Germans in the Caribbean? The history of Germans, slaves and Suriname

Franziska Christine von Pfalz-Sulzbach  and her Surinamese slave Ignatius Fortuna
Badenstein, Berlijn and Halle in Saxen sound like the names of German Cities. And names as Duttenhofer, Krieger and Kuhn sound like German family names.  But these name were also the names of slave plantations and are also family names of black people in Suriname.

 Carl Haarnack researched the German influence in Suriname from 1650 en 1900 and found that their influence didn't start with the Moravian Church of the German missionaries in Suriname during the abolitional period, but sooner.

The Moravian Church is the largest church in  Suriname and it’s the church of the Creole community. There are also schools for Creole children in the Netherlands and in Suriname who are part of that church.
Introduction: Suriname joined the Treaty of Breda in 1667. Until then, it was the French, the British and the Dutch who alternately called the shots. Besides bringing enough workers (mainly African slaves), a great challenge was to attract sufficient European settlers. At the end of the 18th century, the colony had a population of about 50,000 inhabitants, of which only 3000 were white Europeans. A significant part of this small population was of German origin. It is logical that these Germans left their mark in Suriname throughout the centuries. Among them were missionaries, doctors, merchants, plantation managers, and many soldiers. There are estates in Suriname with names like Berlin, Halle in Saxony, Altona, Brunswick, Hamburg, Hildesheim Burg, and Clemens, to name a few. Many Surinamese surnames are of German origin; Baumgartner, Bender, Heilbronn, Hering, Karg, Kuhn, Krieger, Menke, Neuss, Petzoldt, Stuger, Telting, and Vogt are just random examples. But under what circumstances did the Germans go to Suriname? Who were these people? What motivated them to embark on this voyage?

You can read the answers in Dutch at

It appears that a Black Surinamese woman named Alzire lived and died  in Germany in 18the century. When she died  German princes Wilhelmina of Prussia wrote in her obituary, “Sie ist eine heydinn, herkommlich aus der Provinz Surinam, eines entlegenen Welttheiles. Sie ist durch ein besondres Schicksal, das uns grostentheils unbekannt ist; in unsseren Welttheil gekommen, und von unsrer Durchlauchtigsten Landesherrschaft auf- und angenommen werden. Ihr Name ist Alzire – ihr Alter ist, so viel man Nachricht hat, ungefaehr 22 Jahr – sie ist am 22sten May 1751 Abends um 2 Uhr gestorben.”

My English translation
"She's a heathen from the province of Suriname, a remote world. It is through good fortune, which for the most part is unknown to us, she has come in our part of the world and was taken in our serene territorial lordship. Her name is Alzire - her age is, as far as we know, around 22 years - she died in 1751 on the 22nd of May at 2 clock in evening."

These obituaries were only made for the nobility and rich people who could afford it.  But nevertheless I wonder how she was brought to Germany and if she died as a free women or if was held in slavery. "

I hope the grave of Alzire will be found one day, so she can be given the same ceremony as the slave Eliëzer who’s grave lies on the Jewish cemetery in the city of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel in the Netherlands. He unfortunately was the slave of a big slave trader. 


  1. Hohenzollern and Hasburg were Black and German what s your take on that

    1. Anonymous, I don't have an opinion about it. Sorry.

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