History of the Consulate GeneralEnlarge image (© GK Kalkutta)
In 1851 the King of the German State of Prussia established an Honorary Consulate for British India in Calcutta. In 1857 the Honorary Consulate came under the North German Federation, the authority responsible for the foreign relations of the German states. In 1871 with the creation of the German Empire ("Reich") the Honorary Consulate in Calcutta became a mission of the German Empire. At that time, the Bengal Presidency and the Province of Audh, including the native states in this area were made up its consular district.
In 1885, with Germany's overseas interests increasing over time, the Empire established a Consulate General, staffed with German career diplomats, in Calcutta. Since Calcutta was the capital and business centre of India, the Consulate General became Germany's official mission (de facto embassy) for British India and Ceylon. The Honorary Consulate, which continued, retained the limited function of representing the interests of the local German business community vis-à-vis the British business community and its civic organizations in Calcutta.
Every year, from March through October, the German Consul General would follow the viceroy and his government to Simla. When the capital of British India was shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1912, after the coronation of King George V, the German Consulate General, however, remained in Calcutta.
At the outbreak of World War I, when Britain was at war with Germany, the Consulate General was closed. Only three years after the end of World War I, in September 1921, permission was granted to reestablish the Consulate General in Calcutta.
Although Calcutta was no longer the capital of British India, the task of the Consulate General remained the same - to observe and report on the political situation and the economic development of India as a whole.
From 1929 onwards therefore, the German Mission in Calcutta was named ‘German Consulate General for British India’, and its consular district encompassed all of India except the area covered by the Consulate in Bombay, whose consular district was increased in 1936 to include Chandernagore, Pondichérry, Mahé, Karikal and Yanaon.
After the World War II, a Consulate was again established in Calcutta on 20 March 1954. Its status was elevated to Consulate General in September of that year.
Today the consular district of this Consulate General consists of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and the North-East States (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura) an area of approximately 674000 km², with a population of 280 million.
The Consulate General is located in a 1903 mansion in Alipore (Hastings Park Road), which the German government bought in 1971. Earlier, office space had always been rented, necessitating frequent and inconvenient moves, whenever the lease ran out.