AKA Eduard Carl Oscar Theodor Schnitzer
Birthplace: Oppeln, Silesia, Germany
Location of death: Kinena, Congo
Cause of death: Murder
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Explorer, Naturalist, Government
Executive summary: German colonial traveller in Africa
German traveller, administrator and naturalist, was the son of Ludwig Schnitzer, a merchant of Oppeln in Silesia, and was born in Oppeln on the 28th of March 1840. He was educated at the universities of Breslau, Berlin and Königsberg, and took the degree of M.D. at Berlin. He displayed an early predilection for zoology and ornithology, and in later life became a skilled and enthusiastic collector, particularly of African plants and birds. When he was twenty-four he determined to seek his fortunes abroad, and made his way to Turkey, where, after practicing medicine on his own account for a short time, he was appointed (in 1865) quarantine medical officer at Antivari. The duties of the post were not heavy, and allowed him leisure for a diligent study of Turkish, Arabic and Persian. From 1870-74 he was in the service of the governor of northern Albania, had adopted a Turkish name (though not that by which he afterwards became so widely known), and was practically naturalized as a Turk.
After a visit home in 1875 he went to Cairo, and then to Khartoum, in the hope of an opportunity for travelling in the interior of Africa. This came to him in the following year, when General Charles George Gordon, who had recently succeeded Sir Samuel Baker as governor of the equatorial provinces of Egypt, invited Schnitzer, who was now known as "Emin Effendi", to join him at Lado on the upper Nile. Although nominally Gordon's medical officer, Emin was soon entrusted with political missions of some importance to Uganda and Unyoro. In these he acquitted himself so well that when, in 1878, Gordon's successor at Lado was deprived of his office on account of malpractices (Gordon himself having been made governor-general of the Sudan), Emin was chosen to fill the post of governor of the Equatorial Province (the old equatorial provinces minus the Bahr-el-Ghazal) and given the title of "bey." He proved an energetic and enterprising governor; indeed, his enterprise on more than one occasion brought him into conflict with Gordon, who eventually decided to remove Emin to Suakin. Before the change could be effected, however, Gordon resigned his post in the Sudan, and his successor revoked the order.
The next three or four years were employed by Emin in various journeys through his province, and in the initiation of schemes for its development, until in 1882, on his return from a visit to Khartoum, he became aware that the Mahdist rising, which had originated in Kordofan, was spreading southward. The effect of the rising was, of course, more markedly felt in Emin's province after the abandonment of the Sudan by the Egyptian government in 1884. He was obliged to give up several of his stations in face of the Mahdist advance, and ultimately to retire from Lado, which had been his capital, to Wadelai. This last step followed upon his receipt of a letter fom Nubar Pasha, informing him that it was impossible for the Egyptian government to send him help, and that he must stay in his province or retire towards the coast as best he could. Emin (who about this time was raised to the rank of pasha) had some thoughts of a retreat to Zanzibar, but decided to remain where he was and endeavor to hold his own. To this end he carried on protracted negotiations with neighboring native potentates. When, in 1887, Henry Morton Stanley's expedition was on its way to relieve him, it is clear from Emin's diary that he had no wish to leave his province, even if relieved. He had done good work there, and established a position which he believed himself able to maintain. He hoped, however, that the presence of Stanley's force, when it came, would strengthen his position; but the condition of the relieving party, when it arrived in April 1888, did not seem to Emin to promise this. Stanley's proposal to Emin, as stated in the latter's diary, was that Emin should either remain as governor-general on behalf of the king of the Belgians, or establish himself on Victoria Nyanza on behalf of a group of English merchants who wished to start an enterprise in Africa on the model of the East India Company. After much hesitation, and prompted by a growing disaffection amongst the natives (owing, as he maintained, to his loss of prestige after the arrival of Stanley's force), Emin decided to accompany Stanley to the coast, where the expedition arrived in December 1889. Unfortunately, on the evening of a reception dinner given in his honor, Emin met with an accident which resulted in fracture of the skull. Careful nursing gradually restored him to health, and on his convalescence he resolutely maintained his decision to remain in Africa, and, if possible, to work there in future on behalf of the German government. The seal was definitely set upon this decision by his formal engagement on behalf of his native country, early in 1890. Preparations for a new expedition into the interior were set on foot, and meanwhile Emin was honored in various ways by learned societies in Germany and elsewhere.
The object of the new expedition was (to quote Emin's instructions) "to secure on behalf of Germany the territories situated south of and along Victoria Nyanza up to Albert Nyanza", and to "make known to the population there that they were placed under German supremacy and protection, and to break or undermine Arab influence as far as possible." The force, which was well equipped, started at the end of April 1890. But before it had penetrated far inland the political reasons for sending the expedition vanished with the signature, on the 1st of July 1890, of the Anglo-German agreement defining the spheres of influence of the two nations, an agreement which excluded the Albert Nyanza region from the German sphere. For a time things went well enough with the expedition; Emin occupied the important town of Tabora on the route from the coast to Tanganyika and established the post of Bukoba on Victoria Nyanza, but by degrees ill-fortune clouded its prospects. Difficulties on the route; dissensions between Emin and the authorities in German East Africa, and misunderstandings on the part of both; epidemics of disease in Emin's force, followed by a growing spirit of mutiny among his native followers; an illness of a painful nature which attacked him -- all these gradually undermined Emin's courage, and his diaries at the close of 1891 reflect a gloomy and almost hopeless spirit. In May that year he had crossed into the Congo State by the south shore of Albert Edward Nyanza, and many months were spent on the borders of the great Congo Forest and in the Undusuma country south-west of Albert Nyanza, breaking ground new to Europeans. In December 1891 he sent off his companion, Dr. Stuhlmann, with the bulk of the caravan, on the way back to the east coast. Emin remained behind with the sick, and with a very reduced following left the lake district in March 1892 for the Congo river. On reaching Ipoto on the Ituri he came within the region of the Arab slave raiders and ivory hunters, in whose company he at times travelled. These gentry were incensed against Emin for the energetic way in which he had dealt with their comrades while in German territory, and against Europeans generally by the campaign for their suppression begun by the Congo State. At the instigation of one of these Arabs Emin was murdered on the 23rd or 24th of October 1892 at Kinena, a place about 80 miles east-southeast of Stanley Falls.
Father: Ludwig Schnitzer (merchant, d. 1845)
Mother: Pauline Schweitzer
University: University of Breslau
University: University of Königsberg
Medical School: MD, University of Berlin (1864)
German East Africa Company
Converted to Islam
Do you know something we don't?
Submit a correction or make a comment about this profile
Copyright ©2014 Soylent Communications