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Number: 3803
Continent: Africa
Region: West
Place Names: Cameroon
Year of Origin: 1915
Title: Cameroons/Grand Kameroon
Sub-Title: [lower left margin] Geographical Section, General Staff, No 2793
Language: English
Publish Origin: London
Height: 92.5
Width: 72.5
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Large
Scale: 1 : 2,000,000
Color Type:
Click for high-resolution zoomable image
Publisher: Topographic Depot of the War Office
British Intelligence Division War Office
Other Contributors:
Northernmost Latitude: 13.2
Southernmost Latitude: -1.3
Westernmost Longitude: 8.0
Easternmost Longitude: 18.9
Measurement Notes: on map
Notes: [Dasa Pahor source] Grand Cameroon Lithograph in colour, dissected into 30 sections and mounted upon original linen, folding into original cream-coloured card covers bearing pastedown seller's label of Sifton, Praed & Co. Ltd. The Map House, London with the manuscript title 'Cameroons' (Very Good, clean and bright) 92.5 x 72.5 cm (36.5 x 28.5 inches). A very rare and important map showcasing 'Grand Kamerun', the massive German colonial entity that existed only between 1911 and 1916 and which embraced not only all of modern Cameroon but also parts of what are today Nigeria, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Chad and the Republic of Congo; produced by the British War Office as a key strategic aid during World War I 'Kamerun Campaign', whereupon Entente forces gradu ally conquered the colony; predicated upon the most recent surveys and intelligence, it depicts the proposed boundaries for dividing the country between Britain and France in the postwar era, as well as a wealth of other information on local tribes, military targets and transportation infrastructure, etc. This very rare map is one of the most important and intriguing maps of Cameroon (German: Kamerun), showing ? 'Grand Kamerun', the super-enlarged form that the German colony possessed only between 1911 and 1916 (when Cameron constituted not just all of modern Cameroon, but parts of today's Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, and Gabon). It was produced by the British War Office as the finest map for strategic planning used during the World War I 'Kamerun Campaign' (August 6, 1914 to March 10, 1916), when Britain, France and Belgium struggled to conquer the colony from the German Schutztruppe. The map is exceedingly detailed and accurate and is largely predicated upon recent German and French scientific surveys, while adding important late breaking information. The map embraced all of Grand Kamerun in all its immensity, including the newly acquired territories in the east and south, called Neukamerun, whereupon the colony is shown to extend to the Ubangi and Congo rivers, and down to reach around the Spanish colony of R? Muni (today mainland Equatorial Guinea). Topographical relief is shown by gradient tints explained in the table in the lower right margin, with levels running up to above 4000 metres (Mount Cameroon, the country?s highest peak is 4070 metres high), while every river, lake and swamp is clearly detailed. The names of the country's indigenous tribes are labelled upon their respective territories, while the country is divided into 28 'Administrative Districts', which are identified by numbers explained the legend in the lower margin. The two References, in the lower margin, provide the symbols that explain the vast wealth of information showcased upon the map, including: railways (both completed and under construction); main roads and trails; in the seas, shipping lines and submarine cables; elevation contour lines; spot heights (in metres); the limits of navigation on rivers (shown as an anchor); telegraph lines; post offices; telegraph offices; wireless stations; customs posts; international and district boundaries; administrative headquarters (underlined); military outposts (underlined with intermittent lines); and the limits of the 'Franco-German Frontier previous to Agreement of 1911' (being the former boundaries between Kamerun and French Equatorial Africa, before France ceded Neukamerun to Germany), represented by a dashed and dotted line. Special note should be given to Duala (Douala), the country's largest city and main port, and Jaunde (Yaound?, which became the colonial capital in 1909. Also remarkable are the two main railways, which played a leading role in Cameroon's economy, being the Northern Railway (Nordbahn), which ran from near Douala up to the agriculturally-rich highlands in the northwest; and the Central Railway (Mittelbahn), which ran from Douala into the interior, towards the heart of the country. Also of note are the lands of the South Cameroon Company (Gesellschaft S?-Kamerun), a major chartered land-plantation development enterprise, as well as the sites of major World War I battles (such as Mora, Nsanakong, Garua, Ngaundere, Banjo, Douala and Ukoko), whereupon the Entente forces fought a difficult campaign against the outnumbered German defenders. A Note on Editions and Rarity The British War Office issued different, updated editions of the Cameroons map on the scale of the present map (1:200,000) from 1908 to 1923. The first edition, of 1908, depicted the original (smaller) Kamerun before it acquired Neukamerun, to became Grand Kamerun, and was issued in response the Anglo-French alarm due to German sabre-rattling Africa; the possibility of an Entente invasion of the country was always there. The office followed up with a 1913 edition, which was the first to depict Grand Kamerun. The present 1915 edition was the only version issued during the Kamerun Campaign, and primarily served as a strategic military aid (although it was also sold commercially in shops, as the present Praed & Sifton-Map House label proves). Editions followed in 1916 and 1919, with the latter depicting the final Anglo-French boundaries that divided Cameroon in the wake of the Versailles Conference. A final edition was issued in 1923, focusing on the respective British and French League of Nations mandates that would govern Cameroon until 1960. All editions of the map are very rare, as they were issued in only small print runs, mainly for official use. While we can trace examples of the present 1915 edition in about half a dozen institutions worldwide, wo cannot find any sales record for any of the editions. The Rise German Kamerun Cameroon (German: Kamerun) was a vast and magnificent land populated by people of sophisticated cultures and blessed with abundant natural resources; it is sometimes referred to as ?Africa in miniature? for its remarkable ethnic and geographic diversity. While Europeans had long maintained a transient presence along its coasts, trading in slaves and commodities, it was not until the 1860s that they seriously attempted to colonize the country. Indeed, the damp, equatorial climate of the littoral was hard on the European constitution, while the often mountainous, jungle-covered interior was hard to penetrate. That being said, the country?s economic potential was inestimable, for central and southern Cameroon was amazingly fertile, capable of producing all matters of tropical cash crops, while trade links produced ample access to ivory, precious metals and gems. During the ?Scramble for Africa?, many key figures within the emerging unified German state (the German Empire would be formed in 1871), believed that Germany would only become a ?Great Power? if it gained an overseas empire, like Britain and France, while the country?s heavily industrialized economy needed access to natural resources. Cameroon became Germany?s first proto-colonial beachhead, when in 1868, the Hamburg firm of C. Woermann established a trading post at the Wori River Delta (near present day Douala). This venture proved commercially successful, and in 1874, the Woermann agents Johannes Thorm?len and Wilhelm Jantzen formed their own firm, Jantzen & Thorm?len. Over the succeeding years, Jantzen & Thorm?len and Woermann dramatically expanded their operations, purchasing vast tracts of land from local chiefs and developing massive plantations for bananas, rubber, palm oil, and cocoa, as well as opening shipping routes between Duala and Germany. The conditions were perfect and the endeavours were wildly successful. However, both Britain and France, which were well established in neighbouring lands, harboured interests in Cameroon, and the German preeminence in the country was far from secure. A barrier to shoring up German control of Cameroon (an indeed all of its proto-colonial ventures) was Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. He was initially against Germany forming overseas domains, as he feared that would entangle the nation in what he saw as unnecessary and expensive conflicts with both local forces and other European powers, so risking Germany?s security. However, in early 1884, the head of the Woermann firm, Adolph Woermann, managed to convince the chancellor of the immense economic potential of Cameroon, causing him to (albeit reluctantly) alter his stance. That year Bismarck dispatched Gustav Nachtigal (1834 - 1885), a brilliant diplomat and ethnographer, who was the foremost exponent of German colonialism, to Cameroon to secure it a German ?Protectorate?. Nachtigal, aboard the gunship SMS M?e, first travelled to Togo, to bring it under the German umbrella, before arriving at Douala on July 14, 1884, whereupon he compelled the local chiefs into agreeing to place Cameroon under German ?protection?. Nachtigal then continued on to what it today Namibia, securing it for Germany. Due to Nachtingal?s actions, at the Berlin Conference (1884-5), whereupon most of Africa was divided between the various European powers, Cameroon was awarded to Germany. However, two great factors hindered Cameroon development. First, while the areas near the coast were well known to Europeans and were relatively well mapped, the country?s vast interior was largely an enigma, while Cameroon?s borders with the neighbouring French and British colonies were largely undefined. Penetrating and mapping the interior would be a long difficult process. Second, while Bismarck reluctantly agreed to allow Cameroon (and other lands) to become German protectorates, he was staunchly opposed to making them into full-blown crown colonies, which would have entailed costly, vast bureaucracies and permanent military establishments, as was the case in most of the British and French overseas domains. Thus, Cameroon was to be run by private trading firms and chartered land companies, whose responsibility it was to pay for the country?s governance and infrastructure, as well as the costs for relatively small corps of ?Schutztruppe? (Protection Forces), who were to defend the realm and preserve internal order. In Bismarck?s opinion, Germans in Africa to be ?first the merchant, then the soldier?, meaning that their primary role would be to trade, with force used only if commerce was threatened. While the German protectorate regimes in Deutsch-Ostafrika (Tanzania) and Deutsch-S?westafrika (Namibia) were to have severe problems in managing their relations with the local peoples, resulting in long and costly wars (as well as horrific human rights abuses), it helped mightily that the German regimes in Cameroon and Togoland had dealings with the local peoples that, while exploitative and not exactly warm, rarely broke out into open acrimony. The economy of Cameroon continued to be dominated by the established trading companies, whose operations tended to be based within a certain proximity of the coast. Yet, towards the end of the century, the colonial governor Jesko von Puttkamer, authorized the formation of charted companies to specifically develop the interior, which had immense latent potential. In 1898, the Gesellschaft S?-Kamerun (South Cameroon Company) was formed to exploit rubber and ivory in the Lomie and Jukaduma districts. In 1899, Gesellschaft Nordwest-Kamerun (Northwest Cameroon Company) was established to develop the highland areas in the Bamum and Bamikele regions. By the turn of the century, it became clear that vast investment in Cameroon?s infrastructure would be necessarily if the colony was to ever reach its economic potential, a mandate that could only be carried out with the assistance of the German crown. This led to a much greater direct involvement by Berlin in Cameroon?s affairs than the late Bismarck had envisaged, such that Cameroon started to be become a colony in the conventional sense, as opposed to a corporate protectorate. The German state dispatched dozens of military engineers to the country to construct vast networks of telegraph lines, and to build and improve roads and ports; while government subsidized shipping lines connected the Cameroon the mother country. The construction of railways promised to dramatically increase Cameroon?s exports. The first line was completed in 1902 by a small private concern between Soppo, near Buea, at the foot of Mount Cameroon, to the port of Limbe (formerly Victoria), with a total length of 43 km. The Kamerun-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft (Cameroon Railway Corporation), a private concern that was partially subsidized by the crown, was formed in 1906 to build major lines across the country. Its first major achievement was to build the Nordbahn (Northern Railway) from Bonab?i (opposite Douala on the Wouri estuary) to Nkongsamba in the northwestern Cameroon highlands, constructed from 1906 to 1911, it totaled 160 km in length. The Mittellandbahn (Central Railway) was built from Douala eastwards, reaching Es?a, southeast of Jaunde (Yaound?, by the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The development of plantations, railways, roads and telegraph networks were a major catalyst for cartography in Cameroon and may of the key corridors of transport and settlement were soon well mapped. However, the quality and coverage of the mapping of the country overall was uneven, and even as late as 1905, much of the interior was entirely uncharted. The Kolonial-kartographischen Institut, the special cartographic bureau of the German Colonial Office, authorized an advanced systematic trigonometric survey of all of Cameroon, a massive project that involved dozens of skilled engineers and hundreds of local assistants. The endeavour was so important that Max Moisel, the head of the Institut, traveled to Cameroon in 1908 to personally oversee the mapping. The surveys were completed in 1910 and the result was published as the colossal 31-sheet Karte von Kamerun (Berlin, 1911), a key source for the present work. Kamerun + Neu Kamerun = Grand Kamerun Cameroon eventually became a focus of geopolitics. In 1904, France and Britain buried centuries of rivalry, signing the Entente Cordiale. They were primary motivated by the threat of Germany, which had been rapidly expanding its military and was increasingly engaged in provocative behaviour towards London and Paris. France was in the process of transforming most of Morocco into a protectorate and, beginning 1905, Germany started to interfere in Moroccan affairs in an attempt to gain leverage over France so as to gain concessions elsewhere. Matters came to a head during the Agadir Crisis (April-November 1911), when Germany threatened to take military action in Morocco, supporting the country?s sultan, in his bid to ward off French colonial domination. Under German pressure, France blinked. France agreed to cede vast territories in Central Africa to Germany in return for Berlin allowing France to essentially take over most of Morocco (an arrangement ratified aby the Treaty of Fes, March 30, 1912). Cameroon?s governor, Otto Geim, believed that the colony?s development was severely hindered by the lack of access to the interior, a problem that the building of railroads could only partially remedy. He reasoned that the colony needed access to the great partly navigable interior rivers, the Congo and Ubangi, that ran though French and Belgian territory to the east and south of Cameroon. Gleim managed to convince the German foreign minister, Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter, to compel France to cede massive territories to Cameroon?s east and south, as Germany? price for permitting the Treaty of Fes. Under the Franco-German agreement, made in late 1911, France ceded 295,000 km? of land from its colony of French Equatorial Africa (French: Afrique-?uatoriale fran?ise, or the AEF), being parts of today?s Chad, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and Gabon) to Germany, which was added to Cameroon to form ?Grand Kamerun?, which ahd total areas of 760,000 km? (as opposed to old Kamerun?s 465,000 km?). The new territories were called ?Neukamerun?, and it gave Cameroon a port on the Ubangi River at Singa and another on the Congo River at Bonga, while the colony now wrapped around the Spanish domain of R? Muni to have additional seacoast at Ukoko. Some of the more ambitious German Africa hands even hoped that the acquisition of Neukamerrun would be a prelude to annexing the Belgian Congo (which had a direct border with Grand Kamerun), reasoning that as such a large colony (the Belgian Congo) was too big for such small country (Belgium), so creating a huge trans-African German realm that would extend from Douala to Dar-es-Salaam (in Deutsch-Ostafrika). On the other hand, as part of the 1911 deal, Germany ceded to France only a relatively small triangle of land, in the far northeast of Cameroon, in order to give the key French outpost of Fort Lamy (N?Djamena) increased hinterland. The Grand Kamerun arrangement proved to be unpopular with everyone (except perhaps Governor Geim and some colonial diehards). In France, people were outraged by their government?s weakness under Teutonic pressure, surrendering so much territory (and severing the territorial integrity of the AEF). In Germany, the ?hawks?, believing that Berlin had Paris ?over a barrel? in Morocco were angered that Kiderlen-Waechter ?squandered? so much diplomatic capital on a what they considered to be a worthless expanse of malarial swamp and jungle; to them the notion of using it as a bridge to take over the Belgian Congo only meant gaining even more malarial swamp and jungle! In the lead up to World War I, the Grand Kamerun settlement only encouraged France to avenge its honour lost at Agadir, while German war mongers only smelled Entente weakness, causing them to dream of even bigger concessions. WWI?s ?Kamerun Campaign? and the Fall of Grand Kamerun Upon the commencement of World War I, Britain and France were eager to invade and conquer Germany?s African colonies. On the other hand, the governments of the German African protectorates in (including Kamerun), knowing that they were severely outgunned, attempted to have their colonies remain neutral, while the powers duked it out in Europe. However, Britain and France would hear none of it. In what became known as the Kamerun Campaign (August 6, 1914 to March 10, 1916), Britain invaded Kamerun from Nigeria, France moved in from Gabon and Chad, while the Belgians provided support from the Congo. At the beginning of hostilities, France had forces in the region numbering over 20,000 troops; the British could muster 7,000 men; while the Germans could barely gather even 1,800 Schutztruppe to defend their massive colony. On paper, the campaign should have been short work for the Entente, yet the Germans put up a much tougher than expected resistance. Carl Heinrich Zimmermann, the commander of the Schutztruppe, decided upon a defensive strategy, whereby he would allow the Entente forces to take most of the country, while his men held on to certain key fortresses. He hoped that this would deplete the enemy and wear down their morale, so negating their inherent advantages, and eventually forcing them to withdraw. The Germans were soon able to raise their numbers to 6,000 troops, upon the recruitment of indigenous fighters. On the other side, the British command tended to be over-confident, seriously underestimating the German resistance, while the French and Belgians were mainly tasked with securing large expanses of undefended territory. A British force, under Brigadier General Frederick Hugh Cunliffe, attempted to take the German fortress of Mora, in the far north of Cameroon, but failed to breach its defenses, resulting in the lengthy Siege of Mora (August 26, 1914 to February 18, 1916). This distracted and taxed British operations for the remainder of the campaign. Sensing British weakness, the Germans went on the offensive, attacking the British at the Battle of Nsanakong (September 6, 1914); the British force was decimated, with the remaining troops limping back to Nigeria. Next, the Germans mauled the British at the First Battle of Garua (August 29-31, 1914), to the south of Mora. While the British invasion of the northern interior of Cameroon was a disaster, the situation along the coast was quite different. While the Germans had mined Doula?s harbour, the British and French navy bombarded the city, such that the German garrison surrendered on September 27, 1914. Meanwhile, French troops took the south coast, following the Battle of Ukoko (September 21, 1914). In the new year, the Germans held firm in their northern fortresses and the colonial capital of Jaunde (Yaound?. Emboldened, a German force even mounted a daring, albeit unsuccessful, raid into Nigeria, at the Battle of Gurin (April 29, 1915). However, towards mid-year, the British stated to gain traction, winning the Second Battle of Garua (May 31 to June 10, 1915) while a combined Entente force was victorious at the Battle of Ngaundere (June 29, 1915), in central Cameroon. However, General Cunliffe?s planned attack upon Jaunde had to be called off due to heavy rains. Yet, the British managed to take a key German fort at the Battle of Banjo (November 4-6, 1915). By the end of 1915, French and Belgian forces had taken practically all of Neukamerun, while the British were preparing an assault upon Jaunde. The Entente powers smelled victory and in February 1916 they agreed upon the Picot Provisional Partition Line, whereby Cameroon would be partitioned by Britain and France. Zimmerman realized that the ?gig was up?, Mora surrendered on February 18, and all the remaining German troops and civilians fled Cameroon to the neutral Spanish colony of R? Muni, where they were well treated, and allowed to return to Germany as free men, via the neutral Netherlands. The Versailles Conference (1919), which ordained the post-World War I settlement, confiscated Kamerun from Germany, and largely followed the conditions of the Picot Provisional Partition Line. Neukamerun was returned to French sovereignty, once again becoming part of French Equatorial Africa. A sliver of west-northwestern Cameroon, hugging the Nigerian border, running from Buea and Mount Cameroon and then diagonally into the interior, was placed under British rule as a League of Nations mandate, called ?British Cameroons? (which was subdivided into the Southern Cameroons and Northern Cameroons sections). The remaining bulk of the country became ?Cameroun?, a French-ruled League of Nations mandate. Interestingly, in 1940, early in World War II, Hitler seriously considered regaining Germany?s former colonies (including Kamerun), either through diplomatic means or by force. However, Germany?s failure during the Battle of Britain, aas well as other pressing matters, caused the notion to be dropped. Cameroun became an independent nation in 1960, with the South Cameroons part of British Cameroon joining the country in 1961 (Northern Cameroons became part of an independent Nigeria, hitherto called the Sardauna Province). References: British Library: Cartographic Items Maps 65110.(29.) and Cartographic Items Maps 65110.(28.); Sorbonne Universit? Car 3157; OCLC: 492570544; 813289043; 1031850693.
Last updated: Apr 16, 2021