Theodor Ziegler (1870 – 1946) was an enlisted man in the Imperial German Navy from January 3, 1891 until January 20, 1903. He began as a Machinist’s Mate on a light cruiser and advanced to a rank equivalent to Chief Petty Officer, in charge of the engines of a battleship. In 1904, he emigrated to the United States. He was employed as Chief Engineer at several mines operated by the Amour Company, before settling in College Park, Georgia, in 1922.
The photographs in this collection serve to document, in part, a cruise he made around the world with the Navy from 1894 to 1896. It consists almost exclusively of purchased, contemporary photographs, some in color, supplemented by two maps which he drew. The photographs are of interest as showing vignettes of contemporary life and of the places visited; also, as showing those places and aspects of life of interest to a perceptive, twenty-four years old German seaman. The collection was obviously limited by its cost and ready availability. The sequence in which the photographs are arranged seems likely to be the order in which those places were seen, but there is no separate documentation of this. However, the picture of Rio de Janeiro obviously belongs before those of Tierra del Fuego. The first two landscapes are from Las Palmas, Grand Canary Island.
Theodor Ziegler sailed, likely in June of 1894, on the cruiser SMS Arcona from Kiel, Germany, to Yokohama, Japan. He passed through the Straits of Magellan in June – winter in the southern hemisphere. The Panama Canal would not be open for another twenty years.
The first map shows the Arcona’s track around South America. The center of each circle shows the approximate noon position of the ship. The dates are given as “Day, Month.”
In October 1894, the Arcona became the flagship of the East Asian Cruiser Division. Later, she proceeded to Shangdong province, China, where Germany had diplomatic and commercial interests, probably using Tschifu, now Yantai, as a base. At the nearby port of Weihai, then Wei-Hai-Wei, a battle of the first Sino-Japanese War had recently been won by the Japanese. The second map is Theodor Ziegler’s careful sketch showing the initial disposition of the Chinese forces. A few photographs of the battlefield are included.
The Arcona remained in Chinese and Japanese waters until 1899, when it returned to Kiel. The ship on which Theodor Ziegler returned home in 1896 is unknown. He would, however, have traveled as a passenger on a ship of the North German Lloyd Lines. In those days, this was the Navy’s usual way of changing crewmen and very good for morale.