August Engelhardt

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August Engelhardt (1911)

August Karl Engelhardt (born November 27, 1875 in Nuremberg ; † May 6, 1919 in Kabakon , today Papua New Guinea ) was a German who founded a new religious community called the Sun Order - Equatorial Settlement Community . In it he developed cocovorism , a diet that focuses on the consumption of coconuts .


Career in Germany

Engelhardt left high school prematurely and completed an apprenticeship as a pharmacy assistant . Because of his job, he developed an interest in questions of healthy living, which was propagated by the life reform movement .

In autumn 1899 he joined the " Jungborn " in Eckertal des Harz , an association for natural living, which was founded by the brothers Adolf Just and Rudolf Just and whose basic principles were vegetarianism and nudism . A little later the Jungborn got into legal complications, which led to its dissolution, since the practiced nudism was considered illegal immorality and Adolf Just was sentenced to prison for improper activity as a naturopath . It is likely that these events moved Engelhardt to look for a place away from the constraints and conventions of Europe in order to be able to implement his ideas of a nature-loving life there.

Arrival at Kabakon

In the autumn of 1902 Engelhardt arrived in German New Guinea in the Pacific Ocean , where he hoped to find the conditions he had in mind. On October 2nd, he acquired a coconut plantation of 75 hectares on the island of Kabakon from Emma Kolbes ("Queen Emma") company Forsayth . He was the only white man to settle there. His partner August Bethmann died of tropical viruses a year after they had founded the coconut plantation together.


At Kabakon he put his ideas of a nature-loving lifestyle into reality. He completely renounced clothes and ate exclusively vegetarian food, mainly coconuts. With the sun and coconuts as the cornerstone, Engelhardt developed a philosophy that increasingly took on religious traits: Assuming that the sun was the venerable source of all life, he claimed that the coconut is the fruit that grows closest to the sun and therefore the most perfect Food of man. This view, known as cocovorism (from Latin vorare ' to devour' and -ism in the sense of 'doctrine'), culminated in Engelhardt's statement that the constant consumption of coconuts leads people into a god-like state of immortality.

The further Engelhardt worked out his philosophy of Kokovorism, the more absurd his statements became. So he maintained that the most noble organ in the human body is the brain, since it is closest to the sun; He denied that such a noble part of the body got its strength from the deep and dirty digestive tract , and instead said that the brain draws its energy from the hair roots, which in turn are nourished by sunlight. For this reason, wearing any headgear is harmful.

Foundation of the Sun Order

Engelhardt urged to spread his views, and he wanted to gather a community of like-minded people on Kabakon, which he called the "Sun Order - Equatorial Settlement Community". For this purpose, he had advertising leaflets distributed in Europe. At the end of 1903 the first newcomer arrived on the island, the Heligoland vegetarian Heinrich Aueckens. Aueckens was dead just six weeks later; the cause of death could not be determined.

August Engelhardt (standing) and Max Lützow

In July 1904, Max Lützow arrived at Kabakon. Lützow was a famous conductor , violinist and pianist at the time , whose exhaustion from civilization brought him to Engelhardt's Sonnenorden island. He reported in inspiring letters to Germany about his experiences at Kabakon and this increased interest in Engelhardt's Sun Order.

In October 1904 an open letter from Lützow appeared in the magazine Vegetarian Warte :

“Our company is communist, every colonist becomes a co-owner. I am downright delighted with Kabakon and would never have thought that there would be a place on earth that so completely satisfied all the requirements of my ideal. [...] I have the conviction that everyone who comes here will also stay here. "

More newcomers arrived at Kabakon, but there were never more than five followers of Engelhardt on Kabakon. The 30 members often mentioned in the literature are based, according to Dieter Kiepenkracher, on a mix-up with the 30 or so name entries in the "Früchtler directory", which Engelhardt published with the request that "all pure Früchtler send in their address".


Disillusionment set in quickly due to illnesses and accidents. Max Lützow fell seriously ill and wanted to visit the hospital in Herbertshöhe in February 1905 ; however, he only got as far as the island of Lamassa , where he succumbed to the efforts of the boat trip in a storm and was buried on the island.

The other members of the Sun Order now also left Kabakon, so that Engelhardt's nudist community was about to end when the nature writer August Bethmann and his fiancée, Anna Schwab, arrived on the island. Together with them, Engelhardt set out to propagate his teachings again. Bethmann wrote enthusiastic reports about life on Kabakon, which were published in Germany.

In the meantime, however, Engelhardt was also sick himself. The German guest Willy or Wilhelm Bradtke, who arrived at Kabakon in March 1906, reported on Engelhardt's unexpected condition. Only at Bethmann's insistence did he go to the hospital in Herbertshöhe, where he was found to be in terribly poor health: Engelhardt weighed only 39 kilograms at a height of 1.66 meters, suffered from scabies all over his body , had numerous skin ulcers and was exhausted no longer go. Through intensive care he recovered until he escaped from the hospital, returned to Kabakon and claimed that along with the pus from the ulcers, the last pathological substances had left his body that had previously prevented him from going into an "ethereal" state could pass over.

Bethmann himself began to doubt Engelhardt and informed a German official in June 1906 that he wanted to leave New Guinea with the next available steamer. But before he could leave, he died of unknown causes. Since there had previously been a falling out between him and Engelhardt, an argument with fatal consequences could not be ruled out, but could never be proven. It is also unclear whether Bethmann's fiancée Schwab played a role in the dispute. Schwab left the island of Kabakon after Bethmann's death and worked as a tutor for Albert Hahl , the governor of German New Guinea.

Engelhardt continued to publish advertising material, but it looked increasingly confused and abstruse. He announced that he wanted to establish an “international tropical colonial empire of fructivorism”, nudism and sun worship that would encompass the entire Pacific , South America , Southeast Asia and Central Africa . Since Engelhardt gave the German colonial administration the impression that he had become mentally ill , they made sure that no more newcomers came to his island. In October 1906, the Vegetarian Observatory printed warnings urgently advising against a trip to Kabakon.

Last years

From 1909 Engelhardt became a living curious sight for tourists visiting German New Guinea. He managed the plantation, operated as Engelhardt & Co. since 1909, together with his manager Wilhelm Bradtke. In 1910 he tried to have a plot of land of 50 hectares on the island of Towalik (west of Kabakon) registered as his property in the land register.

After the outbreak of the First World War , Engelhardt was interned in Rabaul in 1915 , but was soon able to return to the now Australian- occupied Kabakon. He had leased his coconut plantation to Wilhelm Mirow, a German with an Australian wife, and devoted himself to the study of native medicinal plants and homeopathy .

Engelhardt died emaciated from malaria at the beginning of May 1919 ; his body was found on May 6; his grave is unknown. His next tenant dumped his library into the sea. Mirow was appointed executor on July 26, 1919, but acted dishonestly. Due to the Australian expropriation ordinance , the remaining six pound assets fell to the Australian state on May 6, 1920.


(All quotations taken from: August Engelhardt, August Bethmann, Hoch der Äquator! Down with the Poles! A carefree future in the coconut empire , as well as: Hermann Joseph Hiery : Die deutsche Südsee 1884-1914 . Schöningh, 2001)

“Naked cocovorism is God's will. The pure coconut diet makes you immortal and unites with God. "

“The kokovore sun man is man as he should be. The coconut is the philosopher's stone. What are universities against such a way of life? "

“The solar order will first settle Kabakon, from there the Bismarck Archipelago, then New Guinea and the islands of the Pacific, and finally tropical Central and South America, tropical Asia and equatorial Africa. I call on all fruitfuls and friends of the natural way of life to help with the building of the palm temple of fruitfulism, which is to be erected, to contribute to the establishment of the fruitful world empire. "


  • August Bethmann: A carefree future: tried and tested advice from a modern natural man. A contribution to solving the delicate stomach issue. August Bethmann, Remscheid 1898.
  • August Bethmann and August Engelhardt: A Carefree Future: The New Gospel; Deep and far-sighted views for the selection of mankind for everyone to take to heart, for reflection and stimulation . 5th, completely revised and enlarged edition. Bethmann & Engelhardt, Kabakon near Herbertshöhe 1906, (PDF; 44 MB)
  • August Bethmann and August Engelhardt, Dieter Kiepenkracher (eds.): Up the equator! Down with the Poles! A worry-free future in the coconut empire . Extended and annotated new edition with 7 illustrations, one of them in color. ISBN 978-3-8482-0442-7 , BOD 2012.


  • Dieter Klein: New Guinea as a German utopia. August Engelhardt and his Order of the Sun. In: Hermann Joseph Hiery (ed.): Die Deutsche Südsee 1884–1914. A manual. Schöningh, Paderborn u. a. 2001, ISBN 3-506-73912-3 , pp. 450-458.
  • Una Voce - Journal of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. Edition 2/2005.
  • Engelhardt, August . In: Karl Baumann: Biographisches Handbuch Deutsch-Neuguinea 1882-1922. 3. Edition. Fassberg, 2009, pp. 123-125.
  • Sven Mönter: Following a South Seas dream: August Engelhardt and the Sonnenorden. NZ: Research Center for Germanic Connections with New Zealand and the Pacific, Univ. of Auckland, Auckland 2008, ISBN 0-9582345-7-4 .
  • Susanne Leinemann : The order of the fruit eater. In: mare . No. 83, December 2010 / January 2011, pp. 52–55.
  • Christina Horsten, Felix Zeltner: The Knight of the Coconut. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 13, 2009.
  • Christina Horsten: The knight of the coconut comes from Nuremberg In: Nürnberger Nachrichten , December 24, 2009.
  • Christina Horsten: The first German hippie . In: Sächsische Zeitung , January 19, 2010.


Web links

Wikisource: August Engelhardt  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Arnd Krüger : There goes this art of manliness . In: Journal of Sport History , 18 (1991), 1, pp. 135–159, (PDF), accessed February 19, 2017.
  2. Susanne Leinemann: The order of the fruit eater. ( Memento from January 10, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In: mare . No. 83, December 2010 / January 2011, p. 55.
  3. August Engelhardt, August Bethmann; Dieter Kiepenkracher (Ed.): Up the equator! Down with the Poles! A worry-free future in the coconut empire . ISBN 978-3-8482-0442-7 , p. 108.
  4. ^ Announcements from the Society for Geography and Colonial Affairs in Strasbourg in Alsace for 1911 , Verlag Karl J. Trübner, Strasbourg 1912, page 35
  5. Guido Knopp : The world empire of the Germans. Piper, Munich / Zurich 2011, ISBN 978-3-492-26489-1 , p. 210.