Alternative History


Contract Frederiks-Vogelsang 1883 p1.jpg
Contract Frederiks-Vogelsang 1883 p2.jpg
Deutsche kolonien 1885 ausschnitt lüderitzland.jpg

Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz heading an expedition of German pioneers after gathering substantial funds from the sale of his tobbaco business after his beloved father departed this world earlier this year. He stated that his motivation behind this where the business friendly enviroment of the brotherly nation of ZAR. The expedition bought the anchorage at Angra Pequena and the land 5 miles (8.0 km) around it by Captain Josef Frederiks II of Bethanie for 100£ in gold and 200 rifles. Three months later, on 25 August, Frederiks sold Lüderitz a stretch of land 140 kilometres (87 mi) wide, between the Orange River and Angra Pequena, for £500 and 60 rifles.

While Chief Frederiks was only concerned about fertile land, and believed the shore of the Atlantic Ocean was of no value to his tribe, had no understanding of geographical miles, thus failed to understand that the land he sold was far bigger than he had thought he sold.

The contract specified its width in German geographical miles (7.4 km per mile) whereas Chied Frederiks had thought it referred to the English geographical mile (1.6 km per mile), which was the standard in the area. The dodgy contract became known as the "Mile Swindle" and Adolf Lüderitz was nicknamed "Lügenfritz" (lie buddy) by his fellow countrymen.

Lüderitz v. Frederiks case

When Chief Frederiks finally became aware that the land he sold comprised almost his entire tribal area, he pressed charges in the local Grootfontein court, which told him it had no jurisdiction over the area and he should bring this before the nearest court of Krugersberg. Chief Frederiks had no knowledge of the newly justice system in the area.

As the trial proceed the city of Lüderitz got its own court this the trial had to be relocated as per law. All these for the lowest tiers of the justice system and even though Adolf Lüderitz lost every single trial he kept appealing the case until he reached the Supreme Court in Pretoria. By this time Chief Frederiks had grown bankrupt by the increasing costs of the trial and started to work night shifts at factory as janitor. Even though the justice system had a reputation of delivered its decisions really fast, the lawyer fees and court fees were pilling up and Chief Frederiks was forced to plunge himself further and further into debt. The Supreme court concluded in favor of Chief Frederiks.

Subsequent events

By the time he the trial was finally concluded in favor of Chief Frederiks in the Lüderitz v. Frederiks case, most of the area he had sold was irreversibly developed with hundeads of new families having recently moved in, thus it could not be reclaimed by Chief Frederiks.

Adolf Lüderitz was unable to repay any owned damages back to Chief Frederiks as decreed by the Supreme Court's decision, since he had not only spended all his newly aquired wealth but also plunged himself into debt, buying other claims in the interior of South West Africa, hoping to run into some bountiful gold veins, however the area was almost completely devoid of any resources, barren to its core. He managed to sell all his claims into bankruptcy funds for a penny on the pound but that wasn't nearly enough to repay his vast debt. Chief Frederiks also had difficulties repaying his fast accumulating debt until he suddenly collapsed from exhaustion from excessive work to repay his increasing debts during his work as janitor and got fired for being lazy.

Adolf Lüderitz therefore declared bankrupcy soon after, followed by Chief Frederiks a few months later. Both got imprisoned as was the law for bankruptcies. In a tragic twist of fate they've found themselves in the same prison, sharing the same cell. Though the two men eventually forgave each other, the press uncovered this affair becoming a huge national issue over the next few months.

The conclusion of the Lüderitz v. Frederiks case surprisingly gathered a lot of unexpected publicity, sparking a major debate. It divided the public on two sides. The two sides, the Fundamentalists and the Rationalists fought over the proposed justice system and bankruptcy procedure reforms.

The people's support for the Fundamentalists was overwhelming and the Volksraad finally passed a resolution instituting the Fundamentalists "basic rights" with very thin majority. On the coming months several people from the rationalist camp would question the constitutionality of the reform, same even going further stating it was unconstitutional. An appeal made by a group of digruntled rationalists to the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Fundamentalists with a very thin majority in the Fundamentalists v. Rationalists case.

See also