Kaiser-Wilhelmsland was part of
German New Guinea
German New Guinea (German:
Deutsch-Neuguinea), the South Pacific protectorate of the German
Empire. Named in honour of Wilhelm II, who was the
German Emperor and
King of Prussia, it included the northern part of present-day Papua
New Guinea. From 1884 until 1918, the territory was a protectorate of
the German Empire. Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, New Pomerania, the Bismarck
Archipelago, the northern Solomon Islands, the Caroline Islands,
Palau, Nauru, the Mariana Islands, and the
Marshall Islands comprised
German New Guinea.
Most of the German settlers to
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland were plantation
owners, miners, and government functionaries, and the number of
European settlers, including non-Germans, was never very high. In
Lutheran and Catholic congregations sent clergy to establish
missions, who experienced moderate, but very slow, success with the
indigenous peoples. Missionaries and plantation owners alike were
limited by tropical diseases, travel, and communication barriers.
The protectorate was never fully explored by the Germans, although in
1914, the Imperial German Government mounted an expedition to explore
and map the interior.
Lutheran missionaries were frequently the first
Europeans to explore the interior and examine the different fauna and
At the outbreak of war in 1914, the German protectorate was quickly
overrun by British-Australian troops. In 1918, as part of the
settlements ending World War I,
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland was administered
by the Commonwealth of Australia, a British dominion.
Imperial Colonial Flag of the German Empire
2 Natural features
3 Indigenous population
4 See also
6 External links
The coastline of the northern and eastern portions of
New Guinea had
been charted by navigators in the early 17th century, and the visible
mountain ranges named by British admiralty navigators later in the
century. Most German surveying efforts had focused on coastal regions
and river basins, where Germans had established plantations. The
boundary between Papua and Kaiser Wilhelmsland had been established by
a joint British-German expedition in 1909, the interior had not been
mapped. Since then, Papuan gold prospectors had crossed into German
territory which, from the German perspective, made the accuracy of the
In the 1870s and 1880s German commercial firms began to site trading
stations in New Guinea. Agents of J.C. Godeffroy & Sohn reached
Bismarck Archipelago from the
Caroline Islands in 1872. In 1875
Hersheim & Company moved to the Archipelago.
Map of Kaiser Wilhelms-Land and Ost Neu Guinea
See also: German Colonial Empire
In 1884, the
German New Guinea
German New Guinea Company was founded in
Berlin by Adolph
von Hansemann and a syndicate of German bankers for the purpose of
colonising and exploiting resources on Neu Guinea (German New
Guinea), where German interest grew after British Queensland's
annexation of part of eastern New Guinea. This expedition was with the
knowledge and blessing of the German Chancellor, Count Otto von
Bismarck, and with secrecy and speed an expedition was fitted out
under Dr Otto Finsch, ornithologist and explorer.
His task was to select land for plantation development on the
north-east coast of
New Guinea and establish trading posts. Its
influence soon grew to encompass the entire north-eastern part of New
Guinea and some of the islands off the coast.
The Neuguinea Compagnie expedition left Sydney for
New Guinea in the
steamer Samoa captained by Eduard Dallmann. On 19 August, Chancellor
Bismarck ordered the establishment of a German protectorate in the New
Britain Archipelago and north-eastern New Guinea.
In 1885 and 1887,
Johann Flierl established missionary stations in
Simbang and Timba Island. After malaria epidemics in 1889 and again in
1891 killed almost half of the European settlers on the coast in
Finschhafen, many of the Europeans moved toward Friedrich
Wilhelmshafen (now Madang). Flierl established a Mission station at
the Sattelberg, 700 metres (2,297 ft) in the highlands. In 1890
and 1891, he built the Sattelberg Mission Station there and
constructed a road approximately 24 kilometres (15 mi) between
the station and the Finsch harbour (Finschhafen), which cut the
travelling time from three days to five hours.
German colonial rule in
New Guinea lasted for a period of thirty
years, For the first fifteen years the colony was administered under
imperial charters by a private company, in the manner of the old
British and Dutch East India company, but with far less success. From
1899 to 1914, the Imperial Government administered German New Guinea
through a governor, who was assisted after 1904 by a nominated
When the Imperial Government took over the running of the colony in
1899, its over-riding objective was rapid economic development, based
on a German- controlled plantation economy.
In April 1911, Dr Wegener, director of the Meteorological
Observatory in Apia, stated he was on his way to German New Guinea, to
make preliminary arrangements for a series of journeys by balloon
across the mainland, the purpose of which was to make aerial
In late 1913, the Imperial Colonial Office appointed Hermann Detzner
to lead an expedition to survey the border between the British
protectorate, called Papua, and the German territory and to survey and
map the interior. Detzner, an Austrian, was a military surveyor.
The expedition set off along the Langimar-Watut divide, and travelled
by raft down the
Watut River to its junction with the Markham River,
and on to the
Lutheran Mission station at Gabmadzung (near the Lae
Further information: Asian and Pacific theatre of World War I
German hotel at Herbertshöhe (Kokopo) on New Pomerania, circa 1912.
The small German colony in Herbertshöhe capitulated to the Australian
troops by mid-September 1914.
On 4 August 1914, Britain declared war on Germany. As World War I
spread to the Pacific, Australian troops invaded German New Guinea,
taking the German barracks in Herbertshöhe (present day Kokopo) and
forcing the defending German colonial troops to capitulate on 21
September after their defeat at Bita Paka.
On 6 August 1914, residents of the Protectorate were notified by
proclamation that a state of war existed between Germany, and England,
France and Russia. During this time Detzner continued surveying and
avoiding allied forces.
On 11 November 1918, Detzner was advised that the war had ended and
surrendered himself at
Finschafen complete with sword and sun helmet.
He was interned at Sydney and returned to Germany.
Main article: History of Papua New Guinea
In 1918, Kaiser Wilhelmsland and the other territories that comprised
German New Guinea
German New Guinea (
New Pomerania and the islands of the Bismarck
Archipelago) were administered by the Commonwealth of Australia.
Beginning in 1920, Australia, under a mandate from the League of
Nations, governed the former German territory of New Guinea. It was
administered under this mandate until the Japanese invasion in
December 1941 (Operation Mo). Most of the territory of New Guinea,
including the islands of Bougainville, and New Britain, was occupied
by Japanese forces before recapture during the final months of the war
in the Australian-American
New Guinea campaign.
Further information: Geography of Papua New Guinea
Quaternary glaciers created much of the topography of
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland. Recent studies suggest
Mount Wilhelm held
approximately 65 square kilometres (25 sq mi) of glacial
ice. Further north, closer to the Equator, the glaciers left behind
large rubble fields.
The territory of
Kaiser-Wilhelmsland was largely mountainous, with
Mount Wilhelm 4,509 metres (14,793 ft) the highest peak of the
Hagan Range, which separated the protectorate from the British Papua.
There are several major rivers, notably the Sepik River 1,126
kilometres (700 mi) which drops from the Highlands and winds
through lowland swamp plains to the north coast.
Markham River flows 180 kilometres (112 mi) from the
Finisterre Range and ends in the Huon Gulf. The Huon Peninsula, named
for the French explorer Jean-Michel Huon de Kermadec, has raised
beaches, usually created by the combination of tectonic coastal uplift
and quaternary sea-level fluctuations. The Saruwaged massif, with its
twin peaks of Bangeta and Saruwaged, dominate the Saruwaged Range;
rugged and steep, the massif reaches 4,000 metres (13,123 ft),
and is surrounded by jungles at its base.
Near Mount Hagen, archaeologists have identified the Kuk Swamp
(5°47′1.36″S 144°19′54.2″E / 5.7837111°S
144.331722°E / -5.7837111; 144.331722), one of the oldest
agricultural drainage sites in Australasia; the site has been
identified as a
UNESCO site, and is on the list of recommended World
Linguistic features suggest the origins of the population. Along the
southeast coast and in the Markham Valley, the Austronesia family of
languages predominate. The two main languages were
Kâte and Yabim,
Kâte spoken in the mountainous hinterlands and Yabim on the
coastal areas, particularly on coast of the Huon Peninsula. The
Non-Austronesia languages are heard most commonly in the mountain
Prefecture Apostolic of Kaiserwilhelmsland
Dutch New Guinea
^ "Samoa Travels". World Digital Library. 1888. Retrieved 12 July
^ Linke, p. 3; K. L. Spinks, "The Wahgi River Valley of Central New
Guinea," The Geographical Journal, 87:3, March 1936, 222–28, p. 222.
^ de:Hernsheim & Co
^ a b c d e Linke, R 2006, The influence of German surveying on the
development of New Guinea, Association of Surveyors of PNG. Accessed
25 January 2014.
^ Sack, P. G. "Flierl, Johann (1858–1947)," Australian Dictionary of
Biography, Online Edition, 2006, updated continuously, Australian
National University. ISSN 1833-7538.
^ de:Kurt Wegener
^ Robert Linke, The influence of German surveying on the development
of New Guinea, Shaping the Change: XXIII FIG Congress, Munich,
Germany, 8–13 October 2006, pp. 1–17, p. 10.
^ J. A. Peterson, S Chandra and C Lundberg, Landforms from the
Quaternary glaciation of Papua New Guinea: an overview of ice extent
during the LGM.pp. 1–18
^ Peterson, p. 13.
Prefecture Apostolic of Kaiserwilhelmsland – Catholic Encyclopedia
Former German colonies and protectorates
New Swabia (claimed by N