German Empire Passport 1892 Singapore

Germany Consulate Singapore 1892This German Empire Passport was issued in 1892 in Singapore

and is a rare collectible I never saw before. What an outstanding find and addition to my archive! Once again, I have to say “Thank you” to my fellow German collector who made it possible for me to acquire this outstanding, unusual and rare travel document.

Hans Hermann Eschke (10 November 1856 in Berlin – 19 July 1904 in Singapore) was the first German Consul General in Singapore. Eschke, a jurist, initially joined the Prussian Ministry of Justice. He served as an attaché at the German embassy in London, after which he was sent to Singapore in 1889 as consul – the first career diplomat in the German Foreign Office to hold this post in Singapore. The German Empire was interested in widening its influence in the region, particularly in Tsingtao, China.

At the end of 1898, Eschke was appointed the German Resident Minister in Bangkok, a temporary posting that lasted just over a year. During this period, his father-in-law Theodor, who had acted as the German honorary consul in Singapore before Eschke arrived, replaced him. In 1901, the German Consulate in Singapore was upgraded to a Consulate General, and Eschke became the first Imperial German Consul General. That same year, his administrative jurisdiction was extended to the Johor Sultanate.

In January 1902, Eschke, still based in Singapore, was concurrently appointed consul for the British-controlled part of Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak, Labuan, and the Federated Malay States. In addition, Eschke was in charge of the Austro-Hungarian Consulate General. In December 1903, he took charge of the Turkish Consulate General as well. He had previously performed the same function at the local Russian diplomatic mission. For much of his time in Singapore, Eschke was the doyen of the consular corps. He held the rank of Hauptmann (Captain) in the Landwehr.

Eschke was held in high esteem in Singapore

throughout his stay in the Straits, not only for representing German interests but also as an “adopted” Singaporean by the locals, having lived there so long. These sentiments were echoed and emphasized in the local press following his unexpected death after a sudden and nasty bout of dysentery in July 1904. He was 47.

Both the Straits Times and the now-defunct Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser carried detailed obituaries. The Singapore Free Press wrote:

“Amongst his people, he had earned by his devotion to German interests a striking popularity, and those members of the general community who were not brought into familiar relations with him by nationality and mother tongue had learned to recognize his sterling qualities and estimate his upright principles correctly.”

 

Eschke’s grave was initially located at the Bukit Timah Cemetery, which was cleared in 1971 and turned into a park. Twelve grave monuments, including that of Eschke, were relocated to Fort Canning Green.

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