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Colonia, Yap, became the German administration center for the Western Caroline islands.Georg Fritz Collection, MARC.


“And then came the Germans, who claimed the islands,” Cal says. “The Spaniards’ main interest had been trying to Christianize all of the people out here. The Germans came and claimed ownership, and then these two had a conflict over who had the rights to the islands.

“The Germans, their main focus was somewhere else,” Mariano adds, “so mostly their presence here was protection—‘in the name of Germany’—asserting that the islands were under their administration.

“They had perhaps one or two people here, and they included some islanders as ‘policemen’ to maintain order. But not like the Japanese, who, when they came there, they tried set up a business for themselves."



“The old people used to talk about the Germans,” Isaac Langal recalls. “My grandfather on my mother’s side remembered, he was in Palau during German time, doing forced labor in Angaur. Many people were sent over to Angaur to work, in the phosphate mines—forced labor—not only from Ulithi but from all the Outer Islands.

"The German police would come; they came with their weapons and started to shout at people. Some people, they tied them and put them on the boat. It was really bad. The old people remembered that.

"But some men, they volunteered. They volunteered when the Germans looked for the young and strong men. Some of them volunteered to go and some didn’t want to go, so they tied them and put them on the boat."


German Cannon

German cannon, painted agains rust and propped on an automobile wheel rim. Imeongs Collection, Yap.


German Gun

Remains of a German gun on Yap. Imeongs Collection.


“There were quite a few people from Ulithi that died in Palau, in Angaur, during the German time. I remember two of my grandmothers on my mother’s side died in Angaur. Sometimes when the men volunteered to go, the daughters wanted to go too, and die with their fathers.

“Otherwise the Germans didn’t do very much out here. They only took people and had them work in the phosphate mines. They did very little trading out here. The Germans trained locals as a police force, and the locals remained out here. There was no German school that I remember old people saying.”



Phosphate mine

Laborers from Palau and Yap working in the phosphate minds on Anguar, Palau. Hezel (2002) writes, "They made the equivalent of four dollars a month. Mining operations continued on Angaur for more than thirty years." Georg Fritz Collection, MARC.

“David O’Keefe was an influential figure here in Yap-proper,” Cal notes, “because of his presence, physically, on Yap. But most of the things that happen in Yap sort of have a ripple effect in the neighboring islands."

O'Keefe was an American who established a trading monopoly in Yap. Cal tells his story here.

“O’Keefe, when his fleet was a little bit bigger” Mariano states, “consisting of a couple of ships—all Chinese junks or schooners—then some of those people came out here. They came to sort of look over the copra production. But the main copra production during O’keefe’s time was on Yap, mainland Yap.



“Some of those old folks in Ulithi used to tell me how they would cook the slugs for him,” Cal recalls. “They would cook them in the salt water, then lay them out to dry in the sun, and then they would put them in boxes or crates and then wait for the ship to come out so they would load them onto the ship.”

“A stranger happened to stop by these islands,” Mariano recounts. “He was probably a captain of one of O’Keefe’s ships—and he came ashore on Asor. When the boat got ashore, there were kids swimming, and this young girl Leraw was among them. So he took this girl back to the ship and they sailed on. This was probably before that girl had reached puberty. And they sailed away for some time."


Sea Cucumber

One species of sea cucumber at Ulithi.


Asor Men's House

The Men's House on Asor.


“When he returned the girl back to Asor, that girl was a little older, and he left the girl on Asor and sailed away again. That time, the local relatives of that girl, they made a plan to stop the girl from marrying this captain. Somehow they got Leraw to stay with this other man from Asor. So when the captain returned, the girl was pregnant. So he couldn’t take her. So Leraw stayed back on Asor and delivered a son by the name of Giigimwar.

“Somehow, later on when Giigimwar was older, he traveled, and he ended up in the Marshall Islands. He stayed in the Marshalls for the rest of his life, I think. Giigimwar has descendants on the Marshalls. But that’s how they stopped the captain from marrying that girl."



“1914, that’s the time Germans moved away from Micronesia,” Manuel says, “and the Japanese came, until 1945.

"What was it like with Japanese times? Well, sometime good, sometime bad. The Japanese took some of us to Angaur, for working the phosphate, and also to Fais island for the phosphate. Only a few people were left here, all men."



"Sometime we’d go fishing for the community, everybody who’s left over here, and when we’d come back, we’d divide those fish among everybody, because some families, they didn’t have their husband or their father because they’re away outside, working for Japanese government.

“Sometimes they brought in Koreans, Okinawans. There were only a few modern houses, just for a weather station on Asor island."




A terra-cotta hibachi, about six inches (15 cm) in diameter. Hot coals went in the bottom, and a pot–or possibly a grate, on the three nubs—went on top. Imeongs Collection, Yap.


Japanese pots

Two different kinds of Japanese containers, the white one for sake. Imeongs Collection, Yap.


“They were not doing much out here. They only came out to look for sea cucumber and they even made salted turtles, take the shell. They hired people to make copra, so that’s all they came out here to do. The only ones that lived out here were the ones that looked for the sea cucumber. But the copra ones, they’d come maybe one month, then take the copra back to Yap.”

“They were the ones who planted trochus here in the island,” Mariano adds. “And they came because of the sea cucumber, but with the scatter of these islands, they didn’t really get into that. In Palau, yes. In these islands, especially in Yap, they got into that type of business on a very small scale.

"Of course they did cannery and smoked fish, but not here. So mainly the business was copra."



"But the Japanese owned all the islands, so they owned all the copra. Owned it all, the Japanese."

our attention turns to the Society living on Ulithi during this time.



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