Rheinische Handeï-Plantagen-Gesellschaft

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The Rheinische Handeï-Plantagen-Gesellschaft (RHPG) was founded on February 6, 1895 in Cologne under the leadership of the Sal. Oppenheim jr. & Cie. founded colonial society that operated plantings in what was then the colony of German East Africa and, after its loss as a result of the First World War, took part in other colonial societies.

The location of the plantations of the Rheinische Handeï-Plantagen-Gesellschaft in the Usambara region, German East Africa.


The impetus for founding the Rheinische Handeï-Plantagen-Gesellschaft (RHPG) came from the orientalist and archaeologist Max Freiherr von Oppenheim , who in 1893 acquired around 15,000 hectares of land in what was then German East Africa in the region of East Usambara (today's Tanzania ).

In order to use the area for planting purposes, the RHPG was founded in Cologne on February 6, 1895 with a share capital of 600,000 marks , of which 20% was initially paid in. Simon Alfred von Oppenheim, a cousin of Max and a partner in the bank, acted as the first chairman, and merchants and industrialists from Cologne and the Rhineland were the main shareholders.

Long investigations showed that the acquired land was unsuitable for a coffee plantation , so the RHPG exchanged 1,500 hectares of land for 500 hectares from the German East African Society (DOAG). In April 1896, the "Ngambo" coffee plantation was established in this area. Despite numerous problems caused by diseases, drought, shortage of workers and pests that made it difficult to build up the plantation, the first coffee harvest was achieved in 1900.

In addition to the coffee culture, experiments were carried out on the cultivation of rubber ( Manihot Glaziovii ) and cinchona on the "Magunga" plantation . However, this remained an unsuccessful company overall. The same applies to the Montan-Gesellschaft mbH, which RHPG and DOAG founded in 1895 after gold was found in Usambara, and to the Kurasini sisal plant near Dar es Salaam acquired in 1900 . Despite these failures, the RHPG closed the year 1913 with a profit of around 25,000 marks - mainly thanks to the coffee sales.

In the course of the First World War, there was fighting between British and German troops in German East Africa . Although it was possible to keep the planting operations on Ngambo and Magunga during the war, the plantations finally had to be handed over to the victorious British in April 1920. The RHPG was thus deprived of the basis of its economic activity until further notice.

After the end of the First World War, efforts to obtain compensation for the loss of the plantations became the focus. The negotiations with the authorities dragged on for years. Eventually the RHPG received various types of compensation and loans from 1922 to 1929. Instead of establishing new plantations, the RHPG subsequently invested in overseas plantation and trading companies of other companies, which, however, mostly made losses in the 1930s.

In 1946 the tradition of the RHPG suddenly breaks off. Her further fate is unknown.

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Reinhard: History of European Expansion offers an overview of the forms and conditions of colonial economic activity in Africa . Volume 4: Third World Africa. Stuttgart / Berlin / Cologne 1990, pp. 100-103.
  2. On the origin and structure of the German East Africa colony, cf. the entry German East Africa. In: James S. Olson (Ed.): Historical Dictionary of European Imperialism. Westport 1991, pp. 247-248.
  3. On the battles in German East Africa cf. Gerhard Hirschfeld, Gerd Krumeich, Irina Renz (eds.): Encyclopedia First World War. Paderborn 2009, pp. 244–245.

Sources and literature


  • Holdings of the Rheinische Handeï-Plantagen-Gesellschaft in the house archive of the Sal. Oppenheim jr. & Cie., Cologne.


  • Max Freiherr von Oppenheim: Project of a plantation company in Handei (Usambara) in German East Africa . printed as a manuscript, o. O. 1894.
  • Commemorative publication: Rheinische Handeï-Plantagen-Gesellschaft 1895–1938 . o. O., o. J.
  • Gabriele Teichmann, Gisela Völger (Ed.): Fascination Orient. Max von Oppenheim. Researcher. Collector. Diplomat. DuMont, Cologne 2001, ISBN 3-7701-5849-0 .

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