The German Institute Taipei yesterday unveiled a memorial plaque on the former site of the Imperial German Consulate in Taiwan in Taipei’s Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area, as it celebrated more than 100 years of ties between the two nations.
The plaque was installed on the wall surrounding Taipei Municipal Zhongxiao Junior High School and features a brief introduction to the consulate’s history in German, Chinese and English.
It also depicts a hand-drawn sketch by a Taiwanese designer of what the consulate looked like in the 19th century.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times
Due to increasing trade activities between Germany and Taiwan in the 1890s, the two-story consulate building was constructed in 1895 on the banks of the Tamsui River (淡水河) by Taiwan-based German businessman Arthur von Butler on behalf of the then-German Foreign Office, the institute said.
Two German consuls and four interim consuls were stationed at the consulate before it was closed and sold to the Japanese colonial administration in 1908 and torn down, the institute said, adding that the official seal of the consulate used “Formosa” rather than “Taiwan” to refer to the island at the time.
“About 120 years ago, what stood in front of the school’s main gate was the Imperial German Consulate. On the right was the then-US embassy and behind the consulate stood the then-Dutch embassy,” school principal Chen Tse-min (陳澤民) said.
After the institute posted a message on Facebook in October 2016 inquiring about the exact location of the consulate, a few of the school’s history teachers used a digital historical map to try to locate it, only to realize it was located where the faculty office is today, he said.
The discovery motivated the school’s teachers to design a series of teaching materials that seek to take students back to 1895 through a historical tour of Dadaocheng that begins at the site of the former consulate, he added.
Several students have expressed interest in studying in Germany due to the school’s connection with the nation, Chen said.
Institute Director-General Thomas Prinz said that his office started studying the history behind the former consulate as early as 2015.
“Thanks to information provided by the German Federal Foreign Office and the help of many Taiwanese friends, we were able to find the old site of what was known at the time as the ‘most beautiful and magnificent building along the Tamsui River,’” Prinz said.
The school is the “most ideal successor” to the former consulate, he said, expressing the hope that the school and the institute could cooperate to jointly hold events.
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