John Rabe

From Kaiserreich


John Rabe

John H. D. Rabe (born in Hamburg, Germany on November, 23 1882) is a German businessman and colonial administrator. Chairman of the Asian branch of Siemens AG (Siemens Ostasien), he is also the current Secretary for Economic Relations with Germany of the Allgemeine Ostasiatische Gesellschaft and member of the AOG Board of Directors.


The son of a sea captain, Rabe pursued a career in business, serving as an apprentice with a merchant in Hamburg then working in Africa. He left for China in 1908 and began to work for the Siemens AG China Corporation in 1910, working in Mukden, Beijing, Tientsin and Shanghai. He was there when the Germans invaded the chaotic country, heavily supporting German expansionism, as he dubbed himself as a devout subject of the Kaiser. As such, when it was decided that Southern China would stay under German direct administration and all given to the control and exploitation of German firms, Siemens AG established Siemens Ostasien, the Asian branch of the engineering Konzern; as he was their best man there, Rabe was named Chairman and as such, became one of the members of the almighty Board of Directors which was leading the country with the General-Governor. In 1931, noting Siemens's excellent turnover, then General-Governor Hans von Seeckt called Rabe to be the Secretary for Economic Relations with Germany, entrusting him with the liability of ensuring industrial development of the AOG and protecting German interests in China. He was not removed by Alexander von Falkenhausen.

Even if many German businessmen urged Rabe to really exploit the Chinese Native population in order to provide the needed manpower in order to ensure the competition with other economic powers of the region such as Japan, Rabe vehemently refused to do so, stating that his functions could not permit the deprivation of human rights for thousands of people, displaying a kind of humanism which is rather unusual among German colonial administrators.


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