How to lose a colony, honorably and comically

The fight between German and Australian troops for the Bismarck Archipelago in 1914 is described as a story of German resourcefulness.

This except concludes a historical excursus on “the tragedy of our colonization” [p. 228], as it pertains to the South Sea. But rather than in a tragic key, the Australian conquest of the Bismarck Archipelago in 1914 is told by Ross as a comedic tale of German resourcefulness. The postmaster is supposed to have used beer bottles as weapons for lack of alternatives, and in Ross’s telling, 46 German reservists put up a good fight against 1500 Australian soldiers before surrendering: “It was an honorable handover.” [p. 235]

In keeping with the German nationalist narrative of defeat, relations are good between Germans and Australians in the former German colony, until the much-maligned Versailles Treaty dictated the expropriation of German farmers. As in other chapters of Haha Whenua - Das Land, das ich gesucht (1933), Australia is presented as having to strain relations with German settlers against its better judgment. (See: Speculation displaces planting)

Joachim Schätz

Colin Ross. [Excerpt from] Wie die deutsche Südsee gewonnen und verloren wurde. In: Haha Whenua - das Land, das ich gesucht. Mit Kind und Kegel durch die Südsee. 4. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1933; 234–6.

Topic: The Great War
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30

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