~ Shop ~

CAMEROON AND TOGO: Kamerun mit Togo 1:2 000 000. Bearbeitet von Max Moisel.



The first printing of the first integrated map of Cameroon predicated upon systematic scientific surveys, 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; created by Max Moisel, Germany’s chief colonial cartographer, and published in Berlin shortly before World War I’s ‘Kamerun Campaign’, whereupon Entente forces gradually conquered the colony; plus, important cartographic insets, including Paul Sprigade’s map of Togo – very rare on the market.


Colour print, dissected into 20 sections and mounted upon original linen, original pastedown printed title and advertisement panels to verso (Very Good, clean and bright, just some repairs to some clean splits of linen backing along folds), 87.5 x 66 cm (34.5 x 26 inches).




This highly important work is the first printing of the first integrated map of Cameroon (German: Kamerun) to be predicated upon advanced systematic trigonometric surveys.  It was drafted by Max Moisel, the chief official cartographer for Germany’s colonies; Cameroon had the distinction of being the only colony that Moisel personally visited to oversee the surveying operations.  Interestingly, the map shows Cameroon in its most expansive historical form, when it was known as ‘Grand Kamerun’.  The colony maintained its super-size 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).  The map, issued in Berlin in 1913, appeared on the eve of World War I, such that it served as the basis for the cartography used by both sides during the conflict’s ‘Kamerun Campaign’ (1914-16), when Britain, France and Belgium struggled to conquer the colony from the German Schutztruppe. 

The map embraces all of Grand Kamerun in 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 Río Muni (today mainland Equatorial Guinea).

Topographical relief is shown by shading, with heights rising up to above 4000 metres (Mount Cameroon, the country’s highest peak is 4,070 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 in the legend in the lower margin.

The ‘Erklärungen’ (Explanations), below the title in the upper right, identifies the symbols used to interpret the vast wealth of information showcased upon the map, including: the colour coding employed to describe the colonial territories of the different European powers; railways (both completed and under construction); main roads and trails; in the seas, the shipping lines run by different named companies, as well as submarine cables; the limits of navigation on rivers (shown with an anchor); telegraph lines; post offices; telegraph offices; wireless stations; customs posts; international and district boundaries; administrative headquarters (underlined); and military outposts (underlined with intermittent lines).

Special attention should be given to Duala (Douala), the country’s largest city and main port, and Jaunde (Yaoundé), 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 land concessions of the South Cameroon Company, the ‘Konzessionsgebiet Gesellschaft Süd-Kamerun’, a major chartered land-plantation enterprize, which appears as two large parcels of territory outlined in yellow in the colony’s southeast.

Importantly, the present map is the first printing of the first integrated map of Cameroon predicated upon systematic scientific surveys; by ‘integrated’ we mean a map as single piece, or on a single view.  The present map was distilled from Moisel’s Karte von Kamerun (Berlin: Dietrich Remer, 1910-11), composed of 31 separately issued sheets done to a very large scale of 1:300,000.  This amazing, yet unwieldly, map is seldom ever found complete, and cannot realistically provide a perspective over the entire colony in a single view.  Thus, the present work is the first practically consultable map of all of Cameroon.

The present map includes a number on insets, the most important of which is the map of Togo, in the upper left corner, a fine, detailed map of Germany’s other West African colony, drafted by Moisel’s longtime colleague Paul Sprigade.  To the left of the Togo map is an inset detailing eastern Nigeria and Cameroon borderlands, while below that is an Übersichtkarte (overview map) of Cameroon within its greater regional geographic context.  In the bottom centre is an inset featuring the marine/river transport routes up the Congo River to reach Grand Kamerun’s southeastern panhandle.

While the map’s coverage of the traditional core of Kamerum is predicated upon systematic trigonometric surveys, of which Moisel, in part, personally supervised, the charting of Neu Kamerun, the territories in the east ceded to Germany in 1911, are taken from the best French scientific surveys.

Moisel’s mapping remained the ‘gold standard’ for the cartography of Cameroon for many years.  During World War I, it was used by all sides, with the British, French and Belgian militaries publishing their own versions of Moisel’s map.  In the postwar period, Moisel’s mapping formed the basis for the official cartography of both the British and French Cameroon mandates.


Max Moisel and the Cartography of Germany’s Colonies

Germany, a country that became unified only in 1871, did not possess any overseas colonies prior to the 1880s.  However, Germany possessed about the most technically sophisticated land surveying and map publishing capabilities in the world.  Moreover, many Germans, either on their own commercial initiative, or working for foreign governments, had made many of the most important maps of overseas lands of the 18th and 19th Centuries.  Indeed, many of the seminal scientific maps of the Middle East, South Africa, Indonesia, Latin America and the United States were made by German cartographers.

In the 1880s, Germany acquired a number of colonies, including German East Africa, German Southwest Africa, Togoland, Cameroon, Eastern New Guinea, and the Caroline Islands; many of these lands were hitherto not well mapped.  New surveys needed to be commissioned and the resulting maps edited and published.  In the early years of their colonial era, the German State Colonial Office, the Reichs-Kolonialamt, had to decide whether to set up its own mapmaking agency (expensive and technically difficult) or to find a more innovative and easier approach.

The firm of Dietrich Reimer (founded in 1845) in Berlin, was one of the world’s most esteemed cartographic publishing houses, long associated with Heinrich Kiepert, the foremost modern cartographer of Turkey and the Middle East.  Since 1891, the firm was led by Ernst Vohsen, an old Africa hand who was a director of the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft.  Under Vohsen’s influence the Reichs-Kolonialamt increasingly turned to the Reimer firm to fulfil its map drafting and publishing commissions.

Enter Max Moisel (1869 – 1920), a cartographer who had joined the Reimer firm in 1888.  Moisel was so exceedingly gifted at analysing and editing sources as they arrived from the field, sorting the ‘wheat form the chaff’, and drafting finished maps, that he brought the firm’s colonial mapping up to an entirely new level of excellence.  Working closely with his long-time colleague Paul Sprigade (1863 – 1928), he was increasingly given ever more important colonial commissions and in 1895 was made the editor of the Kleinen Deutschen Kolonialatlas, a continually updated project to issue pocket atlases of the German colonies.  He was also instrumental in the production of the Karte von Deutche-Ostafriaka, a monumental survey of the colony, published in a series of 29 sheets (Berlin: Reimer, 1895-7).

In 1899, in good part due to Vohsen’s lobbying and Moisel and Sprigade’s talent, the Reichs-Kolonialamt decided upon a permanent solution towards the matter of their cartographic needs.  They agreed to create the Kolonial-kartographischen Institut, that would operate as part of the Reimer firm, working out of their premises and manned by their employees, but would be funded entirely be the Reichs-Kolonialamt.  The Institut would be given a monopoly on official cartographic work relating the German colonies.  Moisel was appointed as the as the first director of the Institut, and with this new support and funding achieved great things.

Notably, Moisel and Sprigade published the Grosser deutscher Kolonialatlas (1901) and Moisel drafted a number of fine large format maps of individual colonies.

In 1908, Moisel travelled to Cameroon, where he learned first-hand about the countryside and the nature of surveying in African frontier environments.  This led to the publication of his grand Karte von Kamerun, a massive work on 31 sheets (Berlin: Reimer, 1910-11).

On the eve of the World War I, the Kolonial-kartographischen Institut employed over 60 mapmakers and support staff and played a major role in informing the German military effort in Africa, which in the case of southern Africa theatre was (unlike the general conflict) quite successful.  Nevertheless, Germany lost the war and with it all her colonies, so compelling the Institut to close in 1920.  Sadly, Moisel died few months later.

Interestingly, Moisel and the Institut’s cartography had an enduring legacy, although perhaps not the one that the mapmakers would have intended.  While the German maps served as the basis for the cartography adopted by the former German colonies’ new masters (often the British), it was the revival of the maps at the beginning of the World War II that was most striking.  In 1940, Hitler seriously considered regaining the former German colonies, either through diplomatic means or by force, and he charged the Reichsamts für Landesaufnahme (the German Surveying Office) with issuing revised editions of Moisel and Sprigade’s maps (including the present map of Kamerun with Togo), with the implication that these lands were still rightly German territory, illegally occupied by the foreign powers.  However, the Third Reich soon became caught up in events in Europe and abandoned the notion.


The Rise of 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 (an advertisement for Woermann appears on the pastedown verso panel of the present map!).  This venture proved commercially successful, and in 1874, the Woermann agents Johannes Thormählen and Wilhelm Jantzen formed their own firm, Jantzen & Thormählen.  Over the succeeding years, Jantzen & Thormählen 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 Möwe, 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 DeutschSüdwestafrika (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 Süd-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 Bonabéri (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 Eséka, southeast of Jaunde (Yaoundé), 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 km² of land from its colony of French Equatorial Africa (French: Afrique-Équatoriale française, 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 km² (as opposed to old Kamerun’s 465,000 km²).    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 Río 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 (Yaoundé).  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 Río 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, as 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).


A Note on Rarity

While there seem to be about two dozen or so examples of the present edition of Moisel’s Kamerun mit Togo in institutional examples, most of the holding libraries seem to have acquired their examples shortly after the map was issued, perhaps as general subscriber to Dietrich Reimer’s publications.

The map is, however, very rare on the market; the only sales record we can trace is from a 2004 German auction.


References: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin: Kart. C 13403/15/1; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Mapp. XX,76 du; British Library: Cartographic Items Maps.2017.d.497.; Bibliothèque nationale de France, département Cartes et plans, GE C-4369; OCLC: 164570686, 248561394.

Additional information



Place and Year


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “CAMEROON AND TOGO: Kamerun mit Togo 1:2 000 000. Bearbeitet von Max Moisel.”