200 years of Germans in Singapore – for the first time, the economic, political and cultural ties between Germany and Singapore are explored from their beginnings in 1822 to the present day. And yet this is not a book of history, but a book full of stories that trace the growth of a friendship between two nations.

“The story of the relations between Germany and Singapore is like an opera: triumph and tragedy, joy and sorrow, but with a happy ending.”

Tommy Koh, Ambassador-at-large at the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Germans, Singaporeans and Britons sitting together and celebrating at a garden party in Government House, 1932.


A book full of stories

Yesterday | Today

The history of the Germans in Singapore began in this street corner: where the Medical Office stood in 1908, and Claudius Henry Thomsen, Singapore’s first German immigrant, had built his Missionary Chapel in 1822. Immediately after Thomsen’s arrival in Singapore, he had a building constructed at the corner of Bras Basah Road and North Bridge Road – a bustling junction these days – which was to serve him as residence, schoolhouse and chapel.

Today, the Raffles Hotel stands here.

Friendship | Trust

Germany sent a very special kind of ambassador to the tropics: Sheba the polar bear. Cologne zoo had sent her to Singapore in 1978, at four months old. On Boxing Day in 1990, in Singapore Zoo, Sheba gave birth to Inuka, the first ‘tropical polar bear’. The Singaporeans adored her.

Orange juice and champagne: the two presidents Halimah Yacob and Frank-Walter Steinmeier before the 2019 State Banquet at Bellevue Palace.

Springboard | Location

Springboard | Location

The emerging market of Southeast Asia, as business leaders in Munich, Düsseldorf and Stuttgart saw it, would be conquered from here. Managers in those years did not yet have China or even India in their crosshairs; until the Asian financial crisis starting in 1997, it was the smaller ‘tiger economies’ that attracted interest. And Singapore was the springboard from which to reach them.

All managers emphasise the close ties between countries and continents. In 2020, BASF laid the foundation stone for its crop protection centre in Singapore.

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