Sharing the past Germany turns over memorabilia of its colonization

Posted on Jun 11 1999

Eighty-five years after the end of Germany’s control of the Marianas, the German government has turned over to the CNMI replicas and photocopies of maps, stamps, documents, photos, and postcards reflecting the colonization period.

Recently, Thomas Fitschen, Germany’s consul to Guam and the Northern Marianas, presented to Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio over 40 photos taken during the 15-year German occupation which will be displayed in the NMI Museum along with other items.

These articles, he said, were exact copies of what were available in a federal museum in Berlin. “These items were acquired in 1903 and 1904 and were brought to the museum. It gives a fairly good picture of what’s available in the Museum for Ethnology,” Fitschen said.

Part of the photo collections include Latte Stones, traditional house and water container, and Chamorro people. One folder of photos include the grandparents and great grandfather of First Lady Sophie Tenorio.

According to Fitschen, the project started after his visit to neighboring Guam, where he learned about plans by museum officials in the Northern Marianas to mount a centennial exhibit.

“I forwarded the idea to Germany and it was supported by the German foreign office. Funds were not available to buy things so we asked the help of the museum in Berlin,” said Fitschen, who is due to return to Germany after three years of tour of duty in the embassy in Manila.

Asked if there were plans by the German government to share the original items with the Commonwealth, “I can’t answer that now. But this is our contribution.”

Germany acquired the Marianas in 1899 but was forced out of the islands by the Japanese at the outbreak of the First World War in October 1914.

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