History of the Consulate General

GK Kalkutta Enlarge 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. 

Rabindranath Tagore in Germany in 1926

Bengal and Germany: Some Aspects of Political, Economic and Intellectual Encounter

Two towering personalities of Bengal developed very deep emotional contacts with the German people...  

History of the Consulate General

GK Kalkutta

List of previous locations of the Consulate General

1896         7 Loudon Street
1905         3 Auckland Place 
                 (later 6 Auckland Square)
1910         Yates Cottage
1911         16 Store Road
1914         24 Park Street
1922         2 Store Road, Ballygunge
1929         3 Lansdowne Road
1934         26 Lee Road
1954         Burlow House, Chowringhee
1959         Ilaco House, Brabourne Road
1971 -         1 Hastings Park Road, Alipore

Consuls General after Independence

1954 – 1957        Dr. Leopold Krafft
                           von Dellmensingen
1958 – 1961        Klaus Curtius
1962 – 1964        Dr. Hans Ruete
1964 – 1969        Edgar von Randow
1969 – 1970        Dr. Wilhelm Kopf
1970 – 1971        Dr. Ruprecht Rauch
1971 – 1975        Dr. Hans-Ferdinand
1975 – 1978        Wilfried von Eichborn
1978 – 1982        Dr. Werner Handke
1983 – 1986        Harald Busse
1986 – 1989        Claus Sönksen
1989 – 1991        Dr. Richard Giesen
1991 – 1996        Dr. Hans Peter Plischka
1996 – 1999        Dr. Hans Petersmann
1999 – 2002        Wolfgang Seiwert
2002 – 2005        Erhard Zander
2005 – 2010        Günter Wehrmann
2011 – 2015        Rainer Schmiedchen
2015 – 2017        Olaf Iversen

2017 -                 Dr. Michael Feiner

Information on German translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s works can be found in the following website of renowned Indologist Martin Kämpchen: http://www.martin-kaempchen.de