its prosperity and was entirely abandoned by 1954. Now it survives as an attraction with guided tours bringing tourists through the empty houses filling with sand as the desert slowly retakes the town.
The town of Kolmanskop lies about 8 miles in from the Atlantic coast and is accessible with tours from the nearby port of Lüderitz.
The town soon became a bustling center of business. Here, the entrance shows the town's German spelling. 'Kolmanskop' is Afrikaans.
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