John Paul (explorer)

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John Paul around 1952.

Ernst Johannes Paul (born February 26, 1902 in Lorenzkirch in Saxony, † December 9, 1958 in Göttingen ) was a German explorer , legation adviser , publisher and author .


Johannes Paul was born on February 26, 1902 in the rectory in Lorenzkirch. His father Carl Paul (1857–1927) was an Evangelical Lutheran pastor there ; on September 21, 1911, the father became mission director of the Leipzig Mission and honorary professor for mission history and mission studies in Leipzig .

Johannes Paul attended a humanistic grammar school in Leipzig and passed his Abitur on March 7, 1922 . He then studied philology in Leipzig and Munich, and on August 2, 1927, he passed the state examination for higher teaching qualifications. On November 18, 1927 , he received his doctorate as Dr. phil. with his dissertation : The territorial expansion of British rule in South Africa up to the founding of Rhodesia. A political-geographical study of recent colonial history. The dissertation also served as preparation for his research trip to South Africa.

Research trip to South Africa and Namibia

In the period from December 10, 1927 to May 13, 1930, he undertook a geographic research trip to South Africa and Namibia . In South Africa he toured the Cape Province with Transkei , Natal and Transvaal in the then South African Union . He published the research results in his 1932 essay Population Problems in the South Africa Union.

In Namibia he examined the geography and ethnic composition of the population. From October to December 1928 and from May to June 1929 he placed particular emphasis on research into Ovamboland in north-central Namibia and the Ovambo tribe . He published the results of the research trip to Namibia in 1931 under the title Germans, Boers and Englishmen in South West Africa , then in the lexicon article German South West Africa and in 1933 under the title Economy and Settlement in Southern Amboland . Photographs from the research trip appeared in the last-mentioned book in 1933 and in the book in 1942: Africa waits. A picture book on colonial politics.

He handed over the collection of photos created during this research trip to the Museum of Ethnology in the Museum of Applied Arts, Grassi Museum in Leipzig. His duplicate of this photo collection was destroyed in an air raid on Berlin.

As a prospective teacher, he was also interested in the German schools abroad in Wynberg near Cape Town and in Swakopmund on the research trip . He taught at the German School Abroad in Swakopmund from March 4 to August 11, 1928. The experience he gained was useful for his later position in the Foreign Office.

Head of House

After his return to Germany, he worked from July 1, 1930 in the Saxon school service. At Easter 1931 he became a study assessor . After that he was tutor for a landowner in Lampertswalde in Saxony. Urged by the landlord's family, he joined the NSDAP , the SA and the National Socialist Teachers' Association (NSLB) on May 1, 1933 .

Work in the Foreign Office

Since Johannes Paul had worked at the German school abroad in Swakopmund , he applied to the Foreign Office for a vacant teaching position at a German school abroad. The Foreign Office decided to use him in the Foreign Service . Since then he has lived in Berlin. In 1943 the house in which he lived was destroyed in an air raid. With that he not only lost his household, but also the records and image documents of his research trip.

He started on April 4, 1934 in the Foreign Office as a research assistant. On 21 October 1936 he was appointed Secretary of Legation and then without further increased salaries on 17 November 1943 Legationsrat and on May 22, 1944 Legation transported. He worked in the culture department and from May 5, 1936 in the cultural policy department. He was initially employed in Ref. 6 (German Schools Abroad) and later in Ref. Gen II (General Questions of Foreign Information). Business trips took him to England, Italy, Hungary, Croatia and Spain to visit German schools abroad and the responsible German embassy or consulate. After the Röhm putsch , he resigned from the SA at the end of 1934 with the tacit approval of his superiors.

His personal goal was to keep German schools abroad free from the political influences of National Socialism . Because of this, he kept getting into trouble with the NSDAP's foreign organization . Until the summer of 1944 he was only used in the internal service of the Foreign Office. From June 8, 1944, he worked as a clerk for school issues in the German embassy in Madrid . Because of disputes with the representatives of the NSDAP there, he was transferred back to Germany in February 1945. A document signed by Adolf Hitler on February 23, 1945 put him on hold . His later efforts to be re-employed in the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany were in vain, apparently because he had not worked in the Foreign Office in accordance with the system during his service in the Third Reich and had not followed the instructions of the NSDAP.

Kurt Döhner, former director of the German School in Rome, wrote in 1948: From my own experience I can now say: Dr. For many years Paul has bravely resisted within the scope of the possibilities given by his position and thus contributed to the fact that the German school system abroad can look back on a faultless activity today.

In the denazification proceedings , twelve witnesses who had not belonged to the NSDAP presented notarized affidavits in which they judged John Paul and his work in the Nazi state . Since John Paul was able to prove through these testimonies that he had kept harm away from the German schools abroad during his service in the Foreign Office as far as possible, he was denazified by the British military government in Wilmersdorf on March 11, 1949 under file number 11506 .

Publishing editor and travel writer

From the end of 1945 he worked at the Gesellius bookstore and from May 15, 1950 as a publishing editor at the Evangelische Verlagsanstalt in East Berlin . In this publishing house he published his book: From Greenland to Lambarene. Travel descriptions by Christian missionaries from three centuries. This volume contains travelogues by Hans Egede , Plinius Fisk, Reginald Heber , Eugène Casalis , Wilhelm Posselt , David Livingstone , John S. Paton, Jane Edkins, Alexander Merensky , Johannes Warneck , Martin Wilde, Bruno Gutmann, Gerhard Rosenkranz and Albert Schweitzer .

At the beginning of January 1954 he moved from West Berlin to Hamburg and in the same year published the book Adventurous Journey through Life - Seven Biographical Essays in the Wilhelm Köhler Verlag in Minden. This volume contains biographies by Marco Polo , Georg Forster , Fürst Pückler , Johann Gottfried Seume , Fridtjof Nansen , Alexander von Humboldt and Sven Hedin .

On September 27, 1955 he moved to live with relatives in Niedernjesa and devoted himself to his writing. August 1, 1956, he was supported by the federal government in the retirement staggered. From June 20, 1957, he worked in Göttingen for the German Association of Evangelical Libraries . He died on December 9, 1958 in Göttingen and was buried in the Niedernjesa cemetery. In 1958 he saw the publication of the book Von Grönland bis Lambarene, which had previously only appeared in the German Democratic Republic . Travel descriptions by Christian missionaries from three centuries in the Federal Republic of Germany published by Kreuz-Verlag Stuttgart.



  • Maria Keipert (Red.): Biographical Handbook of the German Foreign Service 1871–1945. Published by the Foreign Office, Historical Service. Volume 3: Gerhard Keiper, Martin Kröger: L – R. Schöningh, Paderborn u. a. 2008, ISBN 978-3-506-71842-6 , pp. 440f.

Archival documents

  • Johannes Paul's personal file in the Political Archive of the Foreign Office in Berlin

Web links

Commons : Johannes Paul  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The sources for the paragraph "Work in the Foreign Office" are the family property of Johannes Paul and the personal files of Johannes Paul in the Political Archives of the Foreign Office in Berlin.
  2. Affidavit from Dr. Kurt Döhner of September 18, 1948 for the denazification process.