Education

As Germany practised conscription, when war broke out in 1914, many German nationals who were present in the Far East were expected to report for duty, while others volunteered. They made their way to Tsingtau in Germany’s colony of Kiao-Chou on the Chinese mainland. Except in the case of people who had chosen to belong to the Reserve, who retained their previous ranks, most of the conscripts served as simple soldiers or marines, regardless of their civilian roles. Even after the fall of Tsingtao, military ranks and privileges continued to apply, and military titles and ranks are used throughout the newspaper. Despite this, some regular contributors to the newspaper did not hold high military rank, while an academic background seems to have been a distinct advantage.

In addition to the Baracke,a fairly full account of the teaching activities in Bando, insofar as they related to the Far East was published by the German East Asiatic Society (OAG)1 after the war. It includes information about the teaching of Chinese and Japanese and about courses on Chinese business practice given by a former professor at the Imperial University of Peking, Reserve Staff Sergeant Berliner, who was a mathematician. The material from his courses was subsequently published in Germany.

An inspection of the Camp Chronicles2 show that until April 1918 there were regular “China Evenings” in the camp, which were held by Reserve Lieutenant Solger, who had been also been a professor at the same university and Head of the Chinese National Geological Survey3. Some lectures were given by people with specific expertise. From January 1918 to October 1919 he also gave a series of lectures on Homeland Studies, a wide-ranging school subject covering history, geography, civics and biology. The material used on this course was printed in the camp with a very völkisch title and is available on the DIJ Website 4. The teaching of Homeland Studies probably reflects a realisation that many of the people in the camp had not had much formal education.

Given that the war was in progress, it is understandable that there was an interest in military topics. Some lectures were given by military officers such as Captains Buttersack, Maurer and Stecher, Senior Naval Lieutenant Schultz and Senior Lieutenants Martin and Trendelburg. NCO Mahnfeldt, who had been a lawyer in Shanghai before the War gave some lectures on military topics, and also gave a series of lectures on Modern German History from April to November 1918. He wrote comprehensive monthly summaries of the War for the newspaper. Marine Bohner, who held a doctorate from the University of Erlangen, gave a series of lectures on German History and Art from December 1917 to May 1918, together with some lectures on the plays and music being performed in the camp. He too, was a frequent contributor to the newspaper, writing under the pseudonym P. Sq. (Peter Squenz).

Although the teaching of homeland studies will have undoubtedly helped some people to catch up on their education, there does not seem to have been any formal school structure, and the newspaper does not give any information about attendance at the lectures.

Footnotes