Date of death: 10 September 1918 Bad Harzburg, Germany
Carl Peters was a German explorer, journalist and philosopher, instrumental in the founding of German East Africa and helped create the European “Scramble for Africa”. Despite being vilified for cruelty to Africans and removed from office, he was later praised by Kaiser Wilhelm II and was considered a German hero by Hitler.Carl Peters was born the son of a minister on 27 September 1856. He attended the local monastery school in Ilfeld until 1876 and then attended college in Goettingen, TÃ¼bingen, and Berlin where he studied history, philosophy, and law. His college time was financed by scholarships and through early successes in journalism and writing. In 1879 he left Berlin University with a degree in history. The following year, abandoning a career in law, he left for London where he stayed with a wealthy uncle.During his four years in London, Carl Peters studied British history and investigated its colonial policies and philosophy. Returning to Berlin after his uncle’s suicide in 1884, he helped establish the “Society for German Colonisation” [Gesellschaft fÃ¼r Deutsche Kolonisation].
In 1891 Carl Peters was made the commissioner to renamed protectorate of German East Africa, based in a newly created station near Kilimanjaro. By 1895 rumours reach Germany of cruel and unusual treatment of Africans by Peters (he is known in Africa as “Milkono wa Damu” – “the Man with Blood on his hands”) and he is recalled from German East Africa to Berlin. A judicial hearing is undertaken the following year, during which Peters relocates to London. In 1897 Peters is officially condemned for his violent attacks on African natives and is dismissed from government service. The judgement is severely criticised by the German press.
In London Peters sets up an independent company, the “Dr Carl Peters Exploration Company”, which funds several trips to German East Africa and to British territory around the Zambezi River. His adventures form the basis of his book Im Goldland des Altertums (The Eldorado of the Ancients) in which he describes the region as being the fabled lands of Ophir.
In 1909 Carl Peters married Thea Herbers and, having been exonerated by the German emperor Wilhelm II and granted a state pension, he returns to Germany on the eve of the First World War. Having published a handful of books on Africa Peters retires to Bad Harzburg, where on 10 September 1918 he dies. During World War II, Adolf Hitler refers to Peters as a German hero and his collected works are re-published in three volumes