To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums






In 30 years in colonial Samoa, Adolf Haidlen made his mark as both a land surveyor and an official in the German administration helping mediate relations with ethnic Samoans.

He was born in Ramstein in 1855 and came to Samoa as a trained surveyor in 1882 in the employ of the DH & PG. Mr Haidlen doubtless applied workable boundaries to Theodore Weber’s large land purchases for the company that had taken place between the 1860s and 1880s. It is likely he was also involved in the subdivision and sale to later settlers of land that the DH & PG regarded as excess to its needs. In 1900 he became the official German Government surveyor and also served as Secretary of Native Affairs and Secretary of Native Land Titles.

Mr Haidlen was involved in the 1888 ‘Vailele incident’ where he reportedly acted with much bravery, later being described by Robert Louis Stevenson, as “the brave Haidlen.” He had children with a Samoan partner, Anna (surname unknown), in the 1890s. Mr Haidlen travelled to Germany with his son Adolf Jnr in 1914 for eye surgery but was marooned there by the outbreak of the First World War and died in July 1915. Both sons appear to have died at a relatively young age, Adolf Jnr succumbing in Germany in October 1918 from the physical after-effects of three years of war service on the Western Front. Mr Haidlen also had daughters and later descendants in Samoa but the Haidlen name appears to have died out in the islands by the 1930s.

Credit: Conradt Family Collection (cropped), photo taken in Apia on 8 June 1913 at Concordia Club 20th anniversary celebrations.






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