Senior Executive; Diplom Biologist from Phillips University of Marburg, Germany; German national with permanent Peruvian residency, Fully trilingual (English-Spanish-German), as well as basic knowledge of french. Certified by the International Coaching Community (ICC) and working as freelance coach helping people to grow personally and profesionally; Executive Director of the Peruvian conservation NGO Mundo Azul with 32 years of experience in leadership positions in conservation and research. Executive Director of the Interamerican Institute for Integral Ecology, a Peruvian NGO specializing on eco-efficiancy and sustainabilitiy; 17 years of experience in eco-tourism development, management and guiding. Book author, film maker and artist. Download full curriculum    
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My family history

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Namensverteilung The history of my family can be followed back over a time of several centuries. The first time our families’ name was mentioned in 1438 in tax papers of the city of Trendelburg, being stored in the city archive of Marburg. Trendelburg is located only nine kilometers away from the city of Hofgeismar where I was born. It is clear that all of the time over the centuries our family stayed settling in the area along the river Diemel working mostly in agriculture. There are only approximately 160 people with our family name in Germany and most of them are concentrated in the area around Hofgeismar/Kassel, shown as red colored in the map.

In its earliest version the family name was “byt der Moeln”, meaning “close o the mill“ and indicating that my family where millers. With the change of the German dialects and language over time the name was varied several times till it got its final version “Austermühle” in 1815:

1438 Byt der Moeln

1474 Ut der Mollen

1477 Uth der Mollen

1489 Uss der möllen

1501 Uth der Mollen

1544 Aus der Moln

1568 Aus der Mühln

1648 Aus der Mühlen

1766 Ausdermühle

1815 Austermühle

0006 It was my great grandfather Johannes Austermühle (standing on the left side in the picture) who broke with the very sessile family tradition, having being infected with the virus of adventurism. So he started looking out for his luck by leaving to the German colony German South West Africa, today Namibia.

The first territorial claim on a part of Namibia came when Britain occupied Walvis Bay  in 1878. The annexation was an attempt to forestall German ambitions in the area. In 1883, a German trader, Adolf Lüderitz, bought huge terrains from the Nama chief Joseph Fredericks. The price he paid was 10,000 marks and 260 guns. Believing that Britain was soon about to declare the whole area a protectorate, Lüderitz advised the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck to claim it.

0017 In 1884 Bismarck did so, thereby establishing German South West Africa as a colony.

Under the leadership of the tribal chief Hendrik Witbooi, the Namaqua put up a fierce resistance to the German occupation. Contemporary media called the conflict “The Hottentot Uprising”. German troops were deployed and the resistance proved to be unsuccessful, however, and in 1894 Witbooi was forced to sign a “protection treaty” with the Germans.

0008 The treaty allowed the Namaqua to keep their arms, and Witbooi was released having given his word of honour not to continue with the Hottentot uprising. Major Theodor Leutwein was appointed governor of German South-West Africa. He tried without great success to apply the principle of “colonialism without bloodshed”. The protection treaty did have the effect of stabilising the situation but real peace was never achieved between the colonialists and the natives.

The picture above shows the home of the family Austermühle near Windhoek.

0007Being the only German colony considered suitable for white settlement at the time, Namibia attracted a large influx of German settlers. In 1903 there were 3,700 Germans living in the area, and by 1910 their number had increased to 13,000. Another reason for German settlement was the discovery of diamonds in 1908. Diamond production continues to be a very important part of Namibia’s economy.

My great grandfather Johannes Austermühle in Africa (right side ). Girl holding firearm

0009 Aparrently also Johannes Austermühle was attracted by the perspective of wealth in the new colony. There he worked as smith and apparently the family was involved too in gold-mining. Apparently it went economically well for the family as one can see them in old pictures with bottles of Champaign in their hands, standing in front of pick-up trucks (surely expensive at that time) and during family trips to the country side. However it also was a dangerous life as one can see even the girls carrying fire-arms.

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Family trip to the country side. My Great grandfather Johannes stands beside the cactus. His wife Bianca sits at his feet.

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0016 The ongoing local rebellions escalated in 1904 into the Herero and Namaqua Wars when the Herero attacked remote farms on the countryside, killing approximately 150 Germans (men, woman and children). The outbreak of rebellion was considered to be a result of Theodor Leutwein’s softer tactics, and he was replaced by the more notorious General Lothar von Trotha. In the beginning of the war the Herero had the upper hand. Soon the Namaqua people joined the war, again under the leadership of Hendrik Witbooi. To cope with the situation, Germany sent 14,000 additional troops who soon crushed the rebellion in the Battle of Waterberg in 1905.

Earlier von Trotha issued an ultimatum to the Herero, denying them citizenship rights and ordering them to leave the country or be killed. In order to escape, the Herero retreated into the waterless Omaheke region, a western arm of the Kalahari Desert, where many of them died of thirst. The German forces guarded every water source and were given orders to shoot any adult male Herero on sight.

0018 These tragic events, known as the Herero and Namaqua Genocide, resulted in the death of between 24,000 and 65,000 Herero (estimated at 50% to 70% of the total Herero population) and 10,000 Nama (50% of the total Nama population). The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and from consumption of well water which had been poisoned by the Germans in the Namib Desert.

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On the 27th of January 1912 the monument of the German rider was inaugurated in Windhoek in order to remember hundreds of German civilians and soldiers fallen during the war. Here a family picture taking soon after the inauguration.

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Johannes and his wife Bianca – here in a picture with their 11 children in 1919 – lived close to Windhoek. My grandfather Herman is the boy in the second row on the left side.

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0011 After the First World War the colony was given to be governed by England and South Africa and the German settlers were forced to leave. The family returned to Hofgeismar in Germany, were they bought this house. My grandfather lived here all his live, I spent a great deal of my youth here being with my grandmother while my parents worked and still my uncle Horst lives in this house.

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0012My great grandfather in the forest “Urwald” between Hofgeismar and Sababurg. This forest is carcterized by oak-trees, which are hundreds of years old. Johannes stands in front of one of these old trees that are still standing in the forest. I also played around these trees.

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A few years later my grandfather Herman returned to Africa to work there as a carpenter. In this picture he stands in front of the Christ Church in Windhoek, a historic landmark and Lutheran church. After the end of the wars between the Germans and the Herero in 1907, the church was built and opened on October 16, 1910 being dedicated as the Church of Peace.

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He later on returned to Germany where he met my grandmother Else, fell in love and married her.

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In he left picture my grandmother is posing at the age of 2/3 years with her real mother, who died only a few years later. My great grandfather later remarried. Later as a young girl my grandmother came for work to Hofgeismar.

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Here in Hofgeismar she met my grandfather.

They fell in love and married.

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After returning from Africa my grandfather Herman worked at the train station. And he played in the music band of the German army. Of course he was called to arms when the Second World War approached and he served in Russia driving trains. In one occasion he managed to save a train from a Russian assault and was decorated with the iron cross.

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After surviving the war he returned to work for many years for the German train company till he was severely injured in an accident and retired. Sadly he died before I could know him.

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Together they had three children: My father Werner Austermühle, being the youngest one, my uncle Horst and my aunt Annemarie.

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Finaly a few childhood pictures of my father:

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