Friedrich Julius Bieber
wohnhaft in Wien-Hietzing
Published by District Museum Hietzing, 1130 Wien
Text and Layout: Josef Holzapfel
Translation: Klaus Bieber
Photos: District Museum Hietzing, 1130 Wien
© Josef Holzapfel, 1130 Wien
In 1979 the District Museum Hietzing succeeded in acquiring the collection of Friedrich Julius Bieber, which was then still in possession of the family. The objects and photographs were collected during his journeys to Ethiopia in the years 1904 to 1909. They are principally from the region of Kaffa, which is considered as the original home of coffee.
Of the many papers written by Bieber one has to mention in particular his two-volume work: Kaffa. An Acient Cushitic People in Central Africa. Reports about Land and People, about Customs and Habits of the Kafecho or Gonga and the Empire of Kaffa. The real significance of this work has been confirmed in the recent past. Kaffa never had written records, its history was passed on verbally from generation to generation until its downfall in 1897. Only Friedrich Julius Bieber, who was called „Abba Kitaba“ (Father of the Book) by the Kafetcho, recorded all information and knowledge that was still available when he visited Kaffa in 1905. Thereby he saved this knowledge over the following century of political instability. Today his work is one of the most important sources for the people of Kaffa searching for their own roots. This historical consciousness is also promoted by the German Archeaologist Dr. Ruth Sandner, who supports professionally the project of an Open Air Museum in Bonga, the capital of Kaffa.
Since 2003 NABU of Germany (Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) and its many partners are committed to conserve the forests of Kaffa. They are also helping with the sustainable use of wild coffee, regional development and in particular with setting up the worldwide first Coffee Biosphere Reserve. This area of about 760.000 hectares was recognised by UNESCO as Kaffa-Biosphere-Reserve in June 2010.
About this Africa explorer from Hietzing many popular and scientific articles have been written, but most of these appeared many years ago. More recently, one dissertation and two master’s thesis on Bieber’s life and work were presented. But his life history has never been described in such a concise and exact form as has been done in the booklet which is presented here. Two collaborators of the Museum – Dr. Josef Holzapfel and Klaus Bieber, grandson of the explorer – have put together from existing documents a strictly chronological live history. Many of the photographic contributions are appearing for the first time.
In Ethiopia the interest in the person of Friedrich Julius Bieber, the explorer of Kaffa, is increasing, therefore this booklet is also offered in the English language. This work is not only closing a gap, but it can serve as basis for further efforts.
Head of the Museum
Prof. Felix Steinwandtner Vienna, February 2012
Table of Contents
FRIEDRICH JULIUS BIEBER
An Africa Explorer
who was living in Vienna
This brochure wants to give an impression of the life and achievements of Friedrich Julius Bieber. General historical, geographical, ethnological or other scientific information is only given where it is necessary to better understand the life of Bieber, but without raising any scientific claim.
The life of Friedrich Julius Bieber as detailed herein is arranged strictly in chronological order and contains all essential occurrences, as far as they are known. The basic source is principally the dissertation, written at the University of Vienna in 1975 by Dr. Annemarie Herrmann: Africa Explorer Friedrich Julius Bieber (1873–1924): Life and Work. Therein all relevant sources concerning the life history of Bieber are considered, particularly his diaries and the publications of his travelling companions. The authenticity of this dissertation is confirmed by the Bieber Family.
Further more the master’s thesis by Vera Klenner is used: The Ethnographical Collection of the Africa Explorer Friedrich Julius Bieber in the District Museum Wien-Hietzing, University of Vienna, 2001 and the master’s thesis by Hannes Stromberger: „After all, all this is only my work“ the Austrian Africa Traveller Friedrich Julius Bieber (1873 – 1924)
and the Relations between Austria and Ethiopia, University of Vienna, 2007. As far as the life history of Bieber is concerned, these works rely mainly on the dissertation of Dr. Annemarie Herrmann.
A supplementary role play the books by Otto Bieber: Mysterious Kaffa: in the Realm of the God-Emperors, Vienna – Universum Verlag, 1948 and by Otto Stradal: The Way to the last Pharao. Vienna – Volksbuchverlag 1954. These thrillingly and romantically written books often differ from the written-down facts. But they have contributed to the general picture of Friedrich Julius Bieber and therefore various passages are referred to and commented on. This serves as clarification. But there shall also be room for the recollections of Otto Bieber about narrations of his father, which contain true stories.
Substantial sources for this book were also the contributions by Prof. Felix Steinwandtner (Head of the District Museum, Hietzing), Ing. Werner Bartak (friend of the Bieber Family) and Klaus Bieber (grandson of Friedrich Julius Bieber).
Ethiopia and the European Exploration of Kaffa
Ethiopia and Kaffa, which lies in the south-western highlands of Ethiopia, had a determining influence on the life of Friedrich Julius Bieber. Ethiopia, which is ethnically, linguistically, religiously and politically so very diversified, is considered the oldest polity in Africa with a continuity of about twenty centuries. It is also the enclave of (orthodox) Christianity in Africa.
Ethiopia and Abyssinia are often used synonymously for the area in East Africa under the rule of the Habesha (principally the ethnic groups of the Amhara and Tigray as successors to the Kingdom of Axum in late antiquity), whereby Abyssinia relates more to the highlands. For the greater part of the very eventful history the northern and the southern highlands
were divided regions, of which the Abyssinian North, dominated by the Habesha, was more open towards economic and political contacts particularly to the European powers, whereas the southern highland, which was dominated by the kings resp. emperor-gods of Kaffa, remained inaccessible. Only Menelik II. (Menilek and Minilik are also used), who was first King of Shoa and then Emperor of Ethiopia from 1889 to 1913, was able to extend Ethiopia to its present size with the help of European arms. Since 1897 it also includes Kaffa. From now on its area is about 1,1 Mio. km2, but it remains without direct access to the sea.
Just at the time after Menelik had extended his authority to all areas of East Africa which were not colonised by European Powers, the small Austro-Hungarian civil servant Friedrich Julius Bieber started his endeavours to initiate resp. re-start the political and economical relations between his country and Ethiopia. These endeavours were successful, but for Bieber they were chiefly the means to achieve his scientific goal: at the last possible moment to explore and preserve the culture of the empire of Kaffa, which had been conquered in 1897.
Until the middle of the 19th century, in Europe one knew hardly more than just the name of Kaffa. From the late 14th century one finds references to Kaffa in travelling and mission reports, mostly written by missionaries. But differing names make classifying difficult. Although it is shown on maps since the 16th century, only later it is shown in approximately the correct location. From the late 18th century onwards reports are becoming more precise.
Early missionary efforts in Kaffa are said to have taken place during the Middle Ages. But only since the middle of the 19th century authentic reports exist, saying that European travellers and missionaries actually entered Kaffa. The Brothers D’Abbadie stayed in Ethiopia and also in Kaffa from 1837. After their return to France in 1848 they started to publish the results of their explorations. At first these reports were called into question, but they were confirmed
by travellers later on. Exact descriptions of the country and its people are given by Lorenzo Massaja (published in 1895) and by Antonio Cecchi (published in 1888). But in these papers much is described only sparsely and differently, that is later described in detail by Friedrich Bieber. The last European, who travelled to Kaffa before the conquest by the Amhara, is Paul Soleillet who visited from 12th to 23rd December 1882. He is the founder of the French colony of Obock (French Somalia). After the conquest of Kaffa in 1897 and its integration into the Ethiopian Empire two further expeditions travelled there (in 1898 A.K. Bulatowitsch and in 1900 Dr. Oskar Neumann with Carlo, Baron von Erlanger). For a few months friars of the Capuchine Order visited Kaffa. Finally, in the summer of 1905, Alphons Baron von Mylius and Friedrich Julius Bieber reach Kaffa. They can collect abundant material and thereby save the culture of Kaffa from extinction.
After several changes in the administrative setup of Ethiopia, today Kaffa is part of the „Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State“. Bieber would now hardly recognize it, particularly as much of the formerly heavy woods have been cleared.
In this presentation, the geographical designations and names and titles of individuals have been based on the dissertation of Dr. Annemarie Herrmann. But where ever possible, modern names have been used to make it easier for the current reader to follow the story. Whenever a modern designation/name has been used, at the first mentioning the old designation/name is shown in brackets. The travelling routes are shown on the maps which are attached to the travel description so as to make it possible to follow the path of the journeys.
Fig. 1. This map of Ethiopia (source: www.landkarte-online.net) shows the country’s enormous extent. With about 1,1 Mio. km2 it is approximately three times larger than Germany and has today about 88 Mio. inhabitants. Its borders are 5.328 km long and divide the country from Djibouti for 349 km, from Eritrea for 912 km, from Kenya for 861 km, from Somalia for 1.600 km and from Sudan for 1.606 km. Between 1952 and 1993 Ethiopia had access to the sea, which it lost when Eritrea gained its independence. The areas edged in colour show the detailed maps which have been inserted near the descriptions of the journeys in the now following narrative of Bieber’s life.
The Life History of Friedrich Julius Bieber
Childhood and Youth
February 24, 1873
Friedrich Julius Bieber is born in Vienna (District of Wieden) as son of Friedrich and Anna Bieber.
His father Friedrich Bieber is the son of the coffee-brewer Anton Biber (then written without „ie“) in Brünn (Brno), who is descendant of an old coffee-brewer family from Rheinpfalz (Germany), and of Karoline, nee Springer. By profession his father is a bank official.
His mother, Anna Aloisia, nee Heinisch, also hails from Brünn (Brno) and is the daughter of the master-weaver Franz Heinisch and of Anna, nee Braun.
Before the birth of Friedrich the family moves from Karolinengasse 28 to Favoritenstraße 29–31.
March 9, 1873
Friedrich Julius Bieber is baptized in the roman-catholic parish of St. Elisabeth. He and his four brothers and sisters who are born later, grow up at
Fig. 2. Around the turn from the 19th to the 20th century, the Café Biber in Brünn was run by Otto Biber, uncle of Friedrich Julius Bieber.
Fig. 3. The title page of the first book about Africa
belonging to Friedrich Julius Bieber.
various residences. In the course of his life he will change residence 25 times, only at his last home at Auhofstraße 144–144A he will live for a longer period.
Friedrich Bieber is described as a sickly, reserved, quiet and serious child, who is very anxious to read everything he can lay hands on.
December 24, 1881
As Christmas gift Friedrich Bieber receives the book „Quer durch Africa“ (= Across Africa) from his father. In it the journeys of Gerhard Rohlfs and Verney Cameron are described.
In Ethiopia at that time there is heavy fighting between the troops of the young King Menelik II., who will later become Emperor of Abyssinia resp. Ethiopia, and the rebellious warriors of Galla. In Europe the knowledge about Ethiopia is very limited. It is regarded as a strange country of dark-coloured people, who belong to the Christian religion since the fourth century after Christ. They are still using old
Maria-Theresia coins and the mysterious Kaffa is said to be the country of the origin of coffee.
August 24, 1886
The father dies of a sudden illness. For financial reasons Friedrich Bieber will not be able to study and he can only finish secondary school.
February 20, 1887
On this day Bieber’s compulsory schooling ends, after finishing five classes of primary and three classes of secondary school. He starts an apprenticeship in a shoemakers shop.
At around this time the place is established that will later become the capital of Ethiopia. Italy starts to show interest in East Africa.
Fig. 4. „Received from Papa at Christmas 1881. Perhaps as foreboding of my future destiny.“ This dedication was later written into this book by Bieber.
Fig. 5. A photograph of the shoemakers’s workshop, where Friedrich Julius Bieber did his apprenticeship (he is sitting in front, behind the kneeling man). Possibly it is the shop of Robert Knöfel at Mariahilfer Straße 95. Knöfel was the founder of the „Neuen Wiener Schuhmacher-Zeitung“ (New Shoemaker’s Magazine of Vienna) and of the
Shoemaker’s School of Vienna.
The reports about Bieber’s first travels diverge in the sources, but they confirm a tremendous urge to travel. His authentic diaries start only when he is seventeen years of age, but they contain two earlier journeys which he undertook with permission from his mother.
April 21, 1890
Friedrich Bieber starts a journey which takes him via Triest to Fiume (today: Rijeka). The first stage takes him by train to Baden, most of the rest of the following journey he goes alone by foot. He spends the nights in very simple lodgings and depends mostly on the goodwill of peasants and innkeepers. He gathers first travelling experiences and learns to carry on only
Fig. 6. Friedrich Julius Bieber in early years, when he was an apprentice at a shoemaker’s. On the reverse is written, most likely by the young Bieber himself: „For Freedom and Humanity, Friedrich Bieber, Africa Candidate“.
Fig. 7. Friedrich Julius Bieber during his journey through the Balkans, the picture was probably taken in Craiova/Triowa (now Romania).
by himself and with lowest means. Already at this journey he observes various types of landscapes and settlements.
May 17, 1890
Friedrich Bieber begins his return march from Fiume.
November 10, 1890
Friedrich Bieber starts a new journey, probably with the aim of reaching Africa. He travels by train as far as Pressburg (Bratislava) and then he walks down along the River Danube through Hungary, Croatia and Serbia, until he reaches Bulgaria after about a month. He is interested in everything that concerns strange people and customs. It appears that his mother is not informed about the route of the journey. After about three further months, during which he walks along the Danube, he reaches Bukarest and after a further four months the Black Sea. During this journey
The First Journey to Africa
Summer of 1891
Friedrich Bieber has become an expert on Ethiopia and starts to give public lectures. Subjects are the journeys during his youth and Ethiopia, particularly Kaffa.
At this time Menelik II., who has now become Emperor of Ethiopia, undertakes many campaigns of conquest, and it is said Kaffa is also one of his objectives.
After one of his lectures Friedrich Julius Bieber meets the retired Lieutenant Alexander Varges, who is planning an expedition to the Sudan, to free the European captives of the Mahdi, one of which is the Austrian Rudolf Slatin. The other participants shall be the „retired“ k. u. k. Corporal Albert Ragg and Friedrich Julius Bieber. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Church and parts of the press give variously motivated objections and warnings. The plan is assessed as hopeless, too dangerous, politically unwanted or undertaken at the wrong time. Nobody
wants to help with the financing. Finally, Alexander Varges decides to send out a reprint of his book „A Ride through India“ unsolicited to 100.000 addresses (by his own information) in Austria and Germany. Attached is a request for financial support by at least paying for the book. This request also bears the name of Friedrich Bieber. For about 25.000 books money is actually being paid, and this gives a total income of about 29.000 Florin (about 600.000 Euros in today’s currency). But the profit from Austria is brought to nothing by a flop in Germany. The newspapers there condemn the extortionate way of raising money, and the project as a whole. After accounting for the cost of printing, postage, etc., no funds are left over. Nevertheless, there is a new warning by the Foreign Ministry and to forestall a possible prohibition, the expedition is started prematurely. It is not known from where the sudden financing came, but the amount was certainly not large. The total expenses of the expedition are afterwards given as 2.061,75 Florin. Most of this amount had to be used for purchase of equipment (for example: weapons), because at the outward journey in Suez, Varges claimed to have with him in cash only about 160 Florin (about 3.000 Euros).
he assists people with work, particularly farmers, where ever he finds the opportunity, and in this way earns a bit of money for his living. This also explains the long time it takes him to reach his destination. He has now finally reached the Black Sea and thereby realised one of the dreams of his youth. A steamer takes him to Istanbul, where he visits all the famous landmarks. It is not likely – contrary to the narrative by Otto Stradal – that he gets further into Asia than the eastern part of Istanbul.
July 17, 1891
Friedrich Bieber starts his return march to Vienna. Via Adrianopel (today: Edirne) and through the
mountains of Romania he again reaches the valley of the Danube. Details of the further return to Vienna are not known. In total the journey took him nearly one full year.
Back in Vienna he finds work in a bookshop, for which his newly acquired knowledge, particularly the languages he has learned, is of great advantage. Through his work he gains access to literature about Africa and especially about Ethiopia. It is not known what raises his interest in Ethiopia and Kaffa.
June 14, 1892
Bieber and Varges take the train from Vienna to Triest, Ragg has already gone ahead.
June 17, 1892
The sea journey to Alexandria aboard the vessel „Poseidon“ starts in Triest. In Alexandria and Cairo the Austrians receive no official support for their project and the chances for it to go through diminish. The remaining time is spent with sightseeing, the pyramides are visited. Further stations of the journey, that ist very slow to save cost, are Suez and Aden, which is reached with the vessel „Domenico Balduino“. After a few days they leave Aden on board the „Hodeida“ for the port city of Massaua in Eritrea, East Africa.
July 12, 1892
Nearly a month after their departure from Vienna the expedition arrives in Massaua. In the Italian colony Alexander Varges, who still wants to carry out his plans to liberate the captives, meets the Italian Governor Baratieri, who is well informed about these plans and who forbids the crossing of the border in the direction of Khartoum. Varges blames the Austrian Consulate and the Embassy in Cairo for this, and not the official’s actual anxiety about the fate of the expedition and also about the fate of the prisoners in the Sudan. As Varges gets more and more reserved about Bieber, he informs him only partially about his new plan. According to this, a local businessman has hired some people who shall free the hostages with the help of a huge ransom from Austria.
July 27, 1892
With only about 62 Florins left in their pockets, the Austrians now start an expedition which first takes them by train from Massaua to Saati.
July 28, 1892
In a tent camp near Ailet, about a day’s journey from Massaua, Friedrich Bieber starts to write his „Original Diary of my Journey through Eritrea“. In
this he describes the expedition of the eight men strong caravan through the Eritrean highlands to the southern border-post of Adi-Dochala. On difficult roads they have to fight first against great heat and then in the highlands against rain and cold. Bieber concentrates on his observations of the country and its people.
The actual reason for this expedition is difficult to ascertain. Possibly it was planned to divert the authorities from the newly developed plan of liberation, or to actually receive the already freed hostages, or even to depart to Ethiopia without permission.
In any case, the departure from Eritrea is again forbidden. Varges urges to receive written confirmation of this, and he actually gets it.
Varges accepts that they have to turn back at Adi-Dochala, but for Bieber it is a great disappointment, coming when he can already see the land of his dreams. He tries to enter this land of his dreams alone, but this attempt ends in the rapids of the border-river.
August 23, 1892
With its last money the expedition manages to return to Massaua. There Varges is informed about the rejection of his latest plan to free the hostages by the Foreign Ministry. The Italian authorities get to know that the Austrians have pawned their weapons and started deportation proceedings due to lack of funds. But only the next day Varges receives money by telegraphic transfer and their financial situation is being eased.
August 30, 1892
Varges and his companions embark at Massaua and sail to Suez via Suakin and Djidda.
September 20, 1892
After a longish stay in Suez they continue their journey to Vienna. Varges redeems his obligation towards his creditors by documenting the use of the monies received and by writing the book „Feinde ringsum“ (= Enemies all around). In it he describes very subjectively, but also quite openly, the rather unusual undertaking – from the way of raising funds to the inglorious ending. In the statement of account all of the about 25.000 backers, even the smallest donors, are mentioned by name.
Despite the often chaotic and not very successful journey, for Bieber the African continent has not lost any of its fascinations. But certainly the journey has helped him to gain a more realistic appraisal of the conditions on the continent.
November 13, 1892
Friedrich Bieber starts his „Notes for my second journey to Africa“. The object of the journey shall be, amongst others, to gain a clearer picture of Ethiopia, its people and its culture.
1892 is the year in which Emperor Menelik II. names the place where he has been residing for several years – Addis Ababa (also Addis Abeba, Amharic for „the new flower“) and declares it to be the capital of Ethiopia.
December 8, 1893
Friedrich Bieber is admitted as „Diurnist“ (administrative civil servant) into the Statistical Service of the Ministry of Trade. It is not quite known what brought about this step, but it is possible that he felt of not only having a better chance of improving his social status in the civil service, but also to
Fig. 8. The route of the expedition in Eritrea, in both directions, into the highlands of Eritrea to the Ethiopian border-station of Adi-Dochala and to the border river Mereb (also: Gash); as plotted by Dr. Annemarie Herrmann.
better further his ambitions for Africa. For a person of his background it was not possible to enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the diplomatic service, therefore only the Ministry of Trade remained open for a purposeful career. In any case, he was able to improve his knowledge of the Monarchy’s trade relations.
Obviously there is still a connection to his old trade, because he writes contributions to the „Neue Wiener Schuhmacher-Zeitung“ which had been founded by his previous master Robert Knöfel. Examples are: „Mahmuda, der Flickschuster“ and „Wie es Mahmuda meint!“ In these articles he writes about his impressions during his stay in the Balkans and explains the trading conditions in the bazaars.
March 1, 1896
The Italian invasion forces suffer a crushing defeat in the battle of Adua. The victorious Ras Makonnen (Ras = prince) is a cousin of Emperor Menelik II. and father of Ras Tafari, who will later become Emperor Haile Selassie I.
March 5, 1896
Bieber applies for appointment as accounting officer in the Trade Statistical Services.
July 1, 1896
Bieber’s application is granted and he is employed as junior accountant in the Trade Statistical Service, with an annual income of 400 Florin (about 8.000 Euros). In his personal file, reference is made to his varied linguistic knowledge, but without giving any details.
December 12, 1896
Friedrich Bieber is appointed as Accounting Assistant, which takes him into the eleventh grade of the active civil servants. His annual salary now is 600 Florin, plus 300 Florin activity allowance. Apart from extraordinary advancements, he can expect „bi-annual jumps“ in his salary.
Assisted by its superior armament, which includes the weapons and cannons taken in the battle of Adua, the army of Menelik led by Ras Wolde Giorgis enters Kaffa and starts a cruel war of conquest with very unequal means.
September 11, 1897
The hiding place of Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho is discovered and he is taken prisoner. But according to the prophesy of Minjee Taatoo (Mindscho), the first ruler of Kaffa, the empire remains free and mighty, as long as the „Shaude“ (Schaudi) the golden feather-crown of the Emperor-Gods of Kaffa, remains in the country. With this precious treasure, which also included the green, gold-embroidered emperor’s coat and the holy golden sword, the appointed keeper of the empire’s gems, Gabadi-Rascho Wuagani, moved from place to place day and night. He was accompanied by only a few warriors, and occasionally had to bury his treasures. Therefore the Kafecho (Kaffitscho) still believed in their freedom and continued the fight. Only after several months
Fig. 9. A photograph of Bieber during his time as
Accountant. It was taken from an identity card of the
Menelik’s people capture the crown and the Kafecho submit themselves to the superior forces of the Ethiopians.
November 6, 1897
On the occasion of the victory celebrations in Addis Ababa the abdication and humiliation of Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho takes place. Afterwards he is taken to
the mountain fortress Ankober in Schoa. His captivity will last to the end of the rule of Menelik II.
Fig. 10. Entry of Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho of Kaffa into Addis Ababa. The Emperor (at extreme right) is chained by the neck with a five feet long silver chain to a servant riding in front of him.
Fig. 11. Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho of Kaffa as prisoner of war of Emperor Menelik, during his subjugation in Addis Ababa. With a silver chain he is chained to his guardian Araru (at left). In the middle sits Ras Wolde Giorgis.
Fig. 12. The holy crown of Kaffa with the golden phallus.
For the last time resolute Kafecho take possession of the Emperor’s Crown and other insignia. This would make it possible for them to re-establish the Empire of Kaffa. But the treasure is being retaken by Amharas and now Menelik II. presents it to his Minister of State Alfred Ilg who hails from Switzerland. This show of gratitude for faithful services is joined to the demand that for all future this Crown shall safely remain in the safe of a European bank. The Crown is deposited in the safe of the Bank of Zurich.
Only scanty news reach Europe about Menelik’s campaign of conquest against Kaffa. The culture is in danger of perishing, before Friedrich Bieber can visit Kaffa.
The mother of Friedrich Bieber passes away.
April 24, 1900
Friedrich Bieber leaves the Roman-Catholic Church and joins the Protestant Church H.B. (Calvinist). The reason for this change in his religious confession is
not known. At this time he resides at Goldeggasse 30, Vienna IV.
March 6, 1901
Friedrich Bieber marries Berta Theresia Pilik, born 27th August 1873. As address of residence is given Bachergasse 36, Vienna V.
31st December, 1901
Their first son Friedrich is born.
January 1, 1902
Friedrich Bieber is appointed Rechnungs-Official (accounting official) in the ranks of the administrative officers of the Statistical Service in the Ministry of Trade. He is ranged in the tenth salary scale of the active civil servants with an annual salary of 2.200 Florin and an annual activity allowance of 800 Florin.
Bieber takes part in the census of industrial and agricultural enterprises, which is starting this year. Later he participates in the supervision and evaluation of this census in selected districts of Lower Austria.
The Second Journey to Africa
January 1, 1904
Friedrich Bieber is given leave of absence for a duration of six months until the 30th June, 1904, to carry out a journey to Ethiopia. This is the result of long endeavours by Friedrich Bieber to raise interest in Ethiopia, to bring about a connection between Ethiopia and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and to improve trade between the two states for mutual benefit. Starting in 1901 he wrote articles in relevant publications such as „Mittheilungen der K.K. Geographischen Gesellschaft“ or „Deutsche
Rundschau für Geographie und Geschichte“, and held lectures, for example at the „Österreichisch-Ungarische Colonialgesellschaft“ or the Association of Industrialists at various political districts in Lower Austria, such as Baden, Mödling, Neunkirchen, Wiener Neustadt and its environs.
Ethiopia had become a great power on the African continent and was greatly courted by the European Powers because of its many resources. Biebers enthusiasm is finally successful and with the support of official and private interests a trading enterprise
is founded which is led by the import- and export-company of the Hungarian Arnold Szél. About seventy other companies are also involved. For a „fact finding mission“ they receive letters of recommendation not only from Austrian authorities, but also letters to Menelik II., Ras Makonnen and others from the Ethiopian Minister of State Alfred Ilg, who at this time is vacationing at Zurich. On the request of Szél, Bieber is given six months leave of absence to enable him to support the director of the trading company, Leopold Morgenstern, during his journey to Ethiopia.
Bieber has continuously improved his knowledge about Ethiopia. From books he has taught himself the Amharic language. At first his knowledge of Amharic is of course rather limited, but during his stays in Ethiopia he improves it considerably.
January 26, 1904
Friedrich Bieber departs from Vienna and embarks two days later in Triest.
February 1, 1904
In Alexandria Friedrich Bieber meets Leopold Morgenstern, who had gone ahead. The expedition carries along many samples, gifts and other articles which are contained in 36 wooden crates and which cause huge bureaucratic work at Customs. In Cairo the sights of interest are visited and a trip to the pyramides is made. The equipment is being completed. Then the journey is continued to Port Said.
Fig. 13. The route of the second journey to Africa, from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, as drawn by Dr. Annemarie Herrmann.
On the return trip, the road along the Harar-Mountains (Ahmar Mountains) is being used.
Fig. 14. The Lion Gate at Harar.
February 11, 1904
On board the vessel „Trieste“ they continue through the Suez Channel to Aden.
February 18, 1904
The „Trieste“ arrives at Aden and the same day the Austrians can continue their journey to Djibouti on board the vessel „Binger“. In Djibouti they have to make a number of visits and to complete a lot of work.
February 24, 1904
An adventurous trip by train takes them to Direh Dawa (Direh Daua), which at this time is the end of
the rail line planned from Djibouti to Addis Ababa. This rail connection, which was initiated by the Swiss Alfred Ilg and the French Léon Chefneux in 1894, will be completed only in 1917. His work there has brought Alfred Ilg to the Court of Menelik.
Repeatedly they meet traders and businessmen, who give them much information about Ethiopia. In Direh Dawa Bieber and Morgenstern meet Alfred Ilg for the first time, and they are very impressed by him.
March 5, 1904
Putting together the caravan is very time consuming, but they are helped by a local representative of Menelik. Finally the Austrians can start their journey by caravan to Addis Ababa. Because of the danger
Fig. 15. Minister of State Alfred Ilg with his wife Fanny and their four children.
With his first wife, an Ethiopian, he had also four children.
of attacks in the region of the Danakil, they are accompanied by some soldiers. The route leads through difficult terrain over mountains and across rivers. After heavy rains the underground gets very soggy and the rivers are torrential. Moreover, the plague of mosquitoes makes everything even more difficult. Because of the terrible heat, the caravan starts every day before sunrise and marches until midday, when a place to camp is found. Despite the heavy toil, Bieber still retains an eye for the beauties of the country-side.
After a visit to Harar the route leads through dry terrain and the savannahs of the Asebot Plain to the Awash River and to the highland of Shoa. They ride through the hill-ranges up to safe areas, inhabited by Amharas. There they pay off the camel-drivers and hire Galla for the next part of the journey, to Addis Ababa.
March 29, 1904
The caravan arrives in Addis Ababa, a green spot in the yellow grassfields. The capital of Ethiopia with about 40.000 inhabitants consists of the Imperial Residence (Gibi) with several buildings, thousands of round huts and a few stone houses, with many tents
on the outskirts. It is traversed by many new and straight roads. Bieber and Morgenstern put up at the „Hotel Terras“.
March 31, 1904
The day after their arrival Bieber and Morgenstern pay a visit to the Minister of State Alfred Ilg in his house. Nine days later, after Bieber has gotten over a not better described „altitude sickness“, the official visit to Ilg takes place. Ilg promises to support the wishes of the expedition.
April 12, 1904
The Austrians are received in audience by Menelik II., the Emperor of Ethiopia (Negus Negesti, also Negusa Negest = King of Kings), from the ruling tribe of the Amharas. Further names of Menelik II. are „The victorious Lion of the Tribe of Juda“, „The Lord’s Chosen“ and some also call him „The Black Napoleon“.
April 17, 1904
The Austrians are invited to take part at a Geber (opulent meal for thousands of subjects) at the Gibi. „Today I saw the old Juda and Byzancium, two
Fig. 16. Emperor Menelik with his retinue.
thousand years ago, a feast that reminded one of Persian magnitude“ writes Bieber in his diary. 30.000 people are invited to take part in the meal, and 300 oxen are slaughtered. Noble families, dignitaries, Europeans and all warriors are guests of Menelik II.
During the following days, Menelik II. repeatedly inspects the gifts from the Austrians and enquires about their ideas of a branch establishment. It is of advantage that Friedrich Bieber can converse with the Emperor in the Amharic language.
An official mourning period due to the death of one of the Emperor’s granddaughters delays the talks. Alfred Ilg continuously endeavours to speed up the affairs of the Austrians at Court, also to enable Friedrich Bieber to depart from Addis Ababa soon. As he suffers from repeated bouts of illness coupled with attacks of fever, there is need to worry about his health. Altogether, at this stay, Friedrich Bieber learns much about the cultural and economical facts and possibilities of the country and also about the
attractions of the Ethiopian Church. The Ethiopian Christendom is one of the oldest and has developed in its own way through the centuries. Many elements of the Old Testament, but also Oriental and Egyptian influences, continue to live in it. The mixture of various ethnic groups, which Friedrich Bieber can observe here, confirm the designation of Ethiopia as an „Open-air Museum of Ethnology“.
May 19, 1904
Ilg hands over to Bieber a list of orders from the Emperor, with a total value of 17.000 Francs.
May 23, 1904
In a new audience with the Emperor, the Austrians are assured that a Letter of Establishment will be issued. Afterwards, Friedrich Bieber also pays a visit to Ras Wolde Giorgis in his richly decorated home. It is expected that he will be appointed Vice King of Kaffa soon.
Fig. 17. This photograph most likely shows an excursion near Addis Ababa. In the middle of the picture, one can see
Friedrich Julius Bieber wearing a sun-helmet. On the right of him are most likely Mr. and Mrs. Ilg.
May 28, 1904
Ilg hands over to Morgenstern the Letter of Establishment, which permits Arnold Szél the establishment of branches and to trade within Ethiopia. Both Bieber and Morgenstern receive the insignia of the Order of the Star of the Kingdom of Ethiopia, 3rd Class.
May 31, 1904
Bieber receives a letter signed by Minister of State Alfred Ilg, for the Ministry of Trade, which expresses formally the esteem of Menelik II. for this mission. The preparations for the departure and the farewell visits can begin. The trader Hadschi Ahmed hands over an order valued at 100.000 Francs.
June 6, 1904
To Bieber’s relieve the day of departure has come and he is now again on the way back to his wife and child.
Fig. 18. The Order of the Star of Ethiopia, 3rd Class. The translation of the document from Amharic reads:
„I, the Victorious Lion of the Tribe of Juda, MENELIK II., by God’s Grace King of Kings of Ethiopia, to all, who read this document, Greetings. By the example of the great monarchs, who use to decorate their warriors, friends and servants because of their cleverness, intelligence, power and fitness, WE too herewith bestow on MR. FRIEDRICH BIEBER, Austrian subject, our STAR OF THE KINGDOM OF ETHIOPIA 3rd (third) CLASS, and allow him to wear this on his breast. Issued at Addis Ababa on 19. Go.bot 1896 (28th May, 1904).
June 27, 1904
The caravan crosses the Harar-Mountains (Ahmar Mountains) and arrives at Harar, where visits to dignitaries and foreigners, meetings and commercial work take up about two weeks.
July 13, 1904
At 1.00 p.m. the Austrians cross the Ethiopian border between Direh Dawa and Djibouti by train. Terrible heat and new fever attacks of Bieber delay the work in Djibouti.
July 20, 1904
Permission to extend the official leave of Friedrich Bieber arrives in Djibouti.
August 4, 1904
The sea journey with the „Binger“ to Aden and from there with the „Vindobona“ via Port Said to Triest starts. From Triest they travel to Vienna by train. Bieber can be satisfied with the results of this journey: a Letter of Establishment for Szél, positive signals for a Trade Agreement, in addition to the decorations. Bieber also remains positive in regard to the possibilities of trade potentials.
September 25, 1904
In a letter to Alfred Ilg, the Minister of Trade expresses his appreciation for the letter received from him, points out the importance of trade relations, and expresses his gratitude for the kind treatment of the mission.
The Third Journey to Africa
December 1, 1904
On the basis of a draft for a Treaty of Trade and Friendship between Austria-Hungary and Ethiopia by Friedrich Julius Bieber, Minister-President Körber agrees to the establishment of a Consular Representation and a Mission.
At this time the Bieber Family moves to Auhofstraße 144–144A in Ober St. Veit, Vienna-Hietzing (13th District).
December 4, 1904
Emperor Franz Joseph approves of sending a Special Mission to Ethiopia. Ludwig Ritter von Höhnel is appointed as leader of the Mission. Höhnel (who was previously aide-de-camp of Franz Joseph) is commander of the cruiser „Panther“, on which most of the delegation to Ethiopia will travel. The final list of participants includes Vice Consul Friedrich Götz, Lieutenant-at-sea Edler von Huber, Cadet-at-sea first class Prince Hohenlohe, Count Ladislaus Sechényi
and Count Erwin Schönborn-Buchheim. Baron von Mylius, who wants to establish plantations and to do trade in Ethiopia, joins the Mission. Friedrich Bieber, who travels along as assistant of Mylius, receives official leave of six months duration and shall assist the Mission as interpreter. The machinist Franz Jina is added to the Mission to repair the coin-minting machine supplied earlier to Addis Ababa by the company „Vulkan“.
January 2, 1905
Again Friedrich Bieber has to say goodbye to his family. The journey that is starting now will become the most important of all his enterprises, both as far as the exploration of Ethiopia is concerned, but also concerning his efforts to intensify the trade relations between Austria-Hungary and Ethiopia. He again sets off to Triest by train. There, together with Mylius, he boards the „Imperator“ to Port Said.
January 9, 1905
Bieber and Mylius reach Suez and spend the next days in Cairo.
January 20, 1905
After a sea journey of four days they arrive in Djibouti, where they make contact with various officials, such as the French Governor. The cooperation between Bieber and Mylius appears to work well, because they have similar interests.
January 31, 1905
Together with Höhnel the other participants of the Mission arrive in Djibouti aboard the „Panther“. The French administration and the Ethiopian representation receive the Mission in a very friendly way and are very helpful. Only the cooperation with the company of Szél and its branch in Djibouti does not work well.
February 4, 1905
In the harbour of Djibouti the last pieces of the Mission’s equipment are loaded from the ship into the freight waggons of the special train, which will take them to Direh Dawa, a distance of 308 kilometres.
February 6, 1905
The Mission departs to Harar, where they are received by the Governor and lodged in his palace. Ras Makonnen receives the Order of the Iron Cross awarded to him by Franz Joseph, and other gifts. During the stay other visits in the region are made.
February 10, 1905
Accompanied by a small escort and other gentlemen, including one functionary who has to arrange the daily Dergo (banquet), the Mission leaves Harar. The caravan consists of 80–100 men, 37 saddle horses,
Fig. 19. War dance of the Danakil. In the back is the camp of the Mission.
183 mules to carry the loads and 5 Tyrolean mules. Part of the Mission travells directly from Direh Dawa with the heavy load, which includes a mountain canon as a gift for Menelik II. Bieber is disappointed that his experience is not made use of when the caravan is put together. In his view the Austrians are greatly duped by the local merchants. But also in political and diplomatic matters much ignorance is taking place. Bieber is given the duty of distributing the Dergo.
February 15, 1905
A strike by the Negadi (owners of the mules) makes it necessary to stop over in a small village. There they meet Lij (also Lidsh = Prince) Tafari, the thirteen year old son of Ras Makonnen. He will later become Emperor Haile Selassie and decide the fate of the country. In 1954 he will also visit Austria. The caravan follows the route which Bieber took the previous year on his return from Addis Ababa. In total the journey from Harar to Addis Ababa takes four weeks.
March 9, 1905
Before entering the capital Addis Ababa the caravan pitches camp. Minister of State Ilg arrives at the camp to welcome the Mission. Together they organise their
ceremonial entry into Addis Ababa.
March 11, 1905
The k. u. k. Mission is having a great reception in Addis Ababa. It is accompanied by Ilg and before entering the city received by Ras Wolde Giorgis. Watched by thousands of onlookers and passing high aristocrats and many warriors in war decorations, the Austrians ride through the capital to the Imperial Gibi. There the Mission is received by Menelik and his retinue. In the ceremonial hall Minister of State Alfred Ilg presents members of the Mission to the Emperor. Then Ilg translates Höhnel’s speech. Lieutenant-at-sea Huber presents the personal letter from Emperor Franz Joseph in which he expresses his wish for closer relations between the two countries. Decorations are bestowed on Emperor Menelik (Grand Cross of the Order of the Holy Stephanus), Ras Makonnen (Order of the Iron Cross, 1st class – already handed over in Harar) and Alfred Ilg (Grand Cross of the Order of Franz-Joseph).
„The work of many years has been rewarded in these few hours, today’s happenings are exclusively my making, my ideas have laid the foundations ...“ writes Bieber proudly in his dairy. Similarly, he repeatedly points to his initiatorship.
Fig. 20. Entry of the Austrian Delegation to Addis Ababa.
Fig. 21. Bieber’s house in Addis Ababa.
Fig. 22. Oromo and Kafecho wearing warrior’s outfit in front of Bieber’s residence in Addis Ababa.
The Austrians are lodged at the summer palace of Ras Wolde Giorgis. During the following days they meet several European und Ethiopian dignitaries,
and Bieber learns a lot from them about the situation in the country.
Fig. 23. War games in front of Bieber’s residence in Addis Ababa.
Fig. 24. Friedrich Bieber (in the middle, with sun-helmet) with Ethiopian nobles.
Fig. 25. View from the Entoto (altitude about 3.000 meters) to Addis Ababa.
March 13, 1905
Höhnel is received by Menelik in a private audience and hands over his Letters of Credence and the draft of the Treaty. Already the next day the ceremonial handing over of the decoration and the gifts to Menelik takes place: one mountain cannon, 25 Mannlicher rifles, 12 silver drinking-cups, 12 bales each of white, red and black silk, 12 boxes with each 12 bottles of old Tokayer wine, two Viennese carpets and a portrait of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The draft of the Treaty is objected to in three points and has to be redrafted. As Höhnel has no authority to negotiate, the matter has to be sent to Vienna for clearance. This delays the stay of the Mission in Addis Ababa. As a present for Emperor Franz Joseph, Höhnel receives the Grand Cross of the Star of Ethiopia, a golden shield, a warrior’s coat and lances. The members of the Mission are invited to a Geber, at which the notables of the country are present.
During a visit to Ras Wolde Giorgis, Höhnel explains about the wish of Mylius and Bieber to travel to Kaffa. This makes the Ras very happy.
Fig. 26. The Trade Mission in Addis Ababa in 1905,
Höhnel sits on the right.
March 21, 1905
The Treaty of Trade and Friendship is signed solemnly and two days later the Delegation departs from Addis Ababa.
Höhnel will report very positively about Bieber’s interest, diligence and experience. The assessments of the delegates concerning the importance of Ethiopia and the prospects of trade relations are different. The Treaty will come into force only in 1910, after all formal requirements have been met and the opening of a Honorary Consulate in Addis Ababa will be concluded only in 1912. At this point it should be noted that Bieber’s ideas of the economic opening of Ethiopia usually differ from those of the businessmen. He has primarily the setting up of a group of Austrian settlers in Southern Ethiopia in mind, which will with the help of the local population develop the area, protect the businessmen involved and give assistance for profitable businesses.
Mylius and Bieber remain in Addis Ababa to prepare for their journey to Kaffa. But they can take up this matter only after the departure of the Mission.
Bieber and Mylius present gifts to Menelik and without problems receive permission to travel to Kaffa.
April 8, 1905
The Austrians receive the Emperor’s permission to travel in writing. The approved route leads through „Soddo, Amaja, Nonno, Limmu (Innarea), Sadetscha (Gomma) and Jimma to Kaffa, then through Konta and Kullo (Da’uro) and finally through Jimma, Sindschero and Gurague back to Addis Ababa“. Permission is granted to hunt all game, but only one elephant. Only now Bieber informs his wife of his new travelling plans.
Fig. 27. Emperor Menelik and his royal Court. On the extreme right in white riding breeches stands Baron von Mylius.
Fig. 28. The route of the expedition to Kaffa by Bieber and Mylius, as drawn by Dr. Annemarie Herrmann.
Fig. 29. Departure of Bieber’s expedition to Kaffa.
April 16, 1905
Ras Wolde Giorgis provides an attendant to accompany them. When they take leave of him, he asks them to take as many photographs as possible and to keep him informed regularly about the progress of the journey. The expedition will also be assisted by the provision of gifts and exemption from customs duties at provincial borders.
The description of the journey takes great space in the books of Otto Bieber and Otto Stradal, but sometimes differs from the entries in Bieber’s diaries. Therefore the narration now follows the dissertation of Dr. Annemarie Herrmann. Occasionally references are made to the descriptions by Otto Bieber and Stradal. It appears that Stradal in particular has taken a lot of poetic freedom so as to create an exciting story. It is possible, however, that information by word of mouth and by letter has been used, which exceeds the entries in the diaries.
April 19, 1905
The caravan, which consists of 40 men, 3 horses, 6 riding mules and 24 pack animals departs for Kaffa.Menelik’s letter of safe conduct ensures that they always receive sufficient supplies and that many
Fig. 30. The Dergo provided by the local population is the basis for supplying the caravan with daily needs
and consists of provisions, animal fodder, firewood, etc.
times there are festive receptions at villages, princely courts and strongholds The first weeks resemble just a ride through paradise. Occasionally the caravan can use roads and bridges, which makes travelling much easier. In the villages the market-places are visited, and there Bieber can study the organisation of trade in the region.
April 23, 1905
On this day the Trachyt-Monoliths of Medreakapt are visited (Bieber believes that the drawings on the front of these depict burial places or memorials of war and conquest).
May 1, 1905
The caravan reaches the province of Nonno. On the Dabat-Mountain Bieber can visit old ruins.
May 5, 1905
With the crossing of the Gibe the caravan reaches the land of Limmu. There the springs of the Fillaha are visited (they are said to have special healing powers for Syphilis, Lepra and skin diseases).
Fig. 31. Handing over of another Dergo. Friedrich Julius Bieber (seated at the left) keeps detailed lists of all items received.
Fig. 32. Crossing of the Gibe on a bridge made of tree logs.
May 9, 1905
With the crossing of the Besho River the province of Ennarea (formerly Inarja) is reached.
May 12, 1905
Via Saka, the old capital of Ennarea, and after again crossing the Gibe, the caravan arrives at Kossa. In the vicinity Grasmatsch Benti takes Mylius and Bieber on a hunt for elephants.
Fig. 33. A hunting camp. On the left stands Friedrich Julius Bieber, further to the right Baron von Mylius.
Fig. 34. Stalking elephants. After a photograph taken by Baron von Mylius.
May 21, 1905
The hunt is successful and Mylius kills one elephant. Stradal describes that during this hunt which takes place on the threshold to Kaffa, Bieber can for the first time find traces of Old-Egyptian customs. These include dancing in front of the killed elephant, neck decorations worn by the beaters and the hair- and beard-fashions of the inhabitants. His conviction increases that they are walking on the same tracks used many centuries ago by people, who were withdrawing from the Nile Valley into the interior of East Africa.
Fig. 35. Baron Mylius standing on the killed elephant.
May 27, 1905
With the crossing of the Awayitu-River Jimma is reached.
May 29, 1905
The caravan arrives at Dschirren (today: Jimma) , the capital of Jimma. There they pay several visits to the
The gate into Jimma (Dschirren).
Negus (= king) of this province. It appears to Bieber that compared to his palace the Gibi of the Emperor in Addis Abeba is not very impressive.
Fig. 37. King Abba Djiffar of Jimma with his retinue From the left comes Friedrich Julius Bieber into the picture.
On the right with hat is probably Senigoff.
Fig. 38. King Abba Djiffar with his favourite wife Gemme Limmiti and Baron Mylius during the visit in 1905.
June 3, 1905
The journey continues.
June 5, 1905
Bieber and Mylius arrive at a waterfall of the Ghibie Jimma, the main river of the province. The waterfall is 9 metres high and 40 metres wide, and in old times was used to throw down those condemned to death, after tying a heavy stone on their back. The explorers give this waterfall the name „Du-Mont-Fall“, after the mother of Mylius.
June 7, 1905
The explorers reach the border of Kaffa. A bridge leads across the twelve metre wide border-river Gojeb that has very heavy currents. They pass through the old
border-gate, then over the old border-trench and finally through the new Kaffa-Kella (Kella = Gate), at which duty is collected. At 11.18 a.m. Bieber enters Kaffa, the land of his dreams.
He starts to collect everything he can find, about this land, its people and its history. He wants to save Kaffa for science, and wishes to be called together with D’Abbadie, Massaja, Soleillet and Neumann as researcher of what has been left of the originality of its people and the magnificence of its rulers. To begin with, Bieber is impressed by the timid behaviour of the Kafecho towards strangers.
The part of Kaffa they travel trough now is relatively deserted and not much cultivated. The caravan has to fight against heat and high humidity, and repeatedly formerly healthy and strong mules perish suddenly.
Fig. 39. The wooden bridge across the border-river Gojeb.
Fig. 40. Map of Kaffa, Konta and Kullo (Da’uro)with the route of the expedition of Bieber and Mylius.
June 13, 1905
The caravan reaches the Kafecho-town Bonga. All structures of the old Empire (the palace, the court, etc.) have been destroyed, only the hedges can still be recognised. Afterwards the road to Andracha, the previous capital of Kaffa, leads through country that is more intensively used for agriculture. Near the market-place of Andracha the Austrians put up their camp for the next few days. Only a few palisades and a hut are left of the defeated emperor’s palace.
June 15, 1905
On this day Bieber and Mylius view the surroundings of the town and visit one new and one old Kaffa-Church, one circular building dedicated to the Eqqo-Cult and the Dincha-Gorge with the rapid Jeri Asha. They also visit a church which has ben built under the supervision of Bishop Massaia, the houses of the missionaries who were driven away in 1903 and the swimming pool of the former Emperor’s family. Bieber’s ethnographical work during his stay in
Andracha is very successful.
Fig. 41. The church of Shapa Mariam
on the Shapa Mountain with the grave of Pater Coccino.
In the first volume of his main work on Kaffa he will write:
Not much is left of the old greatness of Kaffa. Before its conquest the whole territory of Kaffa, with its emperor’s palaces, with hundred-thousand farm-steads surrounded by woods, with wide valleys with
flourishing towns, inhabited by diligent artisans and active traders, it was a huge garden-area, which was protected by a border-trench and had only a few gates for access, and it was inhabited by one million people. After the eight months long fight of the Kafecho for freedom and independence for their country, Kaffa had hardly more than 500.000 inhabitants and of its towns only burnt-out ruins remained which had been retaken by the surrounding jungle.
Only at the market-place, next to where the old emperor’s palace was located, there are still lively goings-on. In the narrow market-ways and in front of the low market-hall, loudly bargaining men and babbling women hasten around in great confusion. Kafechos in their unusual costumes, timid Manjos in leathern loin clothes, Negroes, Sehe and Najo, merry Ometo, serious Oromo, traders from far-away Tigray, proud and imperious Amharas, a money-thirsty Hindu, all can be seen. And amidst them is the blond-bearded stranger from the North-land, who looks and looks and looks. And in this from the world secluded place, where the bustle of the people reminds of times long past, he knows that he has found his goal.
Bieber has to put together information from many different conversations. The former Russian Second Lieutenant Eugen Wsewolowitsch Senigoff, who since 1899 lives from time to time as Wolde Madin and vassal of Ras Wolde Giorgis in Kaffa und Dauro, is very helpful. Helpers from Kaffa are Amaro Matteosh, a scholar of the roman-catholic school in Harar, the Gonga Maleko in Andracha, the body-guard Schahibscho from Bonga, the empire-official Schagitto and old men brought to the camp by Matteosh. When the old men realise that this white man, whom they call Abba Jiru (Father Advance) and Abba Kitaba (Father of the Book), wants to hear and
to write down the history of their country and of their kings, they start to talk. On the conquest of the empire of Kaffa much can be told by the Amhara Ato Roba or Wolde Mariam, who has taken part in the Kaffa-Ethiopian war of the year 1897.
It is clear that Bieber cannot enquire about all and can enter only a few houses. Besides, he cannot record anything about the Manjo or Wuato who are the aborigines of the highland. The Kafecho consider them as „unclean“ and he has to avoid them, so as not to be avoided by the Kafecho himself. Bieber therefore considers his records as „patch-work“ and feels that there is still much to be done in Kaffa.
Fig. 42. A picture with the description „Matteosh“ on the reverse.
Fig. 43. The sanctuary of God Eqqo in Andracha.
The original description on the photo states: „Eqqo-Tempel, Gibi, Anderatscha“.
Fig. 44. Dance of priests in Kaffa.
the Shosha Hills. After the burial of his predecessor, the emperor was crowned at Shaada, his royal name he received in Andracha. Bieber writes in his diary:
„I have been collecting diligently all that I was able to find, now I know how the Kaffitscho lived, loved and died, how he went into battle and how the emperor kept Court.“
June 21, 1905
Travelling through the former town of Buuna, near which the graves of the emperors’ mothers are located, and over the Durra Mountains, Bieber and Mylius reach Shaada, the first and oldest town in Kaffa. The next day they visit the emperors’ graves on
Fig. 45. The old emperor’s road from Shaada to the Shosha Mountains.
In the middle of the picture one can see Friedrich Julius Bieber on horse-back.
Fig. 46. The expedition in Kaffa. Seated in the middle from left: unknown, Mylius, Bieber, probably Senigoff.
On one of the next days the caravan reaches the new capital Sharada, which was founded about a year ago. The following day they are received by Asatsh Gabre in the name of Ras Wolde Giorgis, and in the presence of all dignitaries. Later they are invited to a
Fig. 47. The servants of the expedition to Kaffa.
Fig. 48. A camp in Kaffa.
Geber in the house of the Asatsh. Bieber is surprised at the strong etiquette prevailing here: „Etiquette is all. When the bread is brought, everyone gets up to praise God, who gives the bread; ...“
The rainy season has just started. Heavy fog impairs the view and the ground is soft due to the heavy rains. This makes it difficult to make headway. Many more prominent personalities are visited in Sharada and Bieber succeeds in learning still more about Kaffa. They also regularly treat sick persons and people with neglected wounds. The Kafecho describes Bieber thus: „These faces remind one incredibly of pictures from pharaonic times! They fortify my opinion that the core of Kaffa’s population is Hamitic, a remnant of the lost Gonga people who were related to the Egyptians!“
June 28, 1905
Bieber writes in his diary: „It is time that we turn back. Our collections grown, but our supplies dwindle.“
Stradal writes fictitiously: „On a bamboo bridge crossing the River Woscho, Bieber says goodbye to the old narrator and also to Kaffa. On this spot the prisoner Gaaki Sharecho drew his emperor’s ring from his finger and threw it into the river with the following words: „The Empire of Kaffa has come to an end, there will never again exist an Emperor-God. Therefore this ring of the Emperor-Gods shall forever remain in the depths of the river!“
Fig. 49. Asatsh Gabre with retinue in Sharada. On the left one can see Baron Mylius.
July 2, 1905
The return journey starts. First they cross the formerly rich, but now nearly uninhabited province of Addia. On the way they meet a caravan of serfs, who transport material for the building of a Gibi to Sharada. The road leads further to the East, the way crosses deep valleys and steep hillsides and also rivers, which they name occasionally, for example after Bieber’s wife „River Berta“.
July 7, 1905
The expedition leaves Kaffa. The route leads further through the provinces of Konta and Kullo (Da’uro) and allows them to collect more information about new areas which have never been explored before. A lake located in an incredibly beautiful scenery is named „Lake Mylius“, another one is named „Lake Bieber“.
July 12, 1905
With the crossing of the Shashali the province of Kullo is reached.
July 13, 1905
The Austrians rest on a hill of the Dshada Mountains in the province Kullo. When clouds and fog rise in the evening, there is a view of all of Kaffa, Konta and Kullo. „To have seen this, the far-away mountains and valleys, will forever remain one of my most beautiful experiences.“ writes Bieber in his diary.
July 15, 1905
Continuing their journey, they arrive in an area where the Russian Senigoff, who accompanied them in Kaffa, owns land. He lives there completely as an Amhara and has 70 serfs, from who he regularly receives income in cash and kind. He is a good example how the conquered people are being exploited by the rulers, since the better armed Amharas entered Kullo in 1889.
When they visit the surroundings they also see the old royal town of Tussi.
July 17, 1905
On this day the return trip to the North begins. The plan, to return to Addis Ababa through Dshindshero and Gurague has to be dropped because of the shortage of supplies and because the Omo River carries very high water.
At a campsite above the gorge of the Gojeb River at an elevation of 1.430 metres, Bieber records a temperature of 60 degree C at noon and of 38 degree C in the evening.
July 21, 1905
With the crossing of the Gojeb they again reach the province of Jimma.
July 24, 1905
In Dschirren (Jimma) which is their last great stop before Addis Ababa, they remain several days. King Abba Djiffar again supplies them well with all necessities and gives them many gifts. They use their stay to make visits, to recover from the strains
of the journey and the damp and cold due to the continuous rain, and to wait for money which they have requested from Addis Ababa.
August 4, 1905
After taking leave from their companions, such as Senigoff, they depart from Jimma with 12 mules and take a northeasterly direction. The journey leads through the province of Nono to Addis Ababa.
August 12, 1905
The expedition reaches Addis Ababa, where Bieber remains until September 2. They have to write reports, make visits, sort out the material collected and prepare for the return journey to Europe.
August 16, 1905
The Austrians are received by Menelik, who enquires in detail about the course of the expedition.
August 31, 1905
Farewell visits are paid to Menelik and Ilg. Ilg complains that Menelik is showing no gratitude for his many years of hard work. Bieber had heard the same about the Austrian Jina, who had come to repair the coin-minting machine. Jina felt his work was not well appreciated and that the two elephant tusks he received as remuneration were not enough. Ilg expresses his special wish for Friedrich Bieber to return as emissary to deliver the Trade Treaty.
September 3, 1905
Bieber’s caravan, which consists of 12 mules, several porters and assistants, departs from Addis Ababa. Mylius remains in Addis Ababa to establish the „Austrian Galla-Country Company“ which he is said to have founded with Bieber. Bieber shall represent this company in Vienna, but later on it is not mentioned by him any more.
September 16, 1905
The caravan reaches Direh Dawa on the same route taken the previous year on the outward journey.
September 18, 1905
Accompanied by a few Europeans, Bieber travels to Djibouti by train.
September 25, 1905
Bieber departs the port of Djibouti on board the „Vindobona“. Clearing work in the channel of Suez forces Bieber to go via Cairo to Alexandria by land.
October 7, 1905
The steamer „Habsburg“ departs from Alexandria.
The next months and years in Vienna are used to prepare the material collected for scientific use. Bieber has not only brought home his diaries from this expedition, but also a nearly complete ethnographic collection from Jimma, Kaffa and Da’uro, more than one thousand photographs and five hundred drawings, drafts of maps, profiles of mountains, a dictionary, texts and samples of products from the areas visited. Bieber hands over a selection of the plants brought back to the Botanical Institute of the University of Vienna (these are lost in a depot
Fig. 50. Invitation to the Farewell Audience with Emperor Menelik II. on August 31, 1905.
for many years, but then worked upon from 1940). The economic success of the journey is based on the granting of a concession to plant cotton and to establish cotton mills.
After his return, Bieber writes articles in newspapers and holds a number of brilliant lectures, is honoured by scientific associations and invited by local and foreign universities, and receives commissions from scientific publishers. In Vienna, the name Friedrich Julius Bieber is inseparably tied to Ethiopia. But from the official side in Austria, Bieber receives no thanks for his work, neither by advancement nor by decoration.
His main occupation is again his work in the Trade Statistical Services.
July 17, 1906
The second son Otto Franz Wilhelm is born.
September 14, 1907
An Austrian delegation, which includes Bieber, receives an Ethiopian delegation arriving from Germany. Until September 28 the Ethiopians remain in Austria-Hungary and then travel to Italy.
Fig. 51. The Ethiopian Mission with the Austrian hosts. In the middle stands Friedrich Julius Bieber.
The Fourth Journey to Africa
End of May, 1908
Bieber is appointed Controller by the Minister of Trade. With this designation he enters the 1st salary step of the 9th class of the active civil servants, with an annual emolument of 2.800 Florin plus an activity allowance of 1.200 Florin.
Bieber wants to complement the rich material he has brought from his previous trips to Ethiopia, he wants to see his friends in Ethiopia again and to visit new parts of the country. He therefore searches for the possibility of a new journey, and in this is assisted by the Chamber of Commerce, which puts him in contact with the industrialist Emil G. Pick. His wife Berta Bieber tries to prevent the project from going through, because she is worried about the dangers of a new long expedition.
January 2, 1909
A letter from Dr. E. Pistor of the Chamber of Commerce, which paints an advantageous picture of the financial aspects and the risks of a new journey, and which points out that Bieber’s mission in life is Ethiopia, eases Mrs. Bieber’s worries.
With a new journey Bieber wants not only to complete his previous records and to widen his knowledge about southwestern Ethiopia, but also to follow up rumours about Menelik’s illness and death and about the country’s situation after Menelik’s death. The planned route through Southwest Ethiopia to the Sudan is seen by many as a promising trading route to the Nile in the future.
February 1, 1909
Bieber has received leave of absence at full emoluments and departs Vienna for his fourth expedition to Africa. On the first stage to Suez he is accompanied by the Amhara Negatu and together they plan the route of the journey.
February 8, 1909
Pick joins them in Suez on the vessel „Körber“. On the trip to Aden Bieber prepares questionnaires and starts his work for anthropological research.
February 13, 1909
Aden is reached. After a short rest in the „Hotel del Universe“ the journey is continued the same evening on board the „Oxus“.
February 14, 1909
In Djibouti the Austrians stay at the „Hotel de France“ and meet acquaintances, businessmen, delegates and other travellers. From the discussions they get the impression that because of the hesitations of the Austrians their trade is repressed in favour of trade with Germany. Djibouti has changed favourably due to many new buildings and also the environs look better because of more agricultural use.
February 20, 1909
The railway takes the Austrians to Direh Dawa where they lodge in the „Hotel Emile“. The town has grown greatly and has now about 2.000 inhabitants, including about 50 Europeans. In their quarters many stone buildings, hotels, coffee-houses and shops have been erected.
The cartridges, which were previously used as small change, have been replaced by Menelik by minted coins.
February 24, 1909
On Bieber’s 36th birthday he and Pick ride to Harar, „through a picture of peace and prosperity, as
everywhere in Galla Land“. The Austrians make visits and gain new friends. From the catholic bishop Bieber learns of the belief of the Amhara, that the earth is a disc with two gates, one to hell and one to heaven.
March 1, 1909
Bieber and Pick ride back to Direh Dawa to put together the caravan. In the villages they hear different rumours about the health condition of Menelik.
March 3, 1909
In the early afternoon Pick and Bieber start with a caravan of about twenty mules and eight attendants to Addis Ababa. They take the route via the Assabot Plains, which Bieber knows from previous journeys. Friedrich Bieber is again „Abba Kitaba“, the „Father of the Book“ and writes down all experiences and findings in a green-covered diary.
March 10, 1909
The caravan reaches the telephone-line and the main road to Addis Ababa, and in the afternoon the River Awash.
March 16, 1909
In the afternoon the caravan arrives in Addis Ababa. This has changed a lot because many new buildings have sprung up. The Gibi is not recognisable due to reconstructions and additions. The capital has now grown to about 100.000 inhabitants and has doubled in size during the last four years. The residents include about 1.500 Greeks and Armenians, and many Arabs and Indians, who together control nearly all of the retail trade in the city, as well as 300 Europeans. There are hardly any artisans present, and these are therefore much thought after.
The Austrians lodge at the „Hotel Terras“, which is now managed rather carelessly. During the next days Bieber meets many old acquaintances and learns much about the changes in the city and the empire. Menelik suffers from Syphilis, and is treated by several doctors, which are now from Germany.
Therefore Menelik is really very ill and has delegated the affairs of state to Ministers. The timing of Bieber’s visit appears to be unfortunate.
March 21, 1909
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Negadras Heilu Giorgis, promises his assistance to have audience with the Emperor and to receive permission for the journey to Gambela on the Baro River.
March 24, 1909
Whilst the German and French envoys have to wait for several weeks, the Austrians are invited to the audience on this day already. Menelik has obviously aged, but the eyes are still clear and the mind hardly impaired by the disease. The question of succession seems to occupy him. As reason for the visit they explain to the Emperor that they want to give a report to the Austrian Government about the true state of his health and that they want to study trading conditions in Ethiopia. As gifts they hand over to the Emperor a table telephone set and Bieber’s map of Kaffa. Without hesitation Menelik approves the planned journey and later they receive the letter of safe conduct.
The following days they use to enquire about the economic and political mood in the country. Some feel that feudalism, which Menelik can hardly contain, is the main problem of the country. A high point of their stay in Addis Ababa is the invitation of all foreign dignitaries to the Easter ceremony at the Gibi.
Otto Biebers / Stradals narration of an additional ceremony at the palace of Menelik with the appointment of Bieber to be Shi Ambal (Shambel), a colonel in the Ethiopian Army, during which he receives from the hands of Ras Wolde Giorgis the gold-covered shield of honour and the splendidly decorated Shambel’s sword, is not mentioned in the diaries. But only a rather formless Decoration of Pick. In recognition of his efforts to improve trade between Ethiopia and Austria-Hungary, Bieber has already been decorated in 1904. But when Bieber applies for retirement in 1922, he confirms his appointment in 1909 as Schi Ambal. Also, a visit to the imprisoned Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho, described in detail by Otto Stradal, can not be verified through the original documents. An explanation can be, however, that the diary entries from March 28 to April 7, 1909, are missing.
Fig. 52. Farewell-Tedsh in Addis Ababa. Bieber stands in the middle, on the left of the trumpeter.
Pick can probably been seen on the right side of the trumpeter.
Fig. 53. The route taken by Bieber and Pick from Addis Ababa to Gambela, as drawn by Dr. Annemarie Herrmann.
April 22, 1909
The expedition through the western parts of the country (Gallaland) and the countries of the Nile to Egypt starts. Bieber in particular „wants to get to know the old Ennarea, the North of the highland of Kaffa, then the areas which are probably the original home of the people of Kaffa, the Gonga or Kafecho, the country below Habesh, the country on the Blue and White Nile and Meroe, the old Kush“.
April 24, 1909
Bieber, Pick and the Earl of Schall, who has joined them, ascend the Sukuela Volcano (height 3.022 metres, on modern maps named Suqualla), which is
considered to be the seat of a deity by the Oromo and is also revered by the Amhara.
May 2, 1909
The watershed of the Awash (which drains into the Red Sea) and the Blue Nile is crossed. The route continues through densely populated hilly land, the Turkur Mountains and a treeless high plain to the region of Tukur Meder, the original home of the Ometi, and across the 20 metre wide Gibe River.
May 8, 1909
The Austrians reach the market-place of Kirita by crossing the Worabo Plain and more mountain-
Fig. 54. At the watershed between Awash and Nile (Gallaland).
ridges. The following days they march through sparsely populated hills to the Didessa River, which is 50 metres wide.
May 10, 1909
The Didessa is crossed with the help of some Galla and their canoes. The caravan travels through the region of Bunu, the northernmost region of the old Omo-Empire Guma, and reaches a high plain where they are received by the governor of Ras Tassama.
May 11, 1909
Near the market-place Bedele they hitch their first camp in the highlands (altitude above 2.000 metres). Later the Dabanna River is crossed and they ride through the region Tsharra, where there are swamps, forests and fertile grounds. To help the Austrian caravan, Ras Tassama has bridges erected across the Gabba and other rivers.
The western civilisation has hardly reached to these areas, only the telephone line from Addis Ababa is proof of some development. In some regions the Austrian caravan meets goods caravans on the way to Addis Ababa.
During the journey the travellers are usually in high spirits, only it is very strenuous. Until about two o’clock in the afternoon the heat is very high, and then starts the daily rain, which lasts until in the morning. Wetness and morass are daily companions. But compared to the journey to Kaffa, Bieber finds the conditions are better, for example the mules do not get sick.
May 15, 1909
The Austrians reach the market-place of Gore. From here many goods from Kaffa are sold into the Sudan. In the town, which lies at an attitude of 2.140 metres, lies the Gibi of Ras Tassama, which resembles a difficult to take fortress on a hill. There the guests are given a festive reception by the governor Fitaurari Ruffi. There is a telephone connection to Gambela, which gives the possibility to order a steamer to Gambela and therefore to reduce the waiting time in the lowlands where there are always dangers of epidemic diseases.
The expedition has a good supply of medicines in its first-aid boxes, which gives them the reputation of possessing some special medicaments. But it gets more and more difficult to fulfil all the wishes of
Fig. 55. Crossing a river.
the many patients who are coming for remedy, and Friedrich Bieber must explain to the people that he cannot do wonders.
May 18, 1909
The route to the Western edge of the highlands leads through populated hilly lands. On the way an Amhara offers for sale two naked children for three Florins each. Bieber writes later: „I should have paid for the children’s freedom“.
The caravan visits the grave of the last King of Bureh near the market-place of Sibbe.
At the edge of the highland flows the River Baro through a deep gorge like a canyon. At the westernmost Ethiopian settlement of Bureh Kattama, at the Araba Mountain (Bure) the caravan is dissolved. The soldiers are being paid off, as they do not want to go down into the lowlands because there is much fever. The mules are also not taken along. Now Oromo are hired as guides and porters.
May 21, 1909
In a ravine at the Burka Goma the last camp in the highlands is pitched, at an altitude of 1.790 metres. Then the way goes downwards to the Baro, into the lowlands of the Sudan. Life in the first village they meet, in Jambo, is described as very simple. The people wear only scanty clothes and live in low straw-covered huts.
May 24, 1909
Gambela, the destination of the expedition, is reached. It is a trading place under joint administration by Ethiopia and the Sudan. Gambela lies at a distance of about 530 kilometres from Addis Ababa and of about 1.300 kilometres from Khartoum. But the steamer, which shall take them to Khartoum, has not yet arrived. Because of the low waters of the Baro since October, no other ship has so far reached the town, and some supplies are getting low.
May 27, 1909
Finally the rear-driven steamer „El Hafir“ arrives. The Government of the Sudan has sent it to collect the Austrians, and not to bring supplies for Gambela.
May 29, 1909
On board the ship „El Hafir“ the voyage to Khartoum starts. The crew consists of Nubians, in Bieber’s view they resemble externally very much the Cushites of Western Ethiopia, only they have developed differently. The water-level is still very low and twice the ship runs aground on sandbanks. The mountains of the highlands move more and more into the distance and then one can only see flat grasslands all around. Here cow herds are grazing and occasionally one sees a palm tree.
May 30, 1909
With the confluence of the river Baro and the River Akobo or Pibot, which flows down from the highland of Kaffa, the frontier between Ethiopia and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan is reached. The river now bears the name of Sobat and is one of the main tributaries to the White Nile. After the rains in the highlands it contributes greatly to the rising of the Nile. Where the Sobat joins the White Nile, the southernmost point of the journey is reached. From now only it goes strictly to the North.
June 4, 1909
In Kosti the Austrians transfer to the bigger steamer „Gordon Pascha“ which takes them to Omdurman and Khartoum on the confluence of the White and Blue Niles. They remain three days in the capital of the Sudan. Bieber prefers the highlands to the deserts and could never feel comfortable here. He cannot understand the efforts of the British, who only recently have overcome the rule of the Mahdi. „To want to possess this land, to conquer it with bloody human sacrifices, to live in it, for this you need British temper.“
Ordinary people have been banned from Khartoum. About Slatin Pascha Bieber judges thus: „Slatin Pascha, who has been honoured so much, plays only a minor role. He has absolutely no initiative of his own, but has to follow British instructions, otherwise he would be finished. But he occupies a very splendid position and could not care less about the Arabs.“ In Omdurman Bieber is shown a house where Slatin Pascha lived during his imprisonment. The house is more comfortable then some of the houses used by Europeans in Ethiopia.
The British enquire with great interest from Bieber and Pick about conditions in Ethiopia.
June 8, 1909
By train Bieber departs from Khartoum. „The railway line crosses Nubia, the old Cushitic Christian empire, the true Ethiopia, whose place Habesh has now taken.“ Via Port Said Bieber returns to Austria. Pick
continues his world journey, and travels to India, Japan and China.
Bieber and Pick have been the first Austrians to traverse Ethiopia from East to West. From Djibouti to Khartoum they have completed a journey of 2.653 kilometres. Including the rail trip to Port Sudan they have travelled 3.442 kilometres for which they took a time of 53 days. The interests and aims of the rich and self-assured industrialist Pick and Bieber, who was not afraid of any risk or trouble to gain scientific knowledge, were quite different. This could have influenced their harmony during the journey. In any case, in their diaries and in letters they mention each other only very few times.
After four expeditions Bieber has achieved his aim. He has seen Kaffa, the lost empire of the Emperor-Gods, and he has opened up and recorded for science a part of the darkest Africa.
The Time after the Journeys
2nd half of the year 1909
Now Bieber returns to his work at the Trade Statistical Services. In addition he continues his scientific work in languages and ethnology. He publishes the results of his studies in brochures and books and gives lectures both to the academic community and to the general audience in the service of popular knowledge.
From now on his official work is being judged every year and he always receives a grade of „very good“.
December 12, 1913
Emperor Menelik II dies. Shortly after his death Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho is released from the jungle prison and pardoned from his custody in chains.
But he remains as prisoner of the state under house arrest in a cottage outside the capital.
The preparations of Friedrich Bieber for a new expedition to the Sudan are being frustrated by the start of World War I.
Bieber is decorated in Austria with the Golden Service Cross with the Crown.
April 28, 1917
The Minister of Trade appoints Bieber Senior Controller. In previous years he already has reached the 8th rank in the salary scheme. During the war he is
Chairman of the local branch (District of Hietzing) of the „Kinderfreunde“ (socialist youth organisation). In the year 1917 Bieber is in charge of the first Austrian vacation colony of this organisation in Igls, Tyrol. Bieber is a convinced Social Democrat and in his spare time he is active as Sektionsvertrauensmann (section confidential person) of the Social Democratic Party.
In the same year Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho is allowed to move around freely within Addis Abeba.
Bieber is in charge of a tent camp of the Vienna Socialist Youth Organisation in Finsterleiten.
December 30, 1918
The Mayor of Vienna appoints Bieber as Deputy Chairman of the provisional District Council for the 13th District (Hietzing). This function he holds only a short time. But he continues to belong to the Kinderfreunde of the District of Hietzing, where he was Chairman during the years of the war.
Fig. 56. Berta and Friedrich Bieber with their son Otto
in about 1916 during a walk in the Vienna Woods.
Otto Bieber/Stradal mention that Friedrich Bieber was seen by some as one of those Austrians, who during the difficult times after the lost war were able to raise in the youth a new enthusiasm and a belief in the cultural greatness of Austria. Through Max Winter, an editor of the „Arbeiter-Zeitung“, he found a connection to the new youth of Vienna and he was accepted by them with enthusiasm. He was very much involved with hiking groups which were becoming very popular and thereby could have become the Father of the camping movement.
March 4, 1919
Friedrich Bieber learns of the death of Taatoo Gaaki Sharecho and of the appointment of his son Basabo Sharecho as Governor of Kaffa with all royal privileges, but without power to rule.
Autumn of 1919
Bieber considers to go into retirement, but it appears he does not hand in his application. At this time he ranks in the 2nd salary grade of the 8th class. His salary amounts to 4.000 Florin plus an activity allowance of 1.380 Florin .
Otto Bieber/Stradal describe the miserable picture of Vienna as capital of the newly formed Republic of Austria, after four years of war. The stocks of heating coal in the household in Ober St. Veit are finished and some days Berta Bieber does not know how to put at least one proper meal on the family table every day.
July 1, 1920
Bieber is appointed Inspector and moves forward to the 7th class. His annual salary is now 9.600 Florin plus a „locality allowance“ of 2.520 Florin. One can already see inflationary tendencies.
Fig. 57. Photograph of the vacation-colony in Igls, Tyrol, organised by the Arbeiter Verein (Labourer’s Union)
Kinderfreunde in Austria. Friedrich Julius Bieber is seated in the middle.
Bieber publishes his book: Kaffa. An ancient Cushitic People in Central Africa. Reports about Land and People, about Customs and Habits of the Kafecho or Gonga and the Empire of Kaffa. First Volume – Introduction: The Life of the Kafecho or Gonga. Published by Aschendorffsches Publishing House, Münster i. W. 1920.
March 24, 1921
The Austrian Federal President confers on Bieber the title of Oberinspektor. In the winter of the same year this designation is changed to „Rechnungsdirektor“. A new posting scheme ranks Bieber into salary rank 14 (management of a department or similar independent activity), retroactive to January 1, 1920, but without increase in salary.
Fig. 58. Friedrich Julius Bieber, oil painting
by Prof. Oskar Rainer, 1921.
Spring of 1922
Bieber visits Univ.-Prof. Leo Frobenius in Bayrisch-Gmain, Germany, where he also meets a number of other members of the Cultural-Morphological Institute.
End of 1922
Bieber applies for permanent transfer into retirement and requests to be awarded the title of „Regierungsrat“. As reasons he gives his merits in connection with Ethiopia, the honours he received there, his scientific work and his books, as well as more than 300 lectures. He also states his activities as Deputy District Commissioner of the 13th District of Vienna and as Welfare Councillor. Further it is his wish that after his death his ethnographical collections will be taken over by an Austrian museum. For all this he has not received any official recognition in Austria. Although his office supports his application to be appointed „Regierungsrat“, it is rejected by higher authority, so as to avoid having to give the same title to Bieber’s superiors.
End of January, 1923
The fifty year old Bieber is transferred into permanent retirement, his pension amounts to 101.706 Florin and 12 Heller. His total time of service in the Trade Statistical Service is 32 years, including 2 ½ years of war service. It is not certain whether he was actually drafted into the army during the First World War. After his very heavy Malaria attacks in 1909 he continued to be very weak, therefore it is quite possible that he was freed from active army service. In his Roll of Citizenship it is stated that he is unfit to bear arms because of general bodily weakness, but no time period is given. One reason for his early retirement is seen in the possibility that he wanted to devote himself fully to scientific work at the Cultural-Morphological Institute of Leo Frobenius, situated near Munich, Germany.
Bieber does not loose hope that he will be able to travel to Ethiopia one more time. One of the concrete travel plans is the one with the industrialist Ing. Oskar Danzer in this year 1923. But the plans do not
materialise due to lack of financing. Later on there is talk about him taking part in an expedition of the Cultural-Morphological Institute to Southwest Ethiopia.
Otto Bieber/Stradal also describe Friedrich Bieber’s ideas of free study for talented children, and this is becoming reality.
Summer of 1923
Bieber is appointed a corresponding member of the Cultural-Morphological Institute.
Bieber publishes the book: Kaffa. An ancient Cushitic People in Central Africa. Reports about Land and People, about Customs and Habits of the Kafecho or Gonga and the Empire of Kaffa. Second Volume – The community live of the Kafecho or Gonga. Published by the Anthropos Administration, St. Gabriel, Mödling.
Both volumes of the main work of Friedrich Julius Bieber are available on demand as re-prints from Fines Mundi GmbH in Saarbrücken.
Frobenius asks Bieber for his collaboration on a book. This is the last documented letter to Bieber.
March 3, 1924
Friedrich Bieber dies at the age of 51 years of apoplexy of the brain in his apartment in Vienna. Three days later his remains are cremated at the city’s crematory and interred at the Central Cemetery of Vienna.
Immediately after his death only the „Arbeiter-Zeitung“ publishes two obituaries (on March 6 and 11, 1924). They point out the problems Bieber had as „proletarian“ who hailed from very simple backgrounds, to succeed under difficult circumstances against a bureaucratic and aristocratic administration, fighting for his recognition as autodidact with never-ending zeal and effort. But they also write highly about his qualities as father
and as a fatherly friend of children. For a long time Bieber does not receive any appreciation from the scientific community, because as autodidact he was not accepted among experts. But already during his live-time his significance is established in the reviews of his books and later confirmed at anniversaries, in biographical essays and in many scientific works about North-east Africa.
Since Bieber’s time some changes have been made to the scientific picture of Kaffa. Some views and conclusions of Bieber have and are still being put into
doubt or are being rectified. This includes Bieber’s holding on to the old-egyptian origin of the culture, of his views about the significance of Kaffa, of its religion, of the position of the God-Emperor and the meaning of the Emperor’s Crown. But nobody doubts Bieber’s merits and his two books about Kaffa are still the most important works of the complete literature about Kaffa. It is thanks to him that for posterity a comprehensive knowledge about the culture of Kaffa has been saved, and in all later works his records form an important basis of all discussions.
The Time after Friedrich Julius Bieber
According to Lehmann’s Apartment Register, in 1939 Otto Bieber is still living in his parent’s apartment in Auhofstraße 144–144A. But the next year he is already occupying a flat at Tuersgasse 21 (just round
Fig. 59. The invitation to the Exhibition at the Hagenbund in 1936.
Fig. 60. A photograph taken at the apartment of Otto Bieber, shown in the Exhibition at the Hagenbund in 1936.
Fig. 61. The Bieber Family at the Exhibition at the Hagenbund 1936. From left to right: Friedrich Julius Bieber’s second son Otto, his Widow Berta Bieber, Friedrich Julius Bieber’s first son Friedrich.
the corner). The extensive collection of his father is also moved to the new address.
On the initiative of Otto Bieber and with assistance from the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna, the complete ethnographic collection and the scientific estate of Friedrich Julius Bieber are transferred to Spitz at the Danube.
The apartment in Tuersgasse has been spared the devastations by the war and therefore the Kaffa Collection and Friedrich Julius Bieber’s scientific estate are brought back to Vienna.
The Museum of Ethnology in Vienna receives from Otto Bieber on a loan basis parts of the collection of Friedrich Julius Bieber from his expeditions in 1904 and 1905.
March 6, 1947
The Austrian Academy of Sciences publishes the work of G. Cufodontis, of the Botanical Institute of the University of Vienna, on the botanical materials brought back by Bieber in 1905. The material had been lying in a depot for 35 years and was handed over to Cufodontis in 1940.
The Universum Verlag publishes the book of Otto Bieber: Mysterious Kaffa – in the Realm of the Emperor-Gods. He was inspired to this work because the remembrance of his father’s work and his own involvement with it saved him from becoming a prisoner of war in Siberia.
On July 24, Berta Bieber, the widow of Friedrich Julius Bieber, dies in Vienna at the age of 79 years.
Fig. 62. Visit of Emperor Haile Selassie I. to the Museum of Ethnology, Vienna, in 1954. On the left of the Emperor is
Dr. (Mrs.) Schweeger-Hefel, custodian for Africa, and on the extreme right is Otto Bieber.
During his State Visit to Austria the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I., is shown the collections of Friedrich Julius Bieber in the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna. He is also presented with copies of the books by Otto Bieber and Otto Stradal. During this guided tour Emperor Haile Selassie learns from Otto Bieber about where the „Shaude“, the golden feather crown of the Emperor-Gods of Kaffa, is now being kept. It is the property of the heirs of Alfred Ilg and is still kept in a bank safe in Zurich. Already the next day Haile Selassie travels by train to Zurich to meet the widow of Alfred Ilg. After ten days of negotiations he acquires the crown and takes it by plane directly to Addis Ababa. There crown and royal chair are kept in the Museum of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, University of Addis Ababa.
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Emperor Haile Selassie I. accession to the throne, Otto Bieber, the son of Friedrich Julius Bieber, travels to Ethiopia. He is received by the Emperor during a special audience and later during the Anniversary Fair at the opening of the Austrian Pavilion.
His father’s passion for Africa has been transmitted to Otto Bieber. During the course of his live he undertakes three expeditions to this continent and makes many visits. He gives many public lectures in remembrance of his father and about his own journeys. He constantly endeavours to keep alive the memory on the work of his father.
July 25, 1956
The Kaffa Collection of Friedrich Julius Bieber will be put under official protection.
Otto Bieber sells the greater part of his father’s collection to the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna. This collection had been on loan to the Museum since 1946 and comprises 253 objects.
March 16, 1959
On the initiative of the Geographical Society of Vienna a memorial plaque is unveiled at Auhofstraße 144 in Vienna – Ober St. Veit, the house where Friedrich Julius Bieber lived and died. The plaque is taken into the care of the City of Vienna. The following is inscribed on the plaque:
IN THIS HOUSE LIVED FROM 1901
TO HIS DEATH IN 1924
THE AUSTRIAN AFRICA EXPLORER
FRIEDRICH JULIUS BIEBER.
HIS LIFE’S WORK WAS DEDICATED
TO THE EXPLORATION OF
THE EMPIRE OF KAFFA
THE COUNTRY OF THE EMPEROR-GOD
IN SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA
GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY VIENNA
Fig. 63. After the unveiling of the Memorial Plaque by Univ. Prof. Dr. Spreitzer of the Geographical Society Vienna (standing second from left). In the middle stands Otto Bieber.
Fig. 64. At about the same time a park at
Versorgungsheimplatz, Wien 13., is named
April 21, 1965
The mortal remains of Berta and Friedrich Julius Bieber are transferred to the urn depository of the Cemetery of Ober St. Veit, where the Bieber Family has acquired a grave (Gruppe L, Reihe. 42).
July 7, 1967
In the castle of Bad Deutsch-Altenburg the „Nieder-österreichische Landesausstellung 1967 – Afrika“ (Exhibition of the Province of Lower Austria 1967 – Africa) is opened. Friedrich Julius Bieber is one of several explorers of Africa shown here and Otto Bieber gives on loan several objects of his collection.
February 24, 1973
The efforts of Otto Bieber to have his parent’s grave at the cemetery of Ober St. Veit converted to an honorary one are successful. On the 100th anniversary
of the birthday of Friedrich Julius Bieber the cultural department of the City of Vienna dedicates the grave to be an honorary grave.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Bieber’s birthday the Museum of Ethnology of Vienna shows a special exhibition with the title „The Discovery of Kaffa, in Memory of F. J. Bieber (24.2.1873– 3.3.1924)“.
Friedrich Julius Bieber’s library, which contains more than 1.000 essays, books and maps is handed over in very bad condition by the Commerzbibliothek of Hamburg to the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek also in Hamburg. Shortly after Bieber’s death this library was sold to Hamburg for commercial reasons and through the intermediation of the Museum of Natural History.
Fig. 65. Dr. (Mrs.) Annemarie Herrmann in one of the rooms of the special exhibition at Bad Deutsch-Altenburg in 1975.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Bieber’s expedition to Kaffa and on the initiative of Otto Bieber, who also gives objects on loan, in the summer of this year the Africa-Museum in Bad Deutsch-Altenburg shows a special exhibition on Friedrich Julius Bieber.
In the same year the District Museum of Hietzing arranges an exhibition about Africa, showing Emil Holub, Slatin Pascha, Ida Pfeiffer and also objects and documents of Friedrich Julius Bieber.
In December 1975 Dr. Annemarie Herrmann completes her dissertation about Friedrich Julius Bieber.
June 12, 1979
The District Museum Hietzing acquires from Otto Bieber the private collection of his father Friedrich Julius Bieber. This collection consists of about 150 very interesting objects from Kaffa and many photographs. The collection contains items such as
Fig. 66 und 67. Photographs of the „Africa Room“ in the apartment at Vienna 13., Tuersgasse 21.
clothing, ornaments, household effects, agricultural implements, musical instruments and weapons. It covers nearly all of human’s necessities in life. Three of four handwritten diaries of the journeys have been handed over earlier to the Handschriftensammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek (Austrian National Library). Other parts of the private collection are handed over to the District Museum later on, for example the library in 1995.
September 7, 1980
The District Museum Hietzing opens the Ethiopia-Kaffa-Exhibition. It shows part of Bieber's collection from Kaffa, which was acquired the previous year.
In Halbthurn Castle is shown the exhibition „Abenteuer Ostafrika“ (Adventure East Africa), which includes some routing maps of Friedrich Julius Bieber.
Otto Bieber dies on December 13, and is interred in the family grave at the Cemetery of Ober St. Veit.
Fig. 68 und 69. Photographs of the „Africa Room“ in the apartment at Vienna 13., Tuersgasse 21.
The District Museum Hietzing takes over from Klaus Bieber, the son of Otto Bieber, the personal library, which has been extended by Otto Bieber and contains now 124 books and essays.
January 7, 2000
The Head of the District Museum Hietzing, Felix Steinwandtner, requests the Institute of Ethnology, Cultural and Social Anthropology of the University of Vienna to assist in newly arranging and correctly describing the private collection of Friedrich Julius Bieber, which had been handed over to the museum by Otto Bieber. Vera Klenner is put in charge of this task.
The botanical materials in possession of the District Museum Hietzing are examined and described by the Botanical Institute of the University of Vienna.
Vera Klenner completes her master’s thesis on the ethnographical collection Bieber in the District Museum Hietzing.
Hannes Stromberger completes his master’s thesis: „Denn schließlich ist das alles nur mein Werk“, der österreichische Afrikareisende Friedrich Julius Bieber (1873–1924) und die österreichisch-äthiopischen Beziehungen, Universität Wien, 2007 (Because all this is just my work – the Austrian Africa traveller Friedrich Julius Bieber (1873–1924) and the Austro-Ethiopian Relations, University Vienna, 2007). This confirms the continued interest in the work of Friedrich Julius Bieber.
At its meeting in Paris from May 31 to June 4, 2010, the International Co-ordinating Board of the UNESCO-Programme „Man and Biosphere“ decides to include the two first areas in Ethiopia, namely Kaffa and Yayu, into ist global net of Biosphere Reserves.
On the request of NABU (Naturschutzbund Deutschland) the German archeologist Dr. Ruth Sandner assists with an open-air museum project in Bonga, capital of the province of Kaffa.
Fig. 70. The Head of the District Museum Hietzing, Prof. Felix Steinwandtner,
and an interested visitor at the newly created Kaffa-Exhibition.
Fig. 71. View into one of the show-cases.
Fig. 74. Klaus Bieber at his family’s honorary grave.
Klaus Bieber, the grandson of Friedrich Julius Bieber, is invited to Ethiopia, to participate in the UNESCO-Meeting on the occasion of the Inauguration of the Kaffa Biosphere Reserve.
He has also succumbed to the passion for Africa, where he has spent nearly fifty years of his life. Since 1973 he has been Honorary Consul for Austria in Sierra Leone, West Africa. In 2008 he finally returned to Austria.
Fig. 72. Inauguration of the UNESCO Kaffa Biosphere Reserve on 22nd March, 2011.
The ceremonies were of great significance for the local population, more than 15.000 people attended.
Here the flags of the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region and of Ethiopia are carried in the procession.
Fig. 73. As part of the festivities a street in Bonga was named after Friedrich Julius Bieber.
VISIT THE DISTRICT MUSEUM HIETZING
1130 Wien, Am Platz 2
Telephone: +43 1 877 76 88, Fax: +43 1 877 49 35
Opening hours: Wednesday 14–18 hours, Saturday 14–17 hours
Public Transport: U4, Tram 10, 58, 60
Free entry, donations welcome
The District Museum Hietzing
- exists since more than sixty years
- is run by engaged descendants of Hietzing
- documents the growth from small settlements to villages and to the District and its development
- shows memorabilia of famous personalities,
e.g. the typewriter of Nobel Laureat Berta von Suttner
or the private collection of the Kaffa-Explorer Friedrich Julius Bieber
- is a treasure trove for students and professionally interested people
- regularly organizes special exhibitions
- has a rich programme of events
- informs continously about its programms – please ask to be included in our distribution list
- is supported with funds from the cultural budget of city and district
- should you visit not only once
PRESENTLY KAFFA IS NOT YET A TOURIST DESTINATION. BUT NOW THE INFRASTRUCTURE IST QUICKLY DEVELOPED (A GOOD ACCESS ROAD IS BUILT FROM THE ETHIOPIAN CAPITAL ADDIS ABABA, A LODGE FOR TOURIST ACCOMODATION IS BUILT ETC.). FROM THE END OF 2013 IT WILL BE POSSIBLE FOR TOURISTS TO
VISIT KAFFA AND TO DISCOVER IST BEAUTIES.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT NABU OF GERMANY –
NATURE AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION UNION:
Svane Bender-Kaphengst, Head of Africa-Program, NABU Headquarters Berlin
Phone +49 (0)30.28 49 84-17 11, www.NABU.de/en/
ALSO PLEASE VISIT THE WEBSITE WWW.KAFA-BIOSPHERE.COM
KAFFA IS CALLING
VISIT THE ORIGINAL HOME OF COFFEE!
1 Old coptic church in Andracha
2 Children of local schools during a festivity in Bonga
3 Boka Model Village
4 Waterfall near Bonga
5 Testing of Coffee
6 Wild Coffee Beans
7 Great coffee ceremony during a festivity in Bonga
8 Flower in full bloom
9 A local dignitary
10 In the coffee forest
All photographs © Svane Bender-Kaphengst / Ruth Sandner Cleophe Bender / Bruno D‘Amicis