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Solf-ish Colonialism

Back in my youth when I was a college student I had some very interesting professors, one was a “Yippe”, one was an escapee from a religious order and one was a self avowed Marxist. There I was, a right wing conservative student not overly concerned about my grades as long as I could maintain a “C” average. I was therefore ready and willing to challenge my leftist prof’s in class when ever I disagreed with what they said. The Marxist taught Latin American History and I must admit that he was good, fair and honest. First he would teach the facts and then he would follow up with what he clearly called the “Marxist interpretation”. One day he tore into the evil system of colonialism. I just had to ask “so what exactly is wrong with colonialism? “ The question left him sputtering and upset. I then went on to say that he told us of the brutal way the Spanish ran their colonial system but nothing about system of colonialism itself. I contended that like any other form of government it’s nature for better or worse is determined by the people who run it. For example the Spanish and the Belgians have given us terrible examples of brutal colonial administration. A positive example of a benevolent colonial administration would that of Dr. Wilhelm Solf in German Samoa from 1900-1910. The Samoans never forgot Dr. Solf and in 1980 issued five commemorative coins in his honor. Each coin has a portrait of the good Dr. in his diplomatic uniform wearing a cocked hat plus his orders and decorations. Three crosses and a round medal are on his chest and there is an order around his neck. The neck order is the Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach Order of the White Falcon Commander. The round medal is the 1897 Wilhelm I Centennial medal and the three crosses could be the Prussian Orders of the Red Eagle 3rd Class and the Order of the Crown 3rd Class plus the Oldenburg House Order Knights Class which are all Orders that Dr. Solf had been awarded as of 1908 according to research done by Rick Lundstroem who was a moderator on the Wehrmacht Awards web site. I only wish I had known about Dr. Solf back in my college days. It would have been lots more fun to have had the ability to back up my opinions with some facts.

About Fred Borgmann

Retired from KP after nearly 31 years as new issues editor and the Standard Catalogs.
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