German New Guinea and Australian Military rule in New Guinea.

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”
George Santayana.

The purpose of this Chapter is to provide an overview of German expansion in the Pacific, prior to the Great War and to articulate the implications for Australia when the war broke out. It will provide a background, to the occupation of German New Guinea from 1884, and subsequently by Australian troops from 11 September 1914.

German New Guinea also provides a backstop of the external threat posed by having German New Guinea so close to her borders.
Prior to the Great War, Australians, especially Queenslanders were deeply concerned about the growing influence in New Guinea. Queenslanders held grave fears that the Germans might invade Queensland. As a result of this external threat, the Queensland colonial government acquired the eastern part of New Guinea, mainly for security concerns, in 1883.However Britain did not approve of the Queensland strategic acquisition and did a deal with Germany, which resulted in Britain, took Papua. This move was seen as an important defence strategy for Australia.
Besides being the first major battle in which Australia was involved, the significance of German New Guinea lay in the fact that since 1905, there were widespread fears of German imperialism, so close to Australian borders .German New Guinea and her Pacific possessions, created a very nervous Australian public .When war broke out, public opinion in Australia saw not only Germany, but Britain’s allay Japan, as the major military threat to Australia’s security.
It needs to be noted that the 1914 campaign to seize the German possessions in New Guinea and the South West Pacific at the beginning of the Great War ,was the first military operation Australia was involved in and did this not as an dependant allay in Australian warfighting.

Germany engaged in colonization for a short period of time, lasting for little more than 30 years. It first became a colonial power in the Pacific from 1884 onwards, mainly in response to the scramble for colonies by other European powers.
Map 1, clearly contrasts the scramble for colonies between the British and German Empires up to 1914.

The Scope of British and German Empires in 1914.

Map 1 illustrates that the expansion of the German Empire into the Pacific and Africa. Economic interests and strategic defence were at the heart of Germany’s push into East New Guinea, and the Pacific. Germany used her Pacific colonies to expand her naval power. By the start of the new century, Germany had strategic naval stations in the South Pacific.

In the early part of the German rule in New Guinea, the aim was to establish a settlers’ colony in New Guinea, but this did not materialize. Like the other colonization that Africa, the prime intent of the colonial power was to make money. Trade and commercial endeavors were also part of the German strategy, in order to take her place and become a great colonial power like Britain.

The German New Guinea Company was established by the grant of an Imperial Charter to the company in 1885. It was a commercial undertaking first and foremost. Its mission was to develop Pax Germanica. The establishment costs of GNG were accepted by the Neu Guinea Compagnie (NGC) until 1899, but it was a haphazard and experimental undertaking which was expensive, both financially, and in human life. When the German government assumed administrative and financial control in 1899, the development of GNG had generally progressed in line with former Chancellor Bismarck’s view that Germany’s colonies should be treated as economic enterprises. 

Like all forms of colonization, economic development came at a high human price. According to Firth:

“Equally, no judgment can avoid the fact that the Germans killed more people than British or Australians in neighboring colonies in Melanesia.”

From 1884 to 1902, coffee, tobacco and cotton were the cash crops, but the exports were copra, pearl-shells and tortoise-shells, cotton, cotton seeds and fibers. From 1902 onwards, with cash crops unprofitable, the focus shifted to large-scale coconut plantation, with copra becoming the most successful cash crop.

Scramble for Colonial Territory: An Overview

Prior to 1884, Bismarck had opposed German Colonial engagement. Bismarck strongly held the view that there were few economic or political benefits in owning Colonies. What changed his mind was that there was intense political lobbying from within Germany. German traders, bankers, merchants and industrialists lobbied to support and extend Colonization. Coming from an economic backdrop of a depressed German economy, these groups saw many benefits to stimulating the economy via colonization. They influenced Bismarck into accepting a more positive pro-colonial stance, based upon the notion of advocating the growth of industrial output and a reduction in unemployment and simultaneously extending the domestic markets beyond national boundaries. Industry, trade and the shipping sectors demanded that the German state acquire overseas colonies, hence Germany entered the race for colonial possessions. By 1900, Germany had assembled a portfolio of colonial territory that increased the German Empire five-fold.

Africa was the jewel in the crown of the German Empire. Southwest Africa, the Cameroon and Togoland were all claimed by 1884. In 1885, Germany acquired its portion of East Africa. Around the Pacific region, the southwestern part of New Guinea, together with the archipelago of New Ireland and Britain were claimed in 1884. The Marshall Islands were added in the following year and, by 1898 Germany had signed a 99 year lease with China to acquire Kiachow as a trading post. Germany then purchased the Caroline, Mariana and Palau islands from Spain in the same year.

Map of German Colonies in the pacific.

There were also military reasons for colonization. For example, in military terms, GNG, combined with the Marshall Islands and the Carolines, provided coaling and later radio and telegraphic stations for the Reich Marine. [Navy] The colonies played a vital role for Bismarck and Germany's Weltpolitik. [World politics] This strengthened her strategic position in the Pacific region. The Germans were able to communicate from New Guinea, Caroline Islands, Samoa and Nauru with their naval headquarters at Kiachao. The wireless stations erected at Apia and Rabaul enabled them also to contact Berlin directly.

Bismarck Archipelago was the chain of islands to the north and north-east of German New Guinea. From 1886, the northern section of the Solomon Islands, Shortland Islands, Buka, Bougainville, Santa Islands and Choisen were added as German possessions. In 1899, the transfer of power from the New Guinea Company to the Reich meant that the territory became the Imperial Colony of German New Guinea. Part of the Samoa agreement [Germany, United States and Britain] in 1890 saw a realignment of German territory.

In the late 19th Century the German Empire, British Empire and the United States all had commercial and territorial ambitions in the pacific region. With respect to the Samoan Islands, this caused military conflict within the region. It resulted in the Tripartite Convention of 1899, in Washington, D.C. At this conference the three countries signed an agreement which partitioned Samoa into two parts. Western Samoa went to Germany and the islands of Eastern Samoa went to the United States. The British ceded their rights to Western Samoa, in exchange for Tonga and some German territories in the Solomon Islands and in West Africa. Germany controlled Samoa from 1900 onward. It was administered by German New Guinea.

In 1898, Germany purchased the Marianne and Caroline Islands from Spain and incorporated them into the administration. 1906 saw the Marshall Islands, a German Protectorate, which also included Nauru, being incorporated in German New Guinea. As early as that 1906, there had been growing concern in Australia about Germany’s influence and naval power in the Pacific. Thompson noted:

“William Cresswell, the Australian naval Commandant, warned Prime Minister Deakin in 1906 of the danger of German ships to Australia’s commerce in time of war.”

But during this time, the Australian government did very little pre-war contingency planning, despite the warnings and the extensive communication network for the German Pacific fleet.

By 1911, Germany had established herself as an important player in trade and military influence. The historical research confirms that the Imperial German Navy posed a real and major threat to Australian interests. For example, Australia relied heavily on access to the shipping lanes across the Indian Ocean so as to be able to send its exports to the Mother country and its troops to Europe and the Middle East. According to Mackenzie:

“When the First World War broke out, the German Squadron in the Pacific comprised of Cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Emden, Leipzig and Nurnberg. Also small cruisers including the Cormoran and Gein. The German squadron was formidable.”

On the 7th August, 1914 the British War Office requested that Australia seize the German possessions in the Pacific, including Nauru, Caroline Islands and New Guinea. The key motivation for the request was to prevent Germany from passing on key information to the German East Asiatic Squadron of the Imperial German navy.
The Australia government acted swiftly and deployed the Royal Australian Navy [RAN], to eliminate enemy shipping.

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, questions of naval strategy and communications drew immediate attention to the whole German sphere of influence within the Pacific region. On the 6th August, the British War Office requested that Australia seize the German possessions in the Pacific, including Nauru, Caroline Islands and New Guinea. The key motivation for the request was to prevent Germany from passing on key information to the German East Asiatic Squadron of the Imperial German navy. The Australia government acted swiftly and deployed the Royal Australian Navy [RAN], to eliminate enemy shipping.

The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force [AN&MEF] were spurred into action via Operational Order No.1.Namely to seize the German New Guinea. Australia was also required to occupy the territory under British flag and establish a military administration. This was a turning point as Australia had to act indepentdly

On the 11 of August 1914, the Australian destroyers HMAS Parramatta, HMAS Yarra and HMAS Warrego, escorted by the light Cruiser HMAS Sydney, were dispatched to attack the German anchorages in Simpsonhaven and Matuupi Harbour, New Britain, only to find that the German squadron had left. Landing parties were placed ashore at Rabaul and Herbertshole to destroy the wireless stations located there. However they learned that the wireless stations were inland. This meant that the Australian Government would have to put an expeditionary force together.

The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force [ANMEF] started recruiting and assembling of an amphibious force on the same day. It consisted of a battalion of 1000 infantry and 500 naval reservists. After some rudimentary training at Townsville, the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force left on the 19th August on the HMAT ship Berrima. The ship sailed to Port Moresby to link up with other supporting ships, including the Sydney and HMAS Encounter. They were also supported by the destroyers Parramatta, Warrego and the Yarra, in turn and backed up by two submarines HMAS AE1 and HMAS AE2. This fleet headed towards Rabual. On the 9th of September, ANMEF captured and destroyed the wireless station at Nauru. Two days later, the Australian force, consisting mainly of naval men, were put ashore at Kabakaul, with the task of seizing the wireless station located inland at Bita Paka. After some heavy resistance, the wireless station was captured and destroyed. Rabaul was captured on the 12th September 1914. Then, the Acting Governor Eduard Haber, surrendered to the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Forces’.

The Australians hoisted the Union Jack over on German New Guinea on September 13, 1914. The Australian military and naval forces capture of Rabaul, the capital of German New Guinea was the first action in the Great War involving Australian troops. Australia’s other naval success was when HMAS Sydney, on the 9th of November, 1914, sunk the German light cruiser, the SMS Emden, which was sinking British Merchant vessels .
Historically, the capture of German New Guinea is significant for Australia on a number of fronts.
Besides being the first major involvement for Australia, during the Great War. Six Australians were killed.
The ANMEF were successful in capturing the German radio station at Bitapaka and capturing Rabaul thus preventing the German East Asiatic Squadron from communicating. It was a successful Australian endeavor .by the first force to leave Australian shores in this war, which seriously disrupted German naval communications.

Map of the Australian Occupation of German New Guinea.

On the 12th of September, 1914, the Military Proclamation was declared:
Extract of Military Proclamation.

Australians hoist the Union Jack on German New Guinea on September 13, 1914. According to Volume X of the Official History of Australia in the of War of 1914-18, Australia lost 6 soldiers, in the first battle of the Great War

The Adelaide Register informed South Australians that:

“Japan’s interpretation of her duty under the treaty of alliance with England has for the time being extinguished all hopes of German aggression in the Pacific, and materially added to the safety of British colonies and trade in Eastern waters”.

This Report was based on possibly falsely sentiment. When Japan declared war against Germany on August 23, 1914, and pressurized Germany to get out of China, this heralded the real possibility of long term aggression on the part of Japan and reinforced fears of a “Yellow Peril” in Australia’s backyard. Importantly, it raised questions within Australia about whether or not Japan would expand southwards from the equator. It needs to be pointed out that four months into the War it was the combined effort of the Australian and Japanese forces that captured the German colonies in the Pacific. The capturing of German colonies, tell us much about the prevailing attitudes and issues confronting Australia at this historical juncture. It also highlights the extent to which the security of the British Empire and Australia were dependent upon Japanese, not British sea power, and also the importance of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, which was critical in the Pacific. The prevailing contemporary view in Australia believed that it would be more secure with the Pacific islands under the flag of a White power than under Japan, highlighting the conventional values of the time.

The Border Watch newspaper article, expresses another intent of capturing German New Guinea, namely as an economic acquisition.
After the war, Australia was given two mandates by the League of Nations to administer:

“New Guinea (including the former Kaiser Wilhelm's Land, the Bismarck Archipelago, the German Solomon Islands, the Admiralty Group and all other German Pacific possessions South of the equator other than the German Samoan Islands and Nauru.”

It needs to be noted that the White Australia policy was strictly imposed on New Guinea after Australia acquired it, in order to prevent Japanese immigration and investment in New Guinea. John Latham, one of the delegates to the peace conferences, wrote:

“The principle of White Australia is almost a religion in Australia. Upon it depends the possibility of the continuance of white democracy-indeed any democracy, in a real sense-in this continent”

The Australian army occupied German New Guinea during the Great War with Colonel William Holmes, becoming the first military administrator, of the captured colony. During his period in command, Holmes, who was quite inept oversaw public floggings-showing fellow feeling with Captain Hawkes at the Torrens Island internment camp for members of the South Australian German community?
During his administration, he ordered the public floggings of four civilians in Rabaul, on 30, November 1914. The reason for these actions stemmed from an incident, whereby an Australian Methodist missionary, named William Cox was assaulted by some Germans and a Belgian man on the island of Nue Mecklenburg a month previously. These men hit Cox 30-40 times with a cane. These men accused Cox of being a British spy. Colonel Holmes sent in an ANMEF detachment and arrested six men who were brought back to Rabaul.
Contrary to legal advice given to Colonel Holmes, that the men be put on trial, Holmes had the men summarily flogged.
It seems that maladministration and flogging of civilians were features of the Australian military and was not just confined to Torrens Island Internment Camp. This event was a major embarrassment for Australia, both domestically and internationally.

Post War New Guinea.
Prime Minister Hughes and the Australian government were obsessed with the need to gain control of New Guinea.
In 1919, Prime Minister Hughes declared:

“Strategically the Pacific Islands encompassed Australia like a fortress. New Guinea was….only 82 miles from the mainland .South East of it was a string of islands suitable for coaling and submarine bases from which Australia could be attacked….Any strong power controlling New Guinea controlled Australia.”

The significance of this quote illustrates that the fear of German imperialism was not new and that Hughes consistently argued that Australia needed to control New Guinea; otherwise it would become a Japanese or German country within ten years. Hughes was a nationalist, and at the Peace Conferences fought “tooth and nail” for Australia’s interests. Hughes wanted the “spoils of war” for the victor nations at the Peace Conferences. He believed that Australia needed to be fairly compensated for its war –related expenditure. Hughes also defended Australia’s interests, especially in obtaining control of German New Guinea. The Americans wanted all of the German Colonies to be placed under control of the League of Nations, via the mandate system. Hughes favoured outright annexation, and truly believed that Australia war prize was German New Guinea. As a compromise, President Wilson accepted the special class of mandate, the “C” class which gave the occupying power greater control over the territory. Hughes reminded President Wilson that the price Australia paid was “sixty thousand dead” and Hughes secured German New Guinea as an Australian war prize.

During the post war period Australia was given two mandates to administer. New Guinea including the former Kaiser Wilhelm’s Land, the Bismarck Archipelago, the German Solomon Islands, the Admiralty Group and all German Pacific possessions south of the Equator. The treatment of Germans in German New Guinea resembled much of the regime for enemy aliens at home. Hughes set up a Royal Commission into the Late German New Guinea, on 12 August 1919. It was chaired by J.H.P.Murray. The terms of reference were broad, reporting on matters which included Property, Reade, Revenue, and Administration. The Commission recommended the setting up a new form of government in accordance with the terms of the mandate. This was done by the New Guinea Act, 1920, where the Commonwealth Parliament provided for the establishment of a civil government. The Royal Commission sought the removal of all German residents from German New Guinea. According to this report:

“If the Germans, or the bulk of them ,are allowed to continue in occupation of their present positions as missionaries, traders, or planters, the government must expect to be met with continual hostility veiled perhaps ,but none the less manifesting itself in the creation of embarrassments for a Government which .though tolerated, will be hated…The psychology of the German is now well understood and there appears no justification for hope that there are men, who are known to have rejoiced at every German success during the War, will so change their natures as to be willing to render that loyal co-operation that will be necessary for the success of the new Government”

This also included Lutheran Missionaries. However the process of removing all German Missionaries would be delayed afterwards well into the post-war period. The Royal Commission also recommended that German plantations be sold off to private individuals, and that German businesses be liquidated and replaced by Australian firms. The process of acquiring and deporting German nationals from New Guinea was part of the Treaty of Peace, ratified on the 10 of January, 1920.This also enabled the Australian government to deport German nationals ceded to them, and to retain and liquidate all property rights and interests belonging to German nationals or companies controlled by them.
December 1919 until the following September, the Military Administrators passed three Ordnances, which totally altered any German influence in its former colony.

“The Lands Ordinance December 1919”
“The Enemy Property Ordinance January 1920”
“The Expropriation Ordinance September 1920”

Historical evidence showed that from the period of Australian military rule from 17 September 1914 to 9 May 1921 German residents’ plantation which remained unrestricted during Australia’ military rule and they benefited from these plantations as they became highly profitable, towards the end.
Research undertaken by Hermann Hiery concludes:

“During the war, it had been impossible to send profits out of the country or to invest outside New Guinea. Between 1914 and 1920, therefore, the Germans had put all their capital into expanding existing plantations and creating new ones. Between 1914 and the end of 1918, the area of New Guinea planted with coconut palms almost doubled, increasing from 76,847 to 133,960 acres.290 On the day of their expropriation, the four large German plantation companies, Neuguinea-Kompanie, Hamburger Südsee Aktiengesellschaft, Hernsheim, and Wahlen, possessed a total of 2,366,532 coconut palms, of which only 780,812, or one-third, were fully mature. The rest had been planted as an investment in the future; 687,972 trees were between one and six years old. Thus more than 29 percent of their palm trees had only been planted during the Australian military administration. Between 1914 and 1918, the net profits of these four companies amounted to £365,451. The German South Pacific under the Shadow of War 115 1919 the military administration’s chief surveyor assessed the total value of German property in New Guinea as at least £4,894,900”

Hughes achieved a most generous prize from the war which he used as proof that Australia had something to show for which she had paid a huge price in terms of loss of life in the Great War.
Christine Winter also notes:

“The extension of Australia’s reward scheme for ex-service men, the soldiers resettlement scheme, to New Guinea was a gesture which looked like an expression of utter confidence New Guinea, Australia’s booty of war, was to remain with the Commonwealth of Australia …The decision to establish no military or naval bases left Australia’s northern frontier uncomfortably vulnerable. Rabaul was consciously a “suburb of Anzac.”The presence of ex-servicemen as a kind of substitute for proper military presence also brought Australians to the territory, the sort of Australian who had proven their loyalty to the nation, and who could be relied upon to Australianise New Guinea.”

By the Treaty of Versailles, the Allied Powers took the right to appropriate all private property of Germans in all the colonies. The Australian government enforced this right in German New Guinea. Just prior to Christmas 1920, three ships landed, and, without notice, Germans were ejected from their properties and homes and ultimately deported to Germany.
According to the Stead Review:

“A recently –arrived steamer from Rabaul brought to Sydney another batch of Germans expropriated from New Guinea .They had been residents there for ten or more years. The properties taken from them by the Commonwealth Government were worth 50,000 pounds. Without their knowledge, passages are booked for them on steamers, sometimes at a day’s notice. We have not the space to detail the numerous cases of unjust and insulting treatment meted out to such persons by the Australian Government”

During the same period, this would be replicated on the mainland, with great zeal and haste.
In conclusion, the situation of German New Guinea is significant in understanding that it created and reinforced both hatred of the Japanese and the perceived threat of the rampaging German Hun. Prior to the Great War Australian’s were already spooked by the threat of the Russian fleet coming into Australia, combined with the Japanese victory over Russia in the war of 1904-05 ,further heightened racial and military anxieties within Australia. Having Germany so close to our shores, and the fear of German naval attacks, Australia was anxious to secure sovereignty over German New Guinea and nullify the threat.
We move from external German threats to internal German threats.

In his book A FUTURE UNLIVED (A forgotten chapter in South Australia's history) Michael Wohltmann discusses the perceived threats from ” the enemy within the gate” .

German New Guinea Timeline

This 1906 map of British New Guinea, German New Guinea (also known as Kaiser-Wilhelms-land), and the Bismarck Archipelago was produced by the Geographical Section of the General Staff of the War Office of Great Britain. Germany annexed the northern area of the island of New Guinea in 1884, together with islands of New Britain and New Ireland. The Germans renamed the former New Pomerania and the latter New Mecklenburg. Also shown is Bougainville Island, which Germany annexed in 1889. When World War I broke out in 1914, German New Guinea was quickly occupied by British Imperial Forces and the whole area was placed under Australian administration in October 1914. At the end of the World War I, German New Guinea became an Australian mandate under the League of Nations as the territory of New Guinea. British New Guinea, German New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago today are part Papua New Guinea, which became independent in 1975. The map shows a small part of Dutch New Guinea (part of present-day Indonesia), and the extreme northern tip of Queensland, Australia. Relief is shown by form lines and spot elevations. The scale of the map is in miles.


Johann Cesar Godeffroy & Sohn and Hersheim & Kompagnie establish trading posts in the Bismarck archipelago.


A charter is granted to the Neuguinea Kompagnie (NGK), a consortium of Berlin financiers headed by Adolph von Hansemann of the Disconto-Gellschaft, to enter into relations with the native people, to experiment with the cultivation of useful tropical crops, to prepare for settlement and to serve as a basis for administration when established. The company established its main trading station at Finschhafen on Kaiser Wilhelmsland and sub-stations at Hatzfeldthafen, Constantinhafen and Matupit.

Deutsche Handels-und Plantagen Gesellschaft (DH&PG) takes over Johann Cesar Godeffroy & Sohn.

November 3

A German protectorate (Schutzgebiet Deutsch-Neuguinea) is proclaimed over north-eastern New Guinea (Kaiser-Wilhelmsland), the Bismarck Archipelago and the Admiralty Islands (Admiralitäts-Inseln).


Gustav von Oertzen appointed German Commissioner for New Guinea.


Bougainville and Buka in the British Solomon Islands (Salomons-Inseln) are ceded to German New Guinea.

June 10

Georg Freiherr von Schleinitz appointed Landeshauptleute (administrator) by the New Guinea Company.


The Kaiser-Wilhelmsland Plantagen-Gesellschaft is formed in Hamburg for the purpose of growing cocoa and coffee on a plantation at Jomba.

The Neuguinea Kompagnie opens a new tobacco plantation at Stephansport on Astrolabe Bay, south of Friedrich Wilhelmshafen (Madang).


The Neuguinea Kompagnie abandons their headquarters at Finschhafen and transfers operations to Friedrich Wilhelmshafen (Madang).


The Neuguinea Kompagnie abandons its experimental tobacco plantation at Jomba after smallpox decimates its workforce.


The Neuguinea Kompagnie establishes tobacco plantations on the right bank of the Jori River at Erima. New Guineans were generally not encouraged as labourers. Asians being preferred, 450 Chinese, 324 Malay and 664 Melanesians work in the fields. Another 173 Javanese and 87 Chinese fill semi-skilled positions.


April 1

The German government takes over civil administration of the colony from the unprofitable Neuguinea Kompagnie. Government headquarters are established at Herbertshohe (Kokopo). Rudolf von Bennigsen is appointed governor.

October 12

The Caroline (Karolinen-Inseln) and Palau Islands (Palau-Inseln) become an administrative subdivision of German New Guinea.

November 17

The Mariana Islands (Marianen-Inseln) become an administrative subdivision of German New Guinea.



A few traders are killed by natives in the Bismarck Archipelago.


January 1

Population: Kaiser Wilhelmsland, approximately 100,000 Melanesians and 113 Europeans including 98 Germans; Bismarck Archipelago, approximately 200,000 Melanesians and 320 Europeans including 203 Germans.

February 15

The Governor issues a decree regulating Chinese immigration.


Madang villagers plan an insurrection against the European population. One native is shot while storming the arms depot at Friedrich Wilhelmshafen. Nine others are later executed and several more are exiled to remote outposts.

August 13

Native attacks on Catholic missions at St.Paul and Nacharunep and the Trappist settlement in the Baining Mountains leave 5 priests and 5 nuns dead. Police capture and execute the perpetrators.

October 1

Regulations regarding the importation of opium are strengthened.



Simpsonhafen’s new wharf opens for business. The North German Lloyd line opened a large storehouse near the wharf. December

The steamer Seestern transports 150 natives from German New Guinea to German East Africa for military training.


During the Year

The Namatanani district station expands it influence substantially. The number of chiefs submitting to the administration totals 168 most of them come from Neu-Mecklenburg.

Other tribes along the north coast of Neu-Pommern and in the Baining Mountains were brought under control of the administration.

The Kieta district station began in installing chieftains among the tribes in Bougainville. Administrative organization of this region is more difficult, because the natives are completely unfamiliar with the concept of a high chief.

Planned development proceeds in Simpsonhafen (Rabaul), the future seat of the government. The main streets have been laid out and work on a botanical research garden is under way.

The Government finances establishment of a small farming settlement in the Baining Mountains. Ten farmers with previous experience in tropical farming are provided with land and seed. Sisal, ficus and corn are the main crops under cultivation.

April 1

The Marshall Islands (Marshall-Inseln) are incorporated as part of the colony of German New Guinea.


New Guinea exports rubber for the first time. The raw caoutchouc sap brings good prices in the Hamburg market.

The German Colonial Society undertakes a 3 year, 1 million marks, guttapercha- and caoutchouc Expedition to look for rubber trees in Kaiser Wilhelmsland.

The New Guinea Company’s plans for the economic development of Kaiser Wilhelmsland are slowed by a lack of skilled native labour. Javanese are recruited in the Dutch East Indies to work on the rubber plantations.


The Damköhler-Fröhlich Expedition explores the interior of New Guinea between the Finisterre and Bismarck Mountains. They report finding a fertile and densely populated interior plain. Unfortunately, it seems that the local tribes are engaged in permanent feuds with each other.



The Hamburgian expedition’s steamer Peiho completes her first journey on the Empress Augusta River.

During the Year

The Friederici expedition spent 7 months exploring the Bismarck Archipelago for phosphate deposits.

Exports from the Bismarck Archipelago and Kaiser Wilhelmsland were valued at 8,328,160 marks and included 3268 birds of paradise worth 65,360 marks.



The seat of government is moved from Herbershoehe to Rabaul (formerly called Simpsonhafen) on the island of Neu-Pommern.


The survey ship Planet takes part in a punitive expedition against the unruly tribes of the Finisterre Mountains near Friedrich-Wilhelmsport.

During the Year

An expedition is launched to mark the borders of Wilhelms-land with Dutch New Guinea and the British territory of Papua. Dr. Leonhard Schulze represents the German interest in the demarcation.

The bird of paradise hunt produces 5,706 skins for export.



A new patrol ship named Komet is launched in Bremen to replace the earlier government steamer Seestern. The administration bemoans the lack of a larger vessel as reason for its inability to properly punish recent incidents of native insubordination and the murder of Europeans.

During the Year

The bird of paradise hunt produces 8,779 skins for export an increase of 53% over the previous year.



The Stolle expedition begins exploration of the Empress Augusta River region. Its steamer the Kolonialgesellschaft penetrated far into the interior and one member of the expedition traveled as far south as the Mittelgebirge.

During the Year

Contact is established with the Baininger tribe who inhabitat a remote mountain area of Neu-Pommern.

A few bird of paradise hunters on Kaiser-Wilhelmsland are the only victims of murder by indigenous tribesmen reported in the protectorate this year.

Copra collected by the natives was worth 6.5 million marks on the export market.

Nearly 10,000 birds of paradise worth 500,000 marks have been exported this year. High prices and easy profits have been a strong incentive to take up the business. Europeans have hired natives to hunt the bird and many of the smaller plantation owners have financed their farms with bird of paradise profits. It is feared that the birds may soon be extinct if hunters continue to decimate the stock and it is therefore foreseeable that hunting of birds of paradise will be outlawed completely in near future.


Native resistance to expansion of the German administration rose to previously unknown levels. The district office of Kaewieng in the interior of Neu-Hannover founded it necessary to dispatch an armed force to subdue the local tribesmen.

The Stolle expedition completed its exploration of the Empress Augusta River region and mapped the southern basin of the Sepik from the Dutch border to the coast.

Copra exports increased to 17,300 tons valued at over 6 million marks. At present coco palms account for 90% of New Guinea’s cultivated crops.

The bird of paradise hunting season has been closed for most of the year.

Examination and exploitation of the recently discovered oil fields in the Eitape District has not yet begun and the revenue service has declared the area off limits.



A radio telegraph station begins operating at Bitapaka.

August 6

The Government moves from Herbertshöhe to Toma, c. 12 km inland, and out of range from naval artillery. A 50 man defence force is organized among the German settlers and ordered to refrain from action other than defence of the wireless station at Bitapaka.

August 12

Australian warships appear in the Blanche Bay. The Germans refuse to disclose the location of the radio telegraph station. The Australians sail away without fulfilling a threat to shell the place if they are not given the information.


Australian Navy shore parties destroy telephone switchboards in Rabaul and Herbertshöhe.

September 11

The Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force anchors off Rabaul.

Australian sailors land near Herbertshöhe.

The Germans destroy the wireless station at Bitapaka.

September 14

Australians begin shelling Rabaul and Herbertshöhe at dawn. A column of 600 Australian troops begins marching inland towards Toma. In the afternoon the Australian commander requests the negotiations with the Governor Eduard Haber.

Royal Australian Navy submarine AE-1 last sighted on patrol between New Britain and the Gazelle Peninsula by HMAS Parramatta disappears with all hands.

September 17

The Governor Haber agrees to surrender the colony.

September 21

The German defence force surrenders at Herbertshöhe.

During the Year

Captain Heinrich Detzner leads a four month expedition to a previously unexplored section of the highlands separating German New Guinea from Papua. Detzner returns to the coast and discovers that war has been declared during his absence and the protectorate is now occupied by the Australians. He spends the next four years wandering the bush in an attempt to reach the neutral Dutch half of the island.

Australia renames Neu-Pommern New Britain, Neu-Mecklenburg New Ireland. Neu-Hannover reverts to the native name Lovangai.


June 28

Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles and cedes all claims to sovereignty over New Guinea.

PNG League of Nation 1921 (click map to enlarge)

PNG Mandate 1921 (click map to enlarge)