Friday, 30 April 2010

Kaiser's warship still ferrying diamond smugglers on Lake Tanganyika

In 1913, on the eve of the First World War during the arms race between Britain and Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) commissioned the shipyard of Papenburg in Lower Saxony to secretly construct a warship that would be shipped and carried in pieces to the shores of Lake Tanganyika in order to help hold on to Germany’s East African colonies. The ship was christened the Graf Goetzen.

It fought in the First World War, was sunk, and was then brought back up and put into service. It has since been used to ferry traders, prostitutes, diamond smugglers, refugees, missionaries and soldiers to the towns along the coast of Lake Tanganyika.

As a child, Hermann-Josef Averdung, a councillor in Papenburg, had heard many stories about how his grandfather had helped to build the great warship. In March, he travelled to Tanzania in search for the ship now known as the Liemba. Averdung wishes to return the ship to Germany. The state-run Tanzanian company that owns the Liemba has suggested it would be willing to part with the vessel in exchange for a newer one.

Clemens Hoges reports in Der Spiegel.

In Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Cartoonists Professor W. A. Coupe suggests, on the basis of the popular cartoon of the period, that the Emperor's person was the object of sustained criticism which seemed to augur well for the future political development of Germany.

In Germany, Britain & the Coming of War Richard Wilkinson explains what went wrong in Anglo-German relations before the First World War.

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