PROVENANCE | Ferdinand Hefele, Ship Official and opportunistic Ethnographic Collector Ferdinand Hefele Ship Official and opportunistic Ethnographic Collector Rainer F. Buschmann Ferdinand Hefele (1876-1953) served as the First Officer on the Peiho, the steamer that took the Hamburg South Sea Expedition (1908-1910) to the colony of German New Guinea. During the first year of this famous journey, Hefele clandestinely collected close to 500 artifacts. Ultimately, the ship officer donated the objects to the Linden Museum in Stuttgart in return for a Württemberg state decoration. Hefele was born into a prominent Catholic family in the southern German state of Württemberg. For instance, his father Emil von Hefele was president of the Stuttgart Catholic Church Council and established essential connections with the Württemberg ruling house. Emil von Hefele also went to school with Karl von Linden, who was amassing an extensive collection of ethnographic artifacts in the Württemberg capital that would become the foundation of the museum carrying Linden’s name. Despite his family’s extensive local connections, Ferdinand Hefele opted for an unusual maritime career. In 1902, he joined the Bremen-based Northern German Lloyd. A few years later, he transferred to the Hamburg American Line (HAL) and served on the vessel Deutschland. Hefele (on the left) on a HAL vessel. Museum am Rothenbaum. Kulturen und Künste der Welt. , 3_1204 In 1908, Hefele was chosen as First Officer of the Peiho, serving under captain Richard Vahsel (see provenance biography). The Hamburg Scientific Foundation chartered this vessel with the explicit purpose of ethnographic recording and collecting in German New Guinea. As already mentioned in the Vahsel essay, Hamburg Museum director Georg Thilenius had all official members of the expedition sign contracts obligating them to surrender all their notes and artifacts they collected to the Hamburg institution sponsoring the expedition. Unfortunately, HAL employees, such as Hefele and Vahsel, had no contract provisions and consequently acquired indigenous objects with relative impunity. The participants of the Hamburg South Sea Expedition’s first year on the Peiho. Vahsel is third from left, to his right is expedition leader Friedrich Fülleborn, Hefele is the last person on the right. Museum am Rothenbaum. Kulturen und Künste der Welt. Hefele, perhaps at the urging of his father Emil, contacted Linden in Stuttgart about his potential excursion to the German colony in Oceania. Although he initially offered his services to enrich the ethnographic collections in his hometown, Hefele would soon reveal more personal motives. Aware that Linden had bestowed numerous Württemberg decorations on colonial officers and other officials residing in the German African and Pacific colonies as a reward for ethnographic collections, the ship officer recognized his opportunity. In a letter to Linden’s successor in 1910, Hefele noted: “In my line of work, such a decoration is an absolute necessity. I have witnessed, for instance, that only decorated [HAL] officers were allowed to greet Duke Albrecht during his visit.” With this clear intention in mind, Hefele’s periodic letters to Stuttgart reveal the pursuit of his new “hobby.” While he had no formal training in ethnography, the First Officer held in-depth conversations with fellow expedition participants identifying which artifacts were valuable and worthy of collection. For example, during his first outing on the Peiho through the Bismarck Archipelago, Hefele demonstrated a preference for “portable” artifacts, collecting decorated spears, ladles, and lime spatulas. Nevertheless, he also acquired one of the rare looms from St. Matthias. Ladle, Admiralty Islands, collected by Hefele, Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Photo D. Draschow, 060986. Mask, Arawe Islands, collected by Hefele, Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Photo D. Draschow, 060738. Shield, Montague Harbor New Britain, collected by Hefele, Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Photo D. Draschow, 060775. Hefele also took advantage of the Peiho smaller support boats to collect artifacts while the rest of the expedition members were busy on shore. Visiting more remote villages not contacted by the official team gave him access to a whole array of desired objects. His collection successes and those of other HAL officers greatly enraged the expedition leader Friedrich Fülleborn. When he failed to curb this illicit activity, Fülleborn wrote to Thilenius for assistance. In turn, the museum director contacted the HAL manager, who issued a strong letter reprimanding their employees. Neither Hefele nor the rest of the HAL employees ceased collecting, but they had to conceal their ethnographic treasures carefully. Hefele, on the very right, during the first, Melanesian, leg of the Hamburg Expedition. Museum am Rothenbaum. Kulturen und Künste der Welt, 2_363 Hefele dutifully informed Linden about the actions to prevent his ethnographic collecting. Linden was outraged and, while empathizing with the First Officer, also voiced his frustration: “Envy, jealousy, and covetousness are wide-spread diseases [among ethnographic museums], and Hamburg has been greatly infected by this germ originally emerging out of Berlin… Therefore, please remember to forward all your collected artifacts directly to Stuttgart and, for God’s sake, avoid packing them with the expedition’s objects that are shipped to Germany’s entrance door so stalwartly guarded by Thilenius.” Despite the discouraging atmosphere on the Peiho, Hefele would continue to collect for Linden. He participated in ventures along the northeastern coast of New Guinea and took part in the Peiho’s trip up the Sepik River, a new area recently opened to the ethnographica trade. Although Hefele fully intended to continue his service on the vessel in the second year through Micronesian waters, a stomach illness, possibly brought about by prolonged quinine use, forced his return to Germany. Ceremonial lime container from Malu, Middle Sepik River, collected by Hefele, Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Photo D. Draschow, 060614 Ladle, Tami Island/Huon Gulf, collected by Hefele, Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Photo D. Draschow, 060725 In Germany, Linden passed in early 1910, which complicated the museum’s liberal bestowal of state decorations. Hefele was among the first who saw his decoration in peril, despite his insistence that his ethnographic collection was superior to other donors. Theodor Wanner, who took over the leadership of the society from Linden, sought to renew the agreement with the royal house. Wanner, however, found the formerly generous gate of the royal house locked, and the cabinet chief informed him that the king would no longer accept ethnographic collections as personal gifts. If Hefele, on the other hand, should donate his collections to the Society of Economic Geography, of which Wilhelm II served as protector, the donation would be rewarded with the desired decoration. This cumbersome sidestep ultimately landed Hefele his decoration in August of 1910, obtaining the Knight’s Cross II Class of the Order of Fredrick. In gratitude, Hefele continued to donate artifacts, in much lesser numbers and not from Oceania, to the museum. His last recorded donation, containing a few objects from the Pacific Northwest, occurred in 1937. Order of Fredrick, Knight’s Cross II Class. Reproduced from Wöschler-Orden.de With his decoration, Hefele returned to service with the HAL. Following the First World War, Hefele advanced to captain some of the most prominent HAL vessels in a fleet that was greatly decimated by war reparations. In this function, he entertained numerous foreign dignitaries, such as the famous tenor Enrico Carusso, while crisscrossing the world’s oceans. Unlike many of his fellow German nationals, Hefele did not become resentful of other nations. His cosmopolitanism was best expressed by joining the Stuttgart Rotary Club in 1932, supposedly after retirement from his active maritime service. While a member of this organization, Hefele also worked as a German delegate to the International Danube Commission. Hefele, on the right, in later years on one of the HAL vessels. Museum am Rothenbaum. Kulturen und Künste der Welt, 3_1273 In 1933, when the Nazi Party took power in Germany, members of the Rotary organization were immediately regarded with suspicion. Much like the case of the Freemasons, Nazi officials suspected Rotarians of working against German nationalism while being infiltrated by Jewish propaganda. As a member of this organization, Hefele experienced employment and economic discrimination. Because of such treatment, the Rotary leadership desperately attempted to court Nazi dignitaries. Nevertheless, most German chapters, including Hefele’s Stuttgart branch, disbanded by 1937. Hefele survived the ravages of Nazi rule and the Second World War and passed away in his native Stuttgart in 1958.