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Using the Internet to Document Postcards

June 26th, 2007 · No Comments

When documenting antique postcards, it’s important not to overlook the Internet and its many resources. An example of successful use of this resource occurred recently when we documented a vintage postcard with unusual subject matter with which we were not very familiar: the German Imperial Army and, specifically, the role of black soldiers from Africa in it. All we had to go on when we started was that the old postcard was postmarked in 1914 in Potsdam, Germany.

African Ben Aisse, German Imperial Army Postcard

As the story unfolded as we followed Internet links regarding Kaiser Wilhelm’s Army, we learned that this black soldier was one of only about six African soldiers serving in the German Imperial Army who were well documented in vintage postcard form, excluding real-photo postcard (RPPC) battle scenes. Ben Aisse, one of the lesser known of the six black soldiers, was a handsome Moroccan whose full name was Ben Aisse Miloud Ould Allal. In this scarce military postcard with great graphics, he poses proudly as the standard bearer of the 1st Guard Regiment in the Kaiser’s Army. Born in Zellara-Oudja, Morocco, Aisse was spotted by the Kaiser on a visit to Tangiers in 1905. Aisse, then 18, led the Kaiser part of the way through the city on horseback, impressing the Kaiser. It’s said that the Kaiser was also impressed by Aisse’s height of 6 feet, 2 inches.

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany

In 1906, the Kaiser invited Aisse to Potsdam. Upon a return visit to Potsdam in 1907, Aisse enrolled in the 1. Garde Regiment zu Fuss (First Guard Regiment on foot) as a standard bearer, as seen above in the nicely detailed German postcard, which has excellent contrast and great clarity. By 1913, he was an NCO in this famous regiment. While he stayed back with the replacement battalion of his regiment with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he later joined the Asienkorps (Asian Corps) and served on the Palestinian front in 1917-18. He returned to his regiment’s depot in December 1918, was demobilized in 1919, and then returned home to Tangiers, having served 12 years in the Kaiser’s Army. This is the last we hear of Aisse.

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