The Great War In The Heart Of Darkness: Hoover Acquires General Joseph Aymerich’s Manuscript On The French Conquest Of Cameroon

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Map of the combined advance to Yaoundé in October 1915–January 1916

Above: Map of the combined advance to Yaoundé in October 1915–January 1916

 

General Aymerich’s 1933 book
General Aymerich’s 1933 book
Brazzaville on the Congo River
Brazzaville on the Congo River

The First World War was truly global in scale, with the entente and central powers engaged in hostilities not only in Europe but also in Asia and Africa.  General Joseph Aymerich’s two-year campaign against the German forces in their colony of Kamerun (Cameroon) was an important episode in the successful French and British efforts to eliminate Germany from the African continent.

Joseph Gaudérique Aymerich (1858–1937), a graduate of the Military Academy of Saint-Cyr, was a commander with extensive experience in the French colonial empire.  Before 1914, he had participated in campaigns in Indochina, Sudan, Dahomey (now Benin), and the Ivory Coast.  At the beginning of World War I, as supreme commander of French Equatorial Africa, he led French colonial forces into German Cameroon and by early 1916 had conquered it for France, becoming the colony’s chief administrator. 

Aymerich’s campaign account was published as a book in Paris in 1933 titled La Conquête du Cameroun (The Conquest of Cameroon), a copy which is in the Hoover Library. The just-acquired original French manuscript of 269 pages, however, is more extensive than the book, including seven additional hand-drawn maps supplemented by five lectures on the French colonization of North and West Africa from 1880 until the 1900s.  General Aymerich delivered those lectures at the Académie du Var in Toulon in 1923 and 1924. 

The Aymerich manuscript is thus a significant addition to Hoover Library & Archives’ World War I holdings.

Maciej Siekierski siekierski [at] stanford.edu

 

 

Map of the Wouri River estuary and the city of Douala
Map of the Wouri River estuary and the city of Douala