Hans Paasche

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Cover of Hans Paasche's most famous book with a photo of the author

Hans Paasche (born April 3, 1881 in Rostock ; † May 21, 1920 at Gut Waldfrieden, Netzekreis , Grenzmark West Prussia-Posen administrative district ) was a German naval officer , pacifist and writer. Before the First World War he took part in the discussions of the bourgeois life reform movement and had a certain influence on the politicized and socially critical part of the Wandervogel movement . In his best-known work, The African Lukanga Mukara's research trip to the innermost part of Germany , which originally appeared in sequels in 1912/13, he pours mockery and ridicule at the presumptuous and grotesque way of life of “civilized” humanity. In 1918 he was a member of the Executive Council of the Workers 'and Soldiers' Councils in Berlin for a few weeks . In May 1920, only 39 years old, he was covered by the public prosecutor's office as a "coincidence of unforeseeable unfortunate circumstances" by members of the Reichswehr Protective Regiment 4 from Deutsch Krone, murdered with impunity on his remote property.

life and work

Hans Paasche was born into a conservative, upper-class family. His father, Hermann Paasche , was an economist, later Vice-President of the Reichstag and a member of the National Liberal Party . Paasche attended the Joachimsthalsche Gymnasium in Berlin and then (1900) embarked on the career of naval officer, he wanted to get to know the world. In 1904 he was intended for the post of navigational officer in the rank of first lieutenant at sea on the small cruiser SMS Bussard . To this end, Paasche left Bremerhaven on May 5, 1904 on the German steamer Main . In June the Main met the Bussard in Colombo and Paasche was able to take up his duties. At that time, SMS Bussard was planned as a stationary for the East African Naval Station and arrived on June 30th in Dar es Salaam in German East Africa . When the Maji Maji uprising broke out in August 1905 , the buzzard was used to deploy troop detachments of the navy or the imperial protection force on the coast to protect the coastal stations and to fight the insurgents. Paasche was deposed as the leader of one of these detachments in Mohorro and was involved in fighting against the rebels there. However, there were conflicts with his superiors because he tried to avoid combat losses - on both sides. For his career-conscious comrades, this meant: fewer reports of victory to their homeland and fewer medals. Paasche, who read a lot and also played the violin, specially had Kiswahili learned to communicate better with the locals. He criticized the brutal colonial policy of the German Reich and called for humane treatment of the alleged protégés. A malaria ended his service in Africa. From then on he was deliberately negligent in his official duties and received the farewell he had hoped for in early 1909.

In 1909 Paasche married Ellen Witting, daughter of the banker Richard Witting and niece of the publicist Maximilian Harden . The honeymoon took them both to Eastern Africa and to the sources of the White Nile . Ellen Paasche was the first European to get there. In 1909/1910 the couple lived on Lake Victoria . Both wrote the extensive manuscript The Honeymoon to the Sources of the Nile about this trip , which was completely lost.

An immigrant named Lukanga

Around 1912, Hans Paasche called together with Hermann Popert (1871-1932) the reformist and abstinent German Vorruppbund and its magazine Der Vorrupp. Half-monthly publication for the Germanness of our time into life. There he published in several sequels in 1912/13, based on the model of the Lettres Persanes ( Persian letters ) by Montesquieu , the culture-critical fictional travelogue The African Lukanga Mukara's research trip into Germany's innermost region . Even then, the letters met with a strong response. Posthumously published in 1921 in memory of Paasche for the first time as a book and supplemented by three more letters written before the war, they became a bestseller. The reason and namesake for the travel report was a young African who was taught by missionaries , whom Paasche and his wife had met on Lake Victoria . Paasche lets him travel to Germany without further ado in order to be able to express his criticism of society, environmental pollution and colonialism in Lukanga's blunt language. Paasche's criticism of the quasi-religious (mass) growth mania of western industrial societies was still quite new at the time and caused a sensation. It became the model for Erich Scheurmann's book Der Papalagi , published in 1920 .

In lectures, Hans Paasche tried to arouse understanding for Africa and its people. As early as 1910/11 he had publicly promoted pacifism (as a reserve officer) , which in 1913 earned him a military court of honor. He advocated women's suffrage , animal welfare, fought against vivisection , feather fashions and hunting, and supported the vegetarian movement . In 1913 he was one of the spokesmen at the First Freideutschen Jugendtag , a meeting of the youth movement on the Hohe Meißner in northern Hesse. He also belonged to the circle of friends around the nature prophet Gusto Gräser , initiated by Friedrich Muck-Lamberty , and was a member of the Association for Radical Ethics founded by Magnus Schwantje .

The victory column wobbles

After the beginning of the war, Paasche was reactivated as a lieutenant captain in August 1914, initially as an intelligence officer at the Roter Sand lighthouse and then transferred to a torpedo boat flotilla in Wilhelmshaven in June 1915 . During this phase he developed into an uncompromising anti-militarist. Paasche demonstratively undermined the cultivated distance between officers and men, which was particularly pronounced in the Navy and desired and cultivated by the leadership. He tried to provide better food for his subordinates, tried to give them a kind of cultural life in addition to their service and represented their interests with superiors. When Paasche refused to take over the judge's office in the trial against a sailor accused of "provocative idioms" and justified this with "partiality in favor of the accused", he was dismissed from military service in January 1916. He joined the New Fatherland Confederation , retired to his Waldfrieden estate, having meanwhile also become a father, and continued to write, within the framework of censorship, against the war.

The little productive little estate was east of the Oder near the village of Hochzeit in what was then the Filehne district . With the French prisoners of war who had been assigned to Paasche, he celebrated the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1917 and hoisted the tricolor on the manor house. In conjunction with his active anti-militarist propaganda work, such incidents led to Paasche's arrest in autumn 1917. Before the examining magistrate, he recorded what he later published under the title My complicity in the world war . To avoid a trial with the eloquent ex-officer, he was admitted to a Berlin mental hospital. Richard Witting may also have had a hand in this, as his son-in-law escaped the impending charge of high treason and the imposition of the death penalty. There, on November 9, 1918, revolutionary sailors liberated Paasche and drove him straight to the Reichstag, where he was elected to the Executive Council of the Workers 'and Soldiers' Councils . Paasche was close to the USPD at the time . He pleaded for a radical democratic , socialist policy, the primary goal of which, according to his ideas, had initially to be the smashing of large estates as part of a land reform . In order to set a sign of the break with the past, he proposed the demolition of the Siegesallee including the Victory Column . On November 26, Paasche had two wagons with secret files from the archives of the former General Government of Belgium confiscated with the intention of having the war crimes of 1914 and the German occupation policy investigated . One of Paasche's central concerns was the arrest and trial of those responsible for starting the war.

Paasche found little support for these plans and measures. In the meantime, the forces around Ebert , Scheidemann and Noske are doing everything they can to stifle the mass initiative and disempower the workers 'and soldiers' councils . On January 25, 1919, Paasche sat on the first wagon of the funeral procession for the victims of the January uprising buried that day , including the murdered Karl Liebknecht . His extreme disappointment at the betrayal of the revolutionary aspirations was combined with grief over the sudden death of his 29-year-old wife, Ellen, who died of the Spanish flu on December 8, 1918 . She had meanwhile given birth to her fourth child. For these reasons, Paasche withdrew to his estate again at the turn of the year. He left the children partly in the care of relatives, took care of ecological economics, but also continued to write political papers. Apart from the incessant guerrilla warfare with his parents who live in the neighborhood, he enjoyed a high reputation among the locals. He supported striking farm workers and was about to be elected to the local council by an overwhelming majority. In the spring of 1920 he found a new partner in Hertha Geisler, who had been part of his circle of friends for a long time.

"Shot while trying to escape"

In Paasche's 1919 work Das verlorene Afrika , which u. a. was highlighted by Kurt Tucholsky in the Weltbühne , the words can be found:

Your field-gray, animal obedience brought about the misery, sorrow and powerlessness of this time. And you only speak of German interests before you have once cried the tears of desperation that all humanity must weep at the sight of the regions in which we played Siegfried or Hindenburg . The world is not open to you until you become human.

Paasche is said to have joined the KPD in 1919 . In the spring of 1920 he called on the farm workers on his estate and those of neighboring estates to vote for the party in the upcoming Reichstag election . As a result, he was repeatedly denounced by the authorities as a “subversive” who kept an arms store on his estate - probably even by his own father. Regardless of this, Paasche had been warned by friends of a planned attack by right-wing extremists and had also noticed himself that strangers were watching the property with binoculars. He escaped two pursuers by hiding in a logger's hut. Paasche nevertheless refused to move to Berlin. On May 21, two officers with about fifty soldiers appeared on two trucks equipped with machine guns at Gut Waldfrieden. Paasche was currently with his children at a nearby lake. He was summoned and shot in the heart as he approached. He was dressed in swimming trunks and a jacket and wore sandals. The weapons allegedly hoarded in the estate turned out to be pipe dreams. The search of the property only uncovered a few specimens of the Freedom and the Red Flag , which were confiscated as "evidence". The shooter (designation shooter as the lowest rank of the team) Diekmann, who fired the fatal shot, and the superior on duty, Oberleutnant Koppe, who stated that Paasche was "shot while trying to escape", were not prosecuted. - The diplomat and journalist Harry Graf Kessler noted in his 1920 diary (quote):

“One learns that the pacifist Paasche was murdered on his estate by Reichswehr soldiers on Whitsun. Of course ›on the run‹ (...) The security for politically disliked people is currently less in Germany than in the most disreputable South American republics or in the Rome of the Borgia. "

- Harry Graf Kessler (Hamburg. May 25, 1920. Tuesday)

Kurt Tucholsky published the poem Paasche in the Weltbühne in early June 1920 :

Another one. / That is now already in the kingdom / habit. It is the same for all of them./ This is how it goes all, every day./ This country solves the social question / One lieutenant, ten men. Is the dog a pacifist? / Don't shoot his bones sore first! / The bullet in the heart! / And the authorities lied: / He evaded his arrest./ Leading article. Denial. Shouting./And in a fortnight it will all be over./- Another one. A tired man / who thought tiredly about the Germans./The Prussian spirit - he knew it / from the army and from the colonies, / from the great times - he no longer liked./He hated this hellish army./He loved the people. He hated sergeants / (everyone who knew both of them did) ./ Sat quietly in the country fishing for fish./ Read a few harmless newspaper swipes ... / - Spy report. There are approaching / two officers and sixty men / (They have always been brave, / you can already read that in Mr. Schäfer's .) / The victim in a bathing suit ... shot. Into the dirt. / Again, Bolsheviks away -! / Bow. Commands, tough and tight./Then the hero guards withdraw./A dead man. A quiet one. A pure one / another one. Another one.

Gerhart Hauptmann designed the murder of Paasche in the third adventure of his Till Eulenspiegel . There he lets Till complain: “Hear it, sun! And hear it, forest! You too, earth, hear it! / Hear and avenge it, you animals and spirits of the field! You have killed / my brother, the Lord's Evangelist! "


Ludwigstein Castle

On the north Hessian (youth) castle Ludwigstein , which houses the archive of the German youth movement , mourning members of the youth movement declared a linden tree to be a Paasche linden tree in 1920 . Paasche's tombstone from Gut Waldfrieden can also be seen there, which his daughter Helga Paasche relocated to this youthful place in 1985 with the permission of the Polish Ministry of Culture, where it is part of a permanent exhibition on Hans Paasche. The original Paasche linden tree fell in a storm in 2002 and was replaced in 2007 by a group of Polish students from Krzyż Wielkopolski with a young linden tree dug up in Gut Waldfrieden, which was planted during a ceremony with the participation of a Paasche grandson who had traveled from Canada.

Good forest peace

Grave site on Gut Waldfrieden in Poland (2012)

The Waldfrieden Estate (Polish: Zacisze ), west of the connecting road between Przesieki (Wiesental) and Kuźnica Zelichowska (Selchowhammer), was acquired by Hans Paasche and his wife Ellen in 1912 and at the time consisted of 800 acres of forest and 200 acres of meadows and fields as well as the Deep sea (Polish: Jezioro Głębokie ). After Paasche's murder, he was buried near a pond on his estate in the presence of hundreds of farmers, agricultural and forest workers from the area. In 1923 the property was sold and in 1945 the now dilapidated buildings were demolished. Today the area is managed by the chief forester in Krzyż Wielkopolski.

After the Szczecin neurologist and naturalist Jerzy Giergielewicz made Paasche's works available to the Polish public in 2003, a school initiative was formed in Krzyż Wielkopolski that sponsored Hans Paasche's grave. In 2004, by decision of the Krzyż City Council, the grave was converted into a memorial. For this purpose, the overgrown grave site was exposed and fenced in. Green arrows on trees show the way from the remaining stairs of the manor building to the grave site. On the 85th anniversary of Paasche's death (2005), Gut Waldfrieden was presented to the public as a memorial to European understanding. Gottfried Paasche , a grandson of Hans Paasche, who came from Toronto , expressed his gratitude and joy that his grandfather's legacy was being accepted with this grand and courageous gesture, and he doubted that such a thing would be possible in Germany. Two panels in Polish and German at the foot of the stairs tell the story of the estate and its inhabitants. As the way to the memorial is not signposted, you have to orientate yourself using the geographic coordinates 52 ° 59 ′ 48.3 ″  N , 15 ° 58 ′ 47.1 ″  E.

Works (selection)

Not considered are u. a. Numerous articles by Paasche that appeared in periodicals, especially in the vanguard .


in order of appearance

  • Magnus Schwantje : Hans Paasche. His life and work . New Fatherland publishing house, Berlin 1921.
  • Otto Wanderer (d. I. Otto Buchinger ): Paasche book . Young People Publishing House, Hamburg 1921.
  • Helmut Donat , Wilfried Knauer (ed.): "On the run" shot…. Writings and articles by and about Hans Paasche . Donat, Bremen 1981.
  • Reinhold Lütgemeier-Davin: Hans Paasche (1881–1920), life reformer, anti-Prussian, revolutionary . In: Yearbook of the Archives of the German Youth Movement , Vol. 13 (1981), pp. 187–194.
  • Peter Morris-Keitel: Revaluation of all values. Hans Paasche's "Lukanga Mukara" reread . In: Yearbook of the Archives of the German Youth Movement , Vol. 17 (1988–1992), pp. 163–176.
  • Peter Morris-Keitel: Heavenly Conditions. On Hans Paasche's world conservation concept . In: Jost Hermand (Ed.): People die with the trees. On the cultural history of ecology . Böhlau, Cologne 1993, pp. 221-240.
  • Karl H. Solbach: Hans Paasche - officer, reformer, revolutionary . In: Cornelius Neutsch, Karl H. Solbach (Ed.): Journey to the Imperial Era. A German kaleidoscope, based on Hans Paasche, “The African Lukanga Mukara's research trip to the heart of Germany” . Kiepenheuer, Leipzig 1994.
  • P. Werner Lange : Hans Paasche's research trip to the heart of Germany. A biography , with a preface by Helga Paasche and a bibliography. Donat-Verlag, Bremen 1995, ISBN 3-924444-02-1 .
    • English translation: Hans Paasche. Militant Pacifist in Imperial Germany . Translated by David Koblick. Trafford, Victoria 2005.
  • Winfried Mogge:  Paasche, Hans Albert Ferdinand. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 19, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-428-00200-8 , p. 735 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Lothar Wieland: From Imperial Officer to German Revolutionary - Stages in the Change of Lieutenant Hans Paasche (1881–1920) . In: Wolfram Wette , Helmut Donat (ed.): Pacifist officers in Germany, 1871–1933 . Donat-Verlag, Bremen 1999, ISBN 3-931737-85-3 , pp. 169-179.
  • Gottfried Paasche, Joaquin Kuhn (ed. And translator): The Strange Story of the Shooting of Captain Hans Paasche. The Writings and Actions of a Peace Martyr. The Writings and Actions of a Peace Martyr and New Translations of Two Works, My Share of the Guilt for the World War [and] The Loss of Africa 1919 . Blue Riding Imprint, Toronto 2001.
  • Ingrid Laurin: Hans Paasche in the morning light . In: Acta Germanica. Yearbook of the South African Association of Germanists , vol. 30/31 (2002/2003). Lang, Frankfurt am Main / Bern / New York 2003, pp. 9–22.
  • Alan Nothnagle: “Who counts the tears that cost?” Hans Paasche's path from colonial officer to pacifist . In: Hans-Martin Hinz, Hans-Joachim Niesei, Almut Nothnagle (eds.): With magic water against bullets. The Maji Maji uprising in the former German East Africa 100 years ago . Lembeck, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-87476-508-3 (= magazine for mission , supplement 7), pp. 125-144.
  • Helmut Donat: Hans Paasche, officer, pacifist . In: Ossietzky 12/2010, accessed on September 9, 2017.
  • Helmut Donat: No turning away from militarism - Hans Paasche and the failure of the November Revolution of 1918 . In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft, vol. 66, 2018, pp. 917–930.
  • Christian Niemeyer: Hans Paasche among daughters of the desert? Critical remarks on hero worship in youth movement historiography . In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft , vol. 68, 2020, issue 3, pp. 210–229.
  • Helmut Donat: rebel in uniform . In: THE TIME . No. 22, May 2020, p. 17

Web links

Wikisource: Hans Paasche  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Hans Paasche  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Commons : Monuments and memorials to Hans Paasche  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The research trip of the African Lukanga Mukara into the inner part of Germany in the Gutenberg-DE project
  2. ^ Emil Julius Gumbel : Four years of political murder in Project Gutenberg ( currently not available to users from Germany ) , p. 64f.
  3. Helene Stöcker describes the death of Paasche in her memoirs, see Helene Stöcker: Memories , edited by Reinhold Lütgemeier-Davin and Kerstin Wolff. Böhlau, Cologne 2015, p. 207.
  4. ^ Bernhard Buchholz: Experiences of the machinist Otto Gehring from SMS "Bussard" during the Maji-Maji uprising in German East Africa. Without location information. Without a time. Pages 1-2. ( online )
  5. Werner Lange: Hans Paasche's Research Trip into Inner Germany , Bremen 1995, p. 127 f.
  6. The total print run can hardly be determined because several pirated prints were made, according to Werner Lange: Hans Paasches Forschungsreise ins innerste Deutschland , Bremen 1995, p. 125. The most recent edition was published in Bremen 2010 , accessed on May 7, 2012.
  7. Jürgen von Stackelberg: Crossing borders. Studies in literature, history, ethnology and ethology . Universitätsverlag Göttingen, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-940344-04-5 , therein the chapter The story of the “noble savages”, from Columbus to Gauguin , pp. 113–124, here p. 115.
  8. Magnus Schwantje: Hans Paasche. His life and work . Berlin 1921, p. 11.
  9. Lothar Wieland: From Imperial Officer to German Revolutionary , p. 175.
  10. Werner Lange: Hans Paasche's Research Trip into Inner Germany , Bremen 1995, p. 197.
  11. ^ Gerhard Engel, Bärbel Holtz, Ingo Materna: Greater Berlin Workers and Soldiers' Councils in the Revolution 1918/19. Documents of the plenary meetings and the executive council. From the outbreak of the revolution to the 1st Reich Councilor Congress . Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1993, p. 359; and Lothar Wieland: From Imperial Officer to German Revolutionary , p. 178.
  12. Werner Lange: Hans Paasche's Research Trip into Inner Germany , Bremen 1995, p. 209.
  13. Werner Lange: Hans Paasche's Research Trip into Inner Germany , Bremen 1995, p. 219.
  14. A white raven . In: Die Weltbühne , vol. 15, number 50 (December 4, 1919).
  15. Quoted from Werner Lange: Hans Paasches Forschungsreise ins innerste Deutschland , Bremen 1995, p. 217.
  16. See Horst Naumann: Pacifist - Revolutionary - Communist. Hans Paasche . In: Contributions to the history of the labor movement , vol. 32 (1990), pp. 250–260.
  17. ^ Lothar Wieland: From Imperial Officer to German Revolutionary , p. 170f.
  18. Werner Lange: Hans Paasche. Militant Pacifist in Imperial Germany , Victoria 2005, p. 246.
  19. Werner Lange: Hans Paasche's Research Trip into Inner Germany , Bremen 1995, p. 225.
  20. ^ Harry Graf Kessler : Diaries 1918–1937 in the Gutenberg-DE project
  21. Paasche . In: Die Weltbühne , vol. 16, number 23 (June 3, 1920), pp. 659–660.
  22. Gerhart Hauptmann: Till Eulenspiegel . In: The narrative work . Propylaeen-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin 1964, Vol. 4, p. 178.
  23. ^ Burg Ludwigstein ( Memento from July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  24. ^ Under Ludwigstein Castle a Hans-Paasche linden tree is growing again in: Ludwigsteiner Blätter, 57th year, issue 236, September 2007 , page 31f. (PDF; 2.2 MB), accessed on September 3, 2017
  25. Werner Lange: The stairs to heaven , accessed on October 25, 2012
  26. Werner Lange: Waldfrieden (Zacisze) , accessed on September 3, 2017
  27. here online an abridged version in the Gutenberg-DE project
  28. Within two years this book had a circulation of 250,000 copies, according to Werner Lange: Hans Paasches Forschungsreise ins innerste Deutschland , Bremen 1995, p. 163. There were also several translations.
  29. With the exception of a few newspaper articles, this anthology contains all of Paasche's publications that relate to Africa - not just his work of the same name from 1919 - in their original length.