To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums


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Lieutenant Albrecht von Egidy (left) was listed as a government clerk in the German Administration in Samoa and served for some time as a court official. However, it seems likely that he was also tasked with oversight of naval matters. Apia had been a magnet for naval visits from powers active in the Pacific for many decades. Observation of visiting naval vessels and management of German ship visits was probably part of his brief. Lt von Egidy appears to have arrived in Samoa in 1904-05.

This magnificent photo by Hofmann shows Von Egidy in uniform on Motuihe Island with other German Navy prisoners Felix von Luckner (middle) and Carl Kircheiss. Being good military men they are walking in step as they walk along the wharf road. Von Egidy returned to Germany in 1919 on the “Willochra.” The image shows Hofmann’s skill. The picture was almost certainly taken with his glass plate camera on a tripod. The shutter speed was preset at quite a fast setting because the men were walking. This reduced the depth of field, with the trees and vista beyond the three going blurry, which enhances the image. The focus has been set to the point at which the men are captured. Hofmann waited until they hit their mark then ‘snap.’ There was only one chance to get this shot, as the process of changing glass plate negatives for another go took time. (Double-click on the image to download it in high resolution).

Credit: Alfred Schultz Album, photographer Reinhold Hofmann.

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