Tales of German technological failure

Here, with a flurry of thanks to the hermeneuticists of Bavaria, is the odd one out amongst tales of late nineteenth and early twentieth century German commercial activities in Iberia and the Maghreb:

One of the first German missions was that of Colonel von Conring to Marrakesh in about 1878 to present to Mulai Hassan some artillery pieces, telephones and various shoddy articles. The Sultan, with a bad grace, consented to watch a trial of the guns, but astonishingly for something put on by Germans, it was so badly organised that he left in the middle, refusing to watch any more. Probably they remembered the previous time that the Germans had brought a present. This was a machine for making ice which had exploded killing several bystanders and after that there was little faith in German products. The Colonel took his revenge by publishing a scandalous collection of anecdotes about Tangier and about the diplomatic corps. He had this miserable pamphlet translated into Spanish but it had little success…

This is from HMP de la Martinière’s Souvenirs (1919) and is quoted in Margaret and Robin Bidwell’s fantastic anthology, Morocco: the traveller’s companion.

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