To Walk Under Palm Trees

The Germans in Samoa: Snapshots from Albums


TGIS 3-9Adolf Mohr


Johannes ‘Hans’ Traub (above) was Postmaster for Samoa in the final German Administration. Earlier he had served as a court official. The Apia Post Office was a busy place – in 1913 it handled 73,805 outward letters, postcards and newspapers, while for inwards mail it handled 166,010 items. Staff had to find the recipients for all this mail in a country where there was no street/house numbering system.

Mr Traub arrived in Samoa in August 1901 where he married into the local Dean family (to Edith Lillian Dean) and had four or five children. He was sent to internment in New Zealand in November 1915.

Mr Traub returned to Apia after the war but was included in the repatriations to Germany on board the “Main” in June 1920. As German settlers who had married locals were generally exempted from deportation, it is probable that the Traub family returned to Germany by choice.

Assistant postmaster in Apia, Mr Adolf Mohr (shown at left at a Concordia Club gathering in July 1909), came to Samoa via Australia in 1899. He was initially an overseer and then a storekeeper for Mr Grevsmuhl, in Savaii, before joining the Postal Department in 1904. Mr Mohr had a crippled arm which led to some confusion on the day the New Zealanders invaded Apia in 1914. Soldiers despatched to the post office pointed their guns at the staff, requesting that they surrender and put their hands up. Mr Mohr stood to attention and held his good arm rigidly upwards. The senior New Zealand officer then commented, “Is he surrendering or does he want to go to the bathroom?”

Mr Mohr was not interned during the war and was repatriated on the Main in 1920.

Credit: Traub photo from Alfred Schultz Album, photographer Reinhold Hofmann; Mohr photo from Conradt Family collection, photographer A.J.Tattersall.

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  1. Fomai Mohr says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. I am a descendant of Adolf Mohr. I was wondering if you had any documents or could help with the whereabouts he ended up after being deported out of Samoa in 1920, as you have stated.

    Thanks once again.

    • Tony Brunt says:

      The passenger Manifest for the ss Main listed Adolf Mohr travelling back to Germany with, apparently, a son who had been born in Samoa in 1904 and who was probably part-Samoan. Adolf was born in 10/6/1876 and son Julius in 1/6/1904. They have given as their destination Waldshut, near Baden, in Germany, which was probably Adolf’s home town. Today, this is known as the city of Waldshut-Tiengen in southwestern Baden-Württemberg right at the Swiss border. According to the local phonebook there are Mohrs living in Waldshut-Tiengen.

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