1911 - Manuscript Letter Book - China ([ 1911 - 1912 ])

German Imperial Navy SMS Scharnhorst

1911 - Manuscript Letter Book - China

Date: [ 1911 - 1912 ]

Tsingtao [Qingdao], Hong Kong, Amoy [Xiamen], Wusung [Shanghai], Chefoo [Yantai], Yokohama, Hakodate, Port Arthur, 1911-1912. Journal of manuscript retained copies of letters and diary notes made by German naval engineer H.L.A. Heine while serving onboard Scharnhorst, during and after the Chinese Revolution, with a few hand sketched diagrams within the text. Together with two pencil drawings of nautical scenes inscribed by the artists and measuring approximately 14,5 x 10 cm, and one black and white photograph of a group of German Navy officers perhaps including Heine himself, the photograph measuring approximately 11 x 8 cm. Qto. Approximately 390 pages in manuscript, written in ink single sided onto thin tissue leafs, a scant few integral blanks. Text is almost entirely in German. Volume measures approximately 22,5 x 27 cm, blue cloth boards titled in English and Chinese to front "Foreign Letters: The Terminus Stores. Kowloon." SMS Scharnhorst was an armored cruiser of the Imperial German Navy, the lead ship of her class, assigned to the German East Asia Squadron based in Tsingtao in 1909. After arriving, she replaced the cruiser Fürst Bismarck as the squadron flagship, a position she would hold for the rest of her career. Over the next five years, she went on several tours of various Asian ports to show the flag for Germany. She frequently carried the squadron commanders to meet with Asian heads of state and was present in Japan for the coronation of the Taisho Emperor 30 July 1912. Attached to the China Station of the German Navy and spending some two years at this post, Hans Ludwig Adolf Heine, 'marine ingenieur, SMS Scharnhorst,' wrote several letters, to family and friends, and also to notable business firms. All of the correspondences are dated, with location also given. Several of the letters were written at Tsingtao, being the ship's base port in China. To demonstrate German presence in the Far East, also to augment political and trade relations, frequent tours were made along the coast of China to the Japanese islands. Surely, he would have observed some fascinating communities and situations. For example, he was in Port Arthur [now called Lüshunkou District] on 5 September 1911 only six years after the siege which took place during the Russo-Japanese War. Yokohama was also a port of call later the same month. In December 1911 he is in Hakodate, Japan. He was also in Japan after the death of Emperor Meiji the Great, when his successor Emperor Taisho was given the throne. At least one voyage in 1912 was made as far as Vladivostok in Russia, during which an eight-page letter was penned and contains references to the Russian city, as well as Peking, and torpedo boats in Tientsin [Tianjin]. From January to May 1912 he wrote from Wusung or while anchored off the Wusung Küste [coast]. At the time, Wusung was a separate small port town; it has since become a sub-district of Baoshan in northern Shanghai. Details of Chinese custom, geography and climate, events of the time, as well as his observations of the people's way of life, fill the pages addressed to his personal acquaintances. Towards the end of the volume, he describes the great Tian Shan mountain range, presented with a simple drawing. In a couple of instances he seems to be recording expenses for ship repairs, including the keel. Some letters contain numeric figures or prices. One lists places such as Sumatra, Celebes, Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Japan, which may be the locations where he was trading. A letter to the firm Wolf & Co. of Hamburg was penned at Amoy. At Tsingtao 2.5.1911, he transcribes eight letters which he wrote to various German businessmen and manufacturing firms, including Speidel et Cie. and others in Saigon, Singapore, and Shanghai. [F. W. Speidel was a famous German in Ho Chi Minh City during the early 1900s. His company, Speidel et Cie, was one of the biggest German businesses in the city, trading oil lamps, oil, and providing services ranging from rice milling, to imports, exports, shipping and marine insurance. Founded by German investor Theodore Speidel in 1868, it was one of the first foreign companies opened in Vietnam.] Evidently, Heine was bilingual. At least two letters are in English, one written at Chefoo 2 December 1911, as follows, "Dear Annie, Your card reached me at Tsingtao... A year ago you wrote to me that John was in New Zealand... I have been out here now a year, one more year and I shall go home." Heine returned Germany, by way of Siberia in 1912. He settled in Bremen, continuing work in his specialized field as an engineer, but also became an importer/exporter of goods, quite possibly having made some excellent business connections whilst abroad.

Spine reinforced with tape, a red wax seal cemented to rear board, otherwise in very good condition, internally clean and bright.


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