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Hermann Detzner

Hermann Detzner (1882–1970) was an officer in the German colonial security force in Kamerun and German New Guinea, as well as a surveyor, an engineer, an adventurer, and a writer. In early 1914, the German government sent Detzner to explore and chart the interior of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland, the imperial protectorate on the island of New Guinea. When World War I broke out in Europe, he was well into the interior, without radio contact. He refused to surrender to Australian troops when they occupied German New Guinea, concealing himself in the jungle with a band of approximately 20 soldiers. For four years, Detzner and his troops provocatively marched through the bush. He explored areas of the Guinean interior formerly unseen by Europeans and surrendered in full dress uniform, flying the Imperial flag, to Australian forces in January 1919. He wrote a book about his adventures that achieved notoriety in Great Britain and Germany, entered three printings, and was translated into French, English, Finnish and Swedish. He received a position in the Imperial Colonial Archives, and appeared frequently on the lecture circuit throughout the 1920s. In the late 1920s, scientific portions of his book were discredited. In 1932, he admitted that he had mixed fact and fiction and, after that time, eschewed public life. (more...)

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