The Pepper Trader: True Tales of the German East Asia Squadron and the Man who Cast Them in Stone

Equinox Publishing, 2006 - 370 ˹
Hidden high in the mountains of Java lies a graveyard surrounded by ancient trees and steeped in Hindu legend. In the middle of this sacred grove stands a tall memorial dedicated to "the brave men" of the German East Asia Squadron. The graves of ten U-boat sailors rest in the shadow of this mysterious white pillar. Who were these men? And why was a monument dedicated to their honour on the flank of a volcano in Indonesia? These were the questions Geoffrey Bennett asked himself when he chanced upon this remarkable site. He soon identified the man who built the memorial as Emil Helfferich, a young German entrepreneur who sailed to the Dutch East Indies in 1901 to make his fortune in pepper. Helfferich befriended the legendary Graf Spee and his sailors when they visited Java. He cheered their exploits in the early months of World War I - victory at Coronel, the swashbuckling raids of Emden, their daring trek on camelback - and he mourned their inevitable demise. Through the eyes of Helfferich, Bennett recounts tales of the tropics, the wider world and the unseen hand that guided the young man's life and loves. The Pepper Trader takes the reader on a romantic journey from Helfferich's village in Germany to the exotic East Indies and back again to his native land. A memorable cast of real characters, mystical creatures and the Queen of the South Sea accompany the reader on this fascinating voyage. This true story is a unique account of long-forgotten events from the last century - and how they continue to affect us today. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Geoffrey Bennett was born in Ottawa, Canada, and has lived in six Canadian cities as well as Denver, Houston, Paris, Jakarta, Singapore and Bangkok. A student of engineering at the Royal Military College of Canada and geophysics at the University of British Columbia, Mr. Bennett has worked as an exploration geophysicist for thirty years, half of that time in Jakarta, Indonesia. In addition to five papers on geophysics, he has written The Jakarta Hike & Bike Trail Guide as well as several articles on birding, Scouting, canoeing and mountaineering.

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Chapter One