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Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Sheltering Desert


If you liked Kon-Tiki and Seven Years in Tibet, you will like The Sheltering Desert, well known in Namibia (formerly South West Africa) but almost nowhere else.

I first came across the Afrikaans translation of The Sheltering Desert under its Afrikaans title Vlug in die Namib when I lived in South West Africa in 1968.


END OF THE ROAD  The heavy iron gates of Windhoek Prison fell to behind us with a clang. I turned round for a moment. Above the inner arch of the gates was an inscription, a little faded but still legible: "Alles zur Besserung!" Those reassuring words had obviously been left over from the days of German rule. So we were to be improved, reformed, rehabilitated as its inmates! In the ordinary way I should have laughed, but we didn't feel much like laughing.
The formalities were soon settled. Our names: Hermann Korn and Henno Martin. Profession: geologists. Then our belts and bootlaces were taken away. After that the cell doors closed behind us.
We were separated now and my sick comrade lay in the next cell. I didn't feel too good myself; we had been on the move all day in order to reach our destination before nightfall. The feeble light of a lamp in the prison yard fell through the bars of my cell window. I could not sleep.
I lay on my back and stared into the semi-darkness. How narrow and confined this small space was after the wide horizons and the high heavens of the desert in which we had lived for so long!


It's the amazing adventure tale of two German geologists working in South West Africa, Henno Martin and Hermann Korn, who decided to hide out for two years in the waterless Namib desert to avoid being interned during the Second World War.

The book seems to be out of copyright and is now freely available on the internet - click here. Enjoy!