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Karl Hanssen’s Memoirs of his Wartime Experiences in Samoa and New Zealand 1915–1916


Edited By James Bade

Karl Hanssen’s memoirs provide an invaluable outsider’s view of life in New Zealand prisons and a unique perspective on German Samoa under New Zealand occupation. In October 1915, Hanssen, manager of the DHPG, a large German copra production company, was sent from Samoa to New Zealand to serve a six-month sentence imposed by a New Zealand military court for bypassing war censorship regulations. He served his sentence in a number of prisons in New Zealand, including two months in the high-security prison, Mt Eden.
Hanssen’s memoirs – in English translation and in the original German – are made available for the first time in this edition, which also features photos from his Samoan album and a comprehensive introduction by Bronwyn Chapman on the historical and political background.
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James N. Bade - Preface


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A number of people have been involved in bringing this volume to fruition. I would like to thank first and foremost Marianne Klemm of Hamburg for her support for this unique edition of Karl Hanssen’s memoirs of his time in German Samoa under New Zealand occupation and his incarceration and internment in New Zealand. Marianne Klemm, Karl Hanssen’s granddaughter, made available Karl Hanssen’s memoirs to us along with his photograph collection, and generously contributed to the printing costs of this edition. I would also like to thank the Research Committee of the School of Cultures, Languages, and Linguistics for their support in contributing to the printing costs of this edition. The transcription and translation of Hanssen’s memoirs were undertaken by Faculty of Arts Summer Scholars Elizabeth Eltze and Judit Tunde McPherson in the summer of 2012–2013 and were revised by Dr James Braund in 2015. The Historical and Political Background section is based on Bronwyn Chapman’s M.A. thesis submitted to the University of Auckland in March 2015 entitled “The Background to Karl Hanssen’s Great War Memoirs, 1915–1916”, which I have abridged and edited for the purposes of this edition.

Professor James N. Bade

Director, Research Centre for Germanic Connections with New Zealand and the Pacific

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