To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums



In late April 1914, Erich and Christel Garben and their infant son, Manfred, left Samoa on an extended holiday to Germany. They bought a return ticket (left above) but unbeknown to them the curtain had fallen on their years in the South Seas. The photo at right shows Christel on board their ship sitting in the middle row second from the left.

On the first Sunday after the family’s arrival in Germany Archduke Franz Ferdinand, of Austria, was assassinated in Sarajevo and war slowly descended on the Continent. The Garbens never returned to Samoa. Erich volunteered in the German Army and served for the duration of the war. Their Samoan assets and the Franz plantation that they managed at Falelauniu were seized by the New Zealand Administration for war reparations.        

Credit: Garben Family Collection.

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