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Von Luckner: A Reassessment

Count Felix von Luckner in New Zealand and the South Pacific 1917-1919 and 1938


James Bade

When Felix von Luckner arrived in New Zealand in 1917 as a prisoner of war, anti-German sentiment was rife. Yet his gentlemanly conduct towards crews captured in his raiding activities, along with his audacious escape from Motuihe Island, made him a folk hero, and he was certainly treated as one by many New Zealanders on his return in 1938. A number of controversies surround him and his activities, however. Archival documents have now become available in both Germany and New Zealand which clarify various matters that have remained unresolved for many years.
Contents: The Seeadler in the Pacific: raiding activities and stranding on Maupelia – The journey west by lifeboat from Maupelia and capture in Fiji – The escape from Motuihe Island and recapture at the Kermadecs – Some Island enquiries: von Luckner’s complaint to the Governor-General and Karl Grün’s plea for German intervention – The 1938 propaganda visit to New Zealand and its consequences.