Herrmann, Alfons, Br. (1874-1962)

Birth / Death: 

born 16 November 1874, Allenstein (Ermland)

died 3 January 1962, Trier (age 88)

Br. Alfons was a locksmith at Lombadina from 1904 to about 1907. He was posted to Cameroon (1911-1914), interned during the war, and left the Pallottine Society in 1921 and later married.


Alfons Herrmann joined the Pallottine Societ at Limburg on 7 August 1896 and received his habit on 29 June 1897. He made his first profession on 7 October 1900 but there were troubles brewing over his eternal profession. In an undated letter (ca. 1904 - he mentions that he has been a member of the congregation for some eight years) he explained that he was just about to be admitted to the eternal profession when a complaint was made against him. He explained that he had supplied one of the army corporals with some snuff in return for the re-issue of the draft certificate for Br. Wieland (Wieland left the Society in 19051). He asked to be admitted to the eternal profession and was prepared to accept any posting.


In May 1904 he accompanied the fourth expedition (Stütting, Helmprecht, Krallmann) to Beagle Bay but only stayed in Australia three years. He returned to Limburg on 12 October 1907.2 As a Pallottine locksmith he invented an alternative to curtain rings and made patentable improvements on a weed remover for the invasive agricultural weed Kickxia.3


In June 1911 he accompanied the 45th expedition to Cameroon. At the outbreak of World War I he took part in naval operations against the British blockade and was interned in Cotonou (Benin) and Le Mans (France) described in an extensive newspaper clipping (no date or source) in his personal file. Br. Alfons was released to Limburg in March 1918 in very poor health.


He published the story of his wartime experiences, after ‘many years’ as a missionary in Australia and Cameroon, in a Limburg newspaper. In August 1914 he volunteered for the defence corps and was placed in charge of the mission boat Regina, which had been requisitioned to patrol the harbor area of Duala. His uniform was a red armband worn on the left, a black red and gold cord on the left sleeve, and a silver flying eagle on his cap. He received an iron cross and a promotion to corporal (Unteroffizier der Kameruner Schutztruppe) for his work at Suelaba, ascertaining the position of the British and attempting to blow up their warship with a locally made torpedo. In the process the mission boat was blown up and burnt down and the crew was taken prisoner. Herrmann was presented to a war court on the British armoured cruiser Cumberland and sentenced to death. He was transferred to the transport ship Elmina, detained with tied hands and feet and taken to Lagos to be handed over to the French to execute the sentence. The French detained him in an unlit and unfurnished cell in Cotonou for three months before taking him to the other Cameroon detainees in Abomey under conditions which he described as inhuman and slave-labour. He was suffering from Malaria while forced to perform hard labour in equatorial heat. After nine months the German government achieved their reolocation to Marocco. They were now allowed to receive letters from home, and therefore could receive money to purchase extra food. Punishment was lock-up in the ‘dog house’. In June 1916 the prisoners were taken to various camps in France. Herrman was affected by cerebral malaria, which rendered him practically quadriplegic. He was taken to a clinic in Switzerland, but no improvement could be achieved so he was released to Germany, at first to a lazaret in Berlin and then to the Limburg infirmary.4


In September 1919 he was granted an extension of his seaside holiday and expected to arrive back in Limburg in May 1920. On 27 June 1920 the Limburg Provincial told Herrmann that there was no prospect of sending him back to the mission field, and it was difficult to find a new placement for him. At the end of that year Herrmann, still undergoing medical treatment, and now earning an income through clerical work in Königsberg, decided to leave the Society. 5 In early April 1921 he wrote from a Baltic seaside resort that he was gaining weight again (72 kg) but still suffering from occasional malaria attacks.


In the process of a property dispute he itemized all the possessions he brought with him to the Society in 1896:


2 new suits (one grey, one black)

2 used suits

6 blue linen suits [possibly work overalls]

2 camel hair woolen blankets

1 dozen sheets

1 dozen face washers

1 dozen hand towels



1 dozen cuffs

2 dozen white handkerchiefs

3 dozen coloured handkerchiefs

1 dozen woolen socks

½ dozen cotton socks

4 pairs of shoes

1 pair of slippers

a summer coat

a winter coat

2 hats

2 caps

a fabric suitcase

a large wicker travel trunk

1 silver watch

He also claimed that 500 Mark that his mother gave to the Society were meant for him, and that he had given his gold watch to the Superior.


He was offered 1,000 Mark, which he felt inadequate compensation for the materials left behind. He claimed that his would barely cover the purchase of a winter coat and a summer coat. Just to tailor a suit, without materials, would cost 360 Mark. He claimed that he had 1,500 Mark in his credit (presumably the 500 Mark paid by his mother years ago, and the 1000 Mark offered to him), and the interest that must have accrued on this money ought to pay for some masses to be read for his family.


He left the Society on 26 April 1921 and later married.





1 Antonia Leugers Eine geistliche Unternehmensgeschichte – Die Limburger Pallottiner-Provinz 1892-1932, St. Ottilien EOS Verlag 2004: 542.

2 Hannappel in Limburg to Veen and Br. Ludwig, 12. 6. 2007 in Alfons Herrmann, Br. Ex- ZAPP. Records in Rossmoyne indicated that he left in 1909 in poor health.

3 Antonia Leugers Eine geistliche Unternehmensgeschichte – Die Limburger Pallottiner-Provinz 1892-1932, St. Ottilien EOS Verlag 2004:116.

4 Newsclipping (n.d., n.p.) in Alfons Herrmann, Br. Ex- ZAPP.

5 Herrmann in Königsberg to Provinzial in Limburg, 28 November 1920, in Alfons Herrmann, Br. Ex- ZAPP.