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German Catholic Missions in Micronesia

By Francis X. Hezel, S.J.

Religion

Background

As so often happened throughout the world, German missionaries followed a step behind their nation's gunboats and first colonial administrators into the islands. The German missionary effort in Micronesia was the direct consequence of German annexation of its colonial possessions in that area. Establishment of the German protectorate in the Marshall Islands in 1885 and Germany's acquisition of the Carolines and Marianas from Spain in 1899 created a need for German-speaking Catholic missionaries. Unlike Protestant denominations, the Catholic Church did not yet have indigenous church leaders, and it would be years before it got them. In the meantime, the growth of the church in the islands would depend, at least in part, on the church's ability to maintain a smooth working relationship with the foreign government.

German missionaries may have been rather late arrivals to the islands, but missionaries of other nationalities were not. Indeed, Micronesia had the distinction of being the first part of Oceania evangelized. Jesuit missionaries established the first mission in the Mariana Islands in the late seventeenth century, shortly afterwards making a pair of unsuccessful attempts to extend their work into the Western Carolines. Although the Marianas with their greatly reduced population remained a Catholic enclave for the next two centuries, no further attempts were made to bring the Catholic faith to the rest of Micronesia except for a short-lived expedition of French Picpus priests in 1838. Rome formally established a Vicariate of Micronesia in 1844, but this was in reality only a "shadow vicariate" since nothing was done to evangelize the area for another forty years.

Finally, in 1886, barely a year after a heated controversy between Spain and Germany over colonial rights to the Carolines had brought this island group to the attention of all of Europe, the first permanent Catholic mission was opened in that island group. Since the dispute over possession of the Carolines was resolved in favor of Spain, Spanish missionaries were selected to staff the new field. Spanish Capuchins, entrusted by Rome with the newly founded Prefecture of the Carolines, began work in Yap that year and in Pohnpei the next. These two islands, which became the government capitals of the Western Carolines and Eastern Carolines, were to be the hubs from which all Catholic mission ventures radiated for the next thirty-five years.

Spain, having suffered a defeat at the hands of the United States in the Spanish-American War and now watching the last remnants of its once splendid empire dissolve, sold the Carolines and Marianas to Germany for 25 million pesetas in 1899. With its purchase of those islands in which it once carried out its commercial dealings without cost, Germany was fettered with the burden of colonial administration over most of Micronesia.

The Marshalls, the neighboring island group to the east, became a German protectorate at about the same time that the Carolines were annexed by Spain. Just a few years earlier, in 1881, the Vicariate of Micronesia--which actually comprised little more than the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and Nauru--was turned over to the Sacred Heart Missionaries, a congregation that was founded in France not long before and whose membership was largely French. By 1887 they had initiated work in the Gilberts. In 1891 an MSC priest, Fr. Edouard Bontemps, and a brother made a brief reconnaissance visit to the Marshalls with an eye to expanding their mission activity to this group. The German colonial government, fearing that the admission of Catholic missionaries would provoke a hostile reaction from the Protestant population of the Marshalls, denied the MSCs permission to work there. In reality, however, the German government in the Marshalls had strong reasons for welcoming the presence of German-speaking missionaries into the colony. In addition to providing pastoral care and schooling for German administrators and businessmen, many of whom were Catholic, a Catholic mission presence would also serve to check the influence of the Congregational Church, whose past dealings with the government had been troubled.

After a second visit by Fr. Bontemps to the Marshalls, the German commissioner of the Marshalls returned to Berlin to press for approval for the entry of Catholic missionaries. In 1898, following negotiations between the colonial office and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, permission was granted. The Marshalls and Nauru were to be assigned to the German province of the MSCs, while the French would retain the Gilberts. Catholic mission work there would begin the following year.

The Carolines

The first two German Capuchins arrived in the Carolines in 1903 to work alongside their Spanish coreligious. One of the two, Fr. Salesius Haas, was assigned to Yap where he immediately began teaching German to island students. The priest was dismayed at the large numbers of baptized Catholics who had abandoned the church altogether--church rolls showed only half the number of parishioners as at the end of Spanish rule. Even those who remained seldom attended church services. In Salesius' eyes, the fall off in the number of Catholics was owing to the methods of the Spanish priests in former years, especially their readiness to baptize all comers without sufficient instruction. To avoid the same problem, Salesius and his colleagues required that candidates for baptism take lengthy lessons in the faith first.

Salesius had other criticisms of Spanish missionary methods. He thought that they had neglected their obligation to help the people raise their standard of living--or had been remiss in the work for human development, as we might put it today. He also felt that Spanish missionaries were overly dependent on the support of the government, as when the Capuchins in Yap talked the governor into issuing an edict making attendance at the Catholic schools compulsory. When the German government replaced the Spanish and the ordinance was no longer in force, school attendance immediately plummeted from 540 to nine. The German missionaries developed their own style of apostolic work, markedly different from their Spanish predecessors in some ways, yet as dependent on the good graces of the colonial government as the Spanish ever were.

A steady stream of new German missionaries flowed into the Carolines--and the Marianas, which was also a German possession and would soon be joined by ecclesiastical decree to the Carolines. Seven Capuchins from the Rhine-Westphalian Province arrived in 1904, and an equal number were sent out each of the next two years. Most of these men were from Baden and the Rhineland, coming for the most part from small towns rather than the larger cities of Germany. By 1907 German missionaries no longer worked side by side the Spanish; they had replaced them entirely. The summer before, Fr. Daniel Arbacegui, who had been the superior of the Western Carolines for twenty years, departed the mission. Six months later, the last of the Spanish Capuchins embarked on a ship to return to Europe.

The German missionaries were assigned to the three main island groups in the Carolines in which the Spanish Capuchins had worked: Yap, Palau and Pohnpei. By 1911, they had added 'a fourth island group: Chuuk. Once they had learned the rudiments of the language, the priests were distributed to the parishes and mission stations to rebuild the Christian communities and to evangelize. The Capuchins were usually sent out in pairs as they had been during Spanish times, with a priest and brother working as a team. While the priest tended to the pastoral needs of the people, the brother did the construction and maintenance work at the parish, cooked the meals, and generally cared for the day-to-day operations of the residence and church. Within a few years there were ten parishes functioning in the three island groups and three more parishes in the Marianas that the Capuchins were expected to staff.

The Capuchins were quick to sense that any hope of long-range gains in their mission work depended on the influence they exercised on children. Their task, as they saw it, was to create a new environment that was hospitable to the Christianity they were preaching. This could best be achieved by running schools, boarding schools wherever possible, in which they might expose children to a Christian environment while also providing them with useful skills for later life. The missionaries had virtually the entire education field to themselves, since the government operated no public schools in the Carolines and most of the Protestant schools that had once been run on Pohnpei and Chuuk were forced to close because of their inability to comply with the government's German language instruction policy.

In every parish the Capuchins opened a school. Even in the outlying mission stations that they visited only once or twice a month, the missionaries were besieged with requests to start a school. Everywhere people begged the priests to admit their children into the mission schools. One Capuchin working on a heavily Protestant island reported that his school enrollment nearly doubled in the first few months of operation. Another priest stationed in Palau wrote that very few of his students ever missed a day of class even though most had to walk great distances to reach the school. Even in Yap, the island least receptive to education, mission school enrollment was soon back up to almost 500 students, nearly what it had been under the Spanish, but without government-enforced compulsory attendance. The enthusiastic response of people was motivated much more by a desire to learn the German language, which the government hoped to make the lingua franca of the islands, than by any religious interest. Nonetheless, the missionaries had found something with a strong appeal to the local population, and they determined to use it for their own ends.

To help them run these schools, the German Capuchins persuaded an order of Franciscan nuns from Strassburg to establish a mission in the Carolines. In 1907 the first six sisters arrived and were soon teaching in girls: schools on Pohnpei and Yap; two years later girls' schools were also opened on Palau. One of the new arrivals described, in an unintended but striking allegory of deculturation, how the young school girls would gather on a Sunday afternoon preparing to begin the new school week, take off the grass skirts they customarily wore in their own villages and don the dresses that were required of them in the classroom. At meal times, the sisters would watch to make sure that the girls were using their knives and forks rather than their fingers.

The Catholic schools usually offered only a three-year program, with all instruction being done in German. The schools received a subsidy from the colonial government for their language instruction. Despite the brevity of the school program, the schools achieved surprising results. Each year the Capuchin mission annual, Aus den Missionen, displayed letters in German from island children showing off their new language skills. Micronesian children sang German songs and recited German poetry on holidays such as the Kaiser's birthday. One of the priests in Palau looked on in amused astonishment as his boat crew tried to best one another with their knowledge of European geography.

The education that mission schools offered went far beyond the academic. Mission boarding students raised their own food, caring for pigs and chickens under the supervision of the Capuchin brothers and Franciscan sisters. Most of the religious, raised on farms themselves, added their knowledge of European methods of cultivation and livestock production to the fund of local techniques their students possessed. The sisters trained girls in sewing, embroidery, sanitation and domestic duties, while the brothers taught the boys basic carpentry and building skills. All this along with the daily schedule of prayer and religious activities furnished a complete learning environment for the young students.

Whether or not they fulfilled the religious aims for which they were intended, German mission schools must be counted as one of the major successes of the Capuchins in the Carolines. By the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the church was operating twenty schools with a total enrollment of 1,200 students.

Mission work during these years necessarily included much construction, for there were churches, schools, rectories and convents to be built. Most of the Capuchin brothers, whether trained for this work or not, were obliged to do construction. One of their number, Br. Melchior Majewsky, lost his life while working on a church when he was crushed to death by a heavy beam that fell from the ceiling.

Nowhere was there a more extensive and sophisticated building program than on Pohnpei. At the main mission station in Kolonia Brs. Othmar Gesang and Koloman Wiegand dammed a small creek and fabricated a wooden mill wheel to make a sawmill so that they could cut their own lumber for use in construction projects. They also had a kiln for melting down coral into lime for the stone walls of the new church they were building. The operation was expanded to include brick works as well after they accidentally discovered that the mud could be baked into good quality bricks. All of this was artfully employed in the construction of the magnificent new church on Pohnpei, the pride of the mission, which was completed in 1913. With its imposing bell tower (which still stands today) and the graceful lines of it arches, it resembled a small-scale European cathedral more than a Pacific island church.

A dark shadow fell on the mission during the violent uprising of the Sokehs people on Pohnpei in late 1910. German forces, with the aid of Melanesian troops and the support of three warships, quickly put down the uprising, several Pohnpeians were executed and the entire population of Sokehs, numbering about 400 persons, was exiled to Palau. Moreover, Georg Fritz, a former district officer on Pohnpei and author of the government land and labor tax reforms that angered the insurgents, laid the blame for the entire affair on what he labeled divisive Catholic mission policies. Yet even this unfortunate event was an occasion for church growth. Mortlockese families from the Chuuk area had been resettling on Pohnpei ever since a severe typhoon had devastated their islands in 1907. Many had become Catholic and were importuning the mission superior for a priest to be sent to their home islands. With Sokehs now deserted, its former pastor, Fr. Gebhard Rudel, could be spared to found a new mission in the Mortlocks. In April 1911, he and a brother left Pohnpei to begin the first Catholic mission work ever undertaken in the Chuuk area. It was the beginning of a very fruitful ministry.

When Fr. Gebhard arrived on Lukunor, one of the main islands in the Mortlocks, he found the island and its people still reeling from the shock of the typhoon four years earlier. The houses were dilapidated, food production was skimpy, the drinking water was contaminated, and the people were in poor health. A virulent form of dysentery and a typhus epidemic, reportedly brought from Saipan, were causing considerable loss of life; Fr. Gebhard wrote that he officiated at eighteen church funerals within his first few months on the island. The priest sent to Pohnpei for medical supplies and the services of a German physician; then he began explaining to his people what caused their illnesses and how they could improve the quality of their drinking water. By the beginning of 1912 living conditions were improved and the worst of the epidemics was over.

Fr. Gebhard was by no means the only priest who realized that his mission entailed much more than providing spiritual services to his people. Many of the Capuchins supplied medical treatment on a routine basis; some of them, like Fr. Basilius Graf in Palau, became so recognized for this service that they were known by the distinctive local title of "medical specialist." In this and other ways the German missionaries of the period contributed to the improvement of the standard of living and the overall community development of the island people to whom they ministered. In recognition of the growth that this mission field was experiencing, the Vatican elevated its status from a prefecture to a vicariate in March 1911. At the same time, the Holy See announced that the area was to have its first bishop. Fr. Salvator Walleser, who had first come to the mission in 1907 and had served as capuchin superior in Palau since then, was named as the new bishop of the Vicariate of the Caroline and Mariana Islands. The bishop-elect, like several of his colleagues, was well published; besides producing a catechism and book of bible readings in Palauan, he had to his credit a Palauan grammar and a Palauan-German dictionary. Walleser was consecrated bishop in Naples in late 1912, after which he returned to Micronesia, taking up residence on Pohnpei and dignifying the beautiful newly-completed church there with the title of cathedral.

The Marshalls

The work of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in the Marshalls was much more difficult. The island group had been first evangelized by American Protestant missionaries in 1857 and was solidly Congregational within twenty years, with Marshallese pastors replacing the American and Hawaiian missionaries. By the end of the century, the Protestant church had been much more fully integrated into the island life than it had in the neighboring Carolines. Church-run schools were to be found on each atoll and pastors took special pride in numbering the "readers" these schools produced--that is, young Marshallese who were able to read the bible in their own language. If there was any opening at all for the Catholic missionaries, it was to minister to the small community of Germans, many of whom had taken Marshallese wives and who were concentrated for the most part on the islands of Jaluit and Likiep. Jaluit, the capital of the German protectorate, was the commercial center of eastern Micronesia and the headquarters of the major copra trading companies.

Jaluit, then, was selected as the headquarters of the new Catholic mission. It was there that Louis Couppe, the Bishop of New Britain, brought Br. Callixtus Bader in 1899 to install him as temporary overseer of the new mission. Br. Callixtus spent the next year doing the basic organizational work needed to begin operations. On land bought from the Jaluit Company, he singlehandedly built a new residence, renovated the small chapel, and opened a school for the seven students stalwart enough to brave the opposition of local pastors.

Other religious soon arrived to help staff the mission. Fr. Jacob Schmitz, the first priest to be permanently assigned to the Marshalls, appeared in 1900. A year later, Frs. August Erdland and Friedrich Grundl and two lay brothers arrived. In 1902 Jaluit was blessed with the arrival of the first sisters, five religious of the congregation founded by the MSC priest Hubert Linckens to assist his own order in its overseas work.

Opportunities for direct pastoral work on Jaluit were very limited, so the heart of the mission program was the schools-the separate boarding schools for boys and girls run by the priests and sisters. At this time the school had an exclusive clientele of thirty-two boys and twenty-five girls, most of them the children of foreigners or half-castes but a few from the families of full-blooded Marshallese chiefs. The majority of students were non-Catholic, but their parents happily entrusted them to the Catholics because of the superior education they offered.

The educational program at the mission school on Jaluit was modeled on that of a German public elementary school. It offered eight years of education with all instruction done in German. The curriculum was normal elementary school fare: German language, arithmetic, geography, penmanship, and religion. For the rest of the day students worked around the premises with their mentors learning to do the ordinary household chores in a European fashion. Under such a rigorous regimen, students learned German quickly and displayed their knowledge of the language at convocations on feasts and public holidays. The Jaluit mission school was winning a reputation throughout the Marshalls and beyond as the premiere school in all of Micronesia.

Catholic mission work was soon extended from Jaluit to other islands. In 1902 a mission station was opened on Likiep under Fr. Leo Kiefer and a brother. When Fr. Kiefer died suddenly less than a year later, he was succeeded by Fr. Johann Wendler, who served as pastor on the island until his own death in 1912. The first three sisters arrived in 1906 to work in the girls school, while a single MSC brother taught the handful of boys. The schools had a total enrollment of thirty-five, all of them day students. The mission work on Likiep was much less centered on education than it was on Jaluit. The priests made a number of converts, especially from the half-caste DeBrum and Capelle families that had purchased the island thirty years earlier and ran the copra plantation and shipbuilding industry there.

Nauru, then a part of the Marshalls Mission, was the next destination of the MSC missionaries. In early 1903, Fr. Grundl and Br. Callixtus were transferred from Jaluit to staff this new field, with sisters following them a year later. In time two separate stations were in operation on the island: Arubo and Menen. Although Nauru was staffed by only two priests and a few sisters for the next several years, conversions to Catholicism there were far more numerous than in the Marshalls.

The mission reached the furthest extent of its expansion when a last station was set up on Arno in 1906. Fr. Joseph Filbry was sent with a brother to open the station, and two years later three sisters were assigned to teach in the girls school. At first the solidly Protestant community on Arno seemed surprisingly receptive to the Catholic school; thirty girls were enrolled during the first few months. Then, as local opposition mounted, students began withdrawing from the school. In time the sisters had to struggle to retain even three or four of their most loyal pupils, and finally there was but a single girl left. Things improved afterward--the enrollment built up once again and the sisters made a few conversions--but Arno remained the most difficult and unrewarding of the mission stations.

As the flow of missionaries continued during these early years, the enterprise in the Marshalls grew in size and stature. By a decree of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith on September 12, 1905, the Marshall Islands was split from the Gilberts and made a separate vicariate. Fr. August Erdland was appointed the apostolic vicar of this new ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Like Salvator Walleser and several of his colleagues in the Carolines, Erdland was well on the way to becoming a recognized authority on the language and culture of the area in which he worked. Erdland had written a dictionary and grammar of Marshallese that was subsequently published as well as a volume on Marshallese culture and numerous other ethnographic articles. The new vicar apostolic was the missionary scholar par excellence.

The Germans succeeded in building an admirable base for their work in the Marshalls. The three mission sites were outfitted with fine buildings, linked by a mission vessel that sailed between the islands, and staffed at a level that has yet to be equalled. In 1914 there were twenty missionaries working in the Marshalls and six more on Nauru. The schools on Likiep and Arno had their trials, but the educational project on Jaluit proved to be a spectacular success. The Jaluit school was so highly esteemed that Marshallese commoners were braving the fury of their own pastors to register their children there and its enrollment reached a peak of eighty students. Nevertheless, the pastoral dividends of this work were disappointing. Although the missionaries had made some conversions over the years, the Catholic population in the Marshalls in 1914 stood at only 180, less than half the number of Catholics on Nauru alone.

The Farewell and the Legacy

At the outbreak of the First World War, the Japanese Navy pounced on the islands and seized possession of them. Naval warships flying the Rising Sun steamed into all the major islands in late September and early October 1914, disgorging hundreds of marines who, with rifles leveled and bayonets fixed, overran the German colonies. There was no resistance offered and no casualties suffered, but most German nationals were repatriated within a week or two. The Catholic missionaries were an exception; they were left to continue their work, but under increasingly severe restrictions.

For a time the Catholics schools remained in operation, although their enrollments declined sharply because the political turnover had made the schools largely irrelevant to islanders. Then, in late 1915, the new government issued a proclamation requiring all students to attend the new Japanese public schools. All private schools were to be closed. In time the missionaries found themselves restricted in their movements from one island to another, and eventually they were confined to their immediate surroundings. Meanwhile, the church's communication with the outside world was cut off--and with this its source of funds as well.

The final expulsion of the missionaries was only a matter of time. In Palau, where the local commander was especially hostile, it occurred early. In November 1915, after a summary judgment by a military tribunal, the five Capuchins and five Franciscan sisters were marched down to the dock where they boarded a military transport bound for Japan. On other islands, a few of the missionaries were expelled within the first year or two, but most remained at their post carrying on their ministry under difficult circumstances until 1919. In that year, the remaining priests and sisters were finally sent home. Before they departed, the priests made one final round of visits to the faithful, giving the sacraments to those in need, offering a few words of encouragement to their catechists, and leaving their neophytes a few printed works in their own language--hymnals, catechisms and translations of a few books of the bible--to sustain their faith. The parting was melancholy. As his steamer was pulling out from the dock, one of the Capuchin priests in Chuuk, Fr. Siegbert Gasser, called out with tears in his eyes to his flock: "Carry on and if we do not see each other again on this earth, we will meet in heaven."

So ended the German missionary period in Micronesia. Within a year or two, new missionaries--this time Spanish Jesuits--would be at work in Micronesia to build on what the Germans had accomplished. And the Germans had accomplished a remarkable amount, considering that they had worked in the islands barely twenty years. They left a Catholic population of 5,500 in the islands, nearly double the size of the community they had inherited from the Spanish missionaries. Moreover, they had introduced Catholicism to island groups that had never before been evangelized by Catholic missionaries: Chuuk, Nauru and the Marshalls.

But the legacy the German missionaries left behind was far richer than the Catholics they had baptized and the few books they managed to put in the hands of their parishioners before they were carried off to their homeland. They had brought three new vitally important dimensions to the concept of missionary work in the islands: education, community development and scholarship.

The strong education system they developed during their few years of mission work represented a genuine innovation. In contrast to earlier mission schools, both Catholic and Protestant, which provided little more than religious instruction, the German Catholic schools offered an integral educational program. The curriculum of these schools included language training, arithmetic, social science and the arts--the core of the Western curriculum--in addition to solid skills training in vocational arts and religion. Although the German schools enrolled relatively few children, they broke new ground in the type of education they offered young islanders. Beyond this, the German missionaries provided comparable educational opportunities for girls when they brought religious sisters to Micronesia for the first time. The educational system they pioneered would become the model for later Catholic education, especially after the Second World War.

The German missionaries understood that their main task was to preach the gospel to the people to whom they had been sent. As they did so, however, they could not help but respond to the other, less directly spiritual needs of the people they served. In the aftermath of the severe typhoons that struck the islands during their early years in Micronesia, they assisted relocated groups in rebuilding their homes and lives in their new surroundings. The medical assistance that Fr. Gebhard provided for the people of the Mortlocks had its parallels in other places. Brothers skilled in construction taught people to build in lumber and stone. Mindful of Fr. Salesius' criticism of their predecessors' limited concerns, the German missionaries contributed when they could to the improvement of the standard of life among the islanders.

Finally, the German priests brought to their missionary work a strong interest in the cultures and languages of the area that issued in an impressive list of publications. Salvator Walleser's linguistic works on Palau and August Erdland's dictionary and grammar of Marshallese were the most notable but by no means the only examples of their linguistic scholarship. Paulinus Borocco produced a Yapese grammar, and Callistus Lopinot published a dictionary and grammar of Chamorro along with a half dozen works in the vernacular. The German missionary contribution to ethnography is even more impressive. Erdland published a volume on the people with whom he worked, Die Marshall-Insulaner: Leben and Sitte, Sinn and Religion eines Sudsee-Volkes; and Salesius Haas produced a book-length work on Yap, Die Karolinen-Insel Jap. Lorenz Bollig's Die Bewohner der Truck-Insel remains a classic work on Chuuk even today. Sixtus Walleser turned out a series of scholarly articles on Yap published in Anthropos. The scholarly output of these missionaries, which not been equalled since, affords more than ample testimony that this period was the golden age of scholarship in the Micronesian mission.

Review of the Literature

For an overview of the history of Catholic missionary activity in Micronesia from its inception to the present see Francis X. Hezel, SJ, The Catholic Church in Micronesia (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1991). This same author has written a survey of the historical materials in "The Catholic Missions in the Caroline and Marshall Islands," Journal of Pacific History, V (1970): 213227.

A short monograph on the history of the Spanish and German Capuchin work in Micronesia was written by Fr. Callistus Lopinot, OFM Cap, and published in a private printing in 1964 at the ordination of the first diocesan priest from the Carolines. The work was issued by the Capuchin Order at Koblenz -Ehrenbreitstein on the Rhine under the title Die Karolinenmission der spanischen and deutschen Kapuziner 1886-1919. The work includes a list of Capuchin mission personnel and statistics from all the parishes served by them. Kilian Muller produced another short history of German Capuchin activity, Bericht caber die Missionen der Kapuziner (Limburg 1908). Salvator Walleser left in unpublished form a monograph describing island life-"Memoria sobre la situacion religiosa actual y necesidades de las islas"-that was intended for use as a vademecum by the Jesuits who followed the Capuchins into the Carolines.

Other sources on the German Capuchins and their work in Micronesia include the select letters of missionaries published in the Capuchin yearbook, Analecta OM Cap, between 1907 and 1916. The periodical Die Katholischen Missionen contains articles of interest on certain phases of the history of this period. References to these articles are to be found in Streit-Didinger, Bibliotheca Missionum, XXI (Freiburg 1955), pp 620-626. Undoubtedly the best published source is the Capuchin mission annual, Aus den Missionen, produced by the Rhine-Westphalian Province between the years 1907 and 1921 to publicize its work in Micronesia. Each of its issues (typically 50 or 60 pages) contains letters from the field as well as an account of the mission during the previous year.

Archival sources on the German Capuchins are found in Rome at the Istituto Storico dei Cappucini and at the provincial headquarters of the Rhine-Westphalian Province in Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein. The unpublished materials at the latter place include diaries and journals kept by missionaries in Chuuk and Pohnpei, among them Frs. Siegbert Gasser and Lorenz Bollig.

Polemical booklets were published on the role of the Capuchin missionaries in the 1910 uprising on Pohnpei. The former district officer of Pohnpei, Georg Fritz, blamed the missionaries for the insurrection in his pamphlet Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam: Die Vorgeschichte des Aufstandes von 1910/11 in Ponape (Leipzig 1912). When Kilian Muller responded with Ponape: Eine Erwiderung (Kiln 1912), Fritz responded with another volley in a new critique of the missionaries, Die Kapuziner in Ponape (Leipzig 1913).

A few published articles in Katholischen Missionen on the Japanese takeover should be noted: "Die Besetzung der Marianen and Karolinen durch die Japaner," KM, XLIV (1915-16), pp 64-66; "Das Ende der Mission auf den Marshallinseln," KM, XLVIII (1919-20), pp 98-100, 113-4, 129-30; and "Die Karolinenmission and ihre Weschselfalle," KM, L (1921-22), pp 157-158.

One of the most valuable sources on Catholic work in the Marshalls and its cultural background is Fr. Hubert Linckens' book, Auf den Marshall-Inseln (Hiltrup bei Munster 1912). Linckens also published a history of the German Province of his order on their silver jubilee: Die deutsche Proving der Missionare vom heilesten Herzen Jesu (Hiltrup bei Munster 1922). The Sacred Heart mission monthly periodical Hiltruper Monatshefte published in Tilburg contains a number of articles on the MSC mission in the Marshalls.

Among the few published accounts of the missionary sisters serving in Micronesia is a history of the Franciscan Sisters of Strassburg published privately under the title Erinnerungen an die Ehrwurdige Mutter M. Alexia (Milwaukee 1929). Two chapters of the volume describe the congregation's work in the Carolines and offer firsthand accounts of some of the sisters who served there. There are also a couple of short unpublished reminiscences penned by MSC sisters in the Marshalls. The authors are Sr. Georgia [Helena Loesing] and Sr. Blanka [Maria Wieschemeyer], and photocopies of their accounts are held in the Micronesian Seminar collection, Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia.

The catechetical and instructional material that the missionaries produced is too abundant to be listed here, but Streit-Didinger's Biblioteca Missionum lists much of it under each author-eg, Salvator Walleser (p 505), Callistus Lopinot (p 623-4), Paulinus Borocco (pp 620-1), Paulus Fischer (p.622), and Siegbert Gasser (p 622). Some of these works can be found in one of the larger libraries in Micronesia: the Micronesian Area Research Center collection at the University of Guam, Mangilao, Guam; or the Micronesian Seminar collection on Pohnpei, FSM.

Most of the ethnographical material written by the German missionaries, including Lorenz Bollig's volume on Chuuk and August Erdland's book on the Marshalls, was published in the Anthropos Ethnologische Bibliothek series that came out of Munster. Erdland also had several articles published in the years 1909-1912 in the journal of the same name, which was printed in Vienna. Sixtus Walleser's three articles, one of which was a long and valuable study of religious practices and beliefs on Yap, were also published in the journal Anthropos.


Edited by Hermann Hiery, Handbuch der deutschen Sudsee, Paderborn, Munchen: Die Deutsche Bibliothek, 2001: 558-603.

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