Am 06. November 2014 wurde in Freemamtle, WA, die Ausstellung
"The Last Gentlemen of War"
mit einem feierlichen Festakt für geladene Gäste eröffnet.
Neun Angehörige der Emdenfamilie konnten an diesem Festakt teilnehmen, bevor sie am nächsten Morgen nach Cocos (Keeling) Island aufbrachen.
In seiner Festansprache zur Eröffnung würdigte das Oberhaupt der Emdenfamilie besonders die ritterliche Kriegsführung der SMS EMDEN, die ihr internationale Hochachtung und den Beinamen "Gentleman of War" brachte:
Dignitaries, Ladies and gentlemen, and distinguished guests,
It is my great honour and privilege to be here to speak to you today, being invited to open the exhibition.
And it is also a great privilege for the members of the Emden family, the descendants of the SMS EMDEN crew, to be here in commemoration of the Battle of Cocos. The infamous battle our grandfathers fought between the two ships HMAS SYDNEY and SMS EMDEN, which took place on November 9th 1914, exactly 100 years ago.
First of all I would like to thank you so much for giving me this unique opportunity, and to express my appreciation to Alec Coles, James Dexter and Michael Gregg.
Ladies and Gentlemen, now, 100 years after the Battle of Cocos and nearly 70 years after the end of the Second World War our world unfortunately is not completely at peace, currently there are many conflicts taking place in our world driven by hate, greed and terrorism.
On the other hand, the topics of pacifism, militarism, ethical questions about defence forces are in all our media.
It is the title of this exhibition which should intrigue people: “Gentleman” and “War”, how is it possible that these two words fit together in one expression?
To answer this question let us first take a short look into history, as history is means for orientation of where we come from , where we are now, where we might go to in the future and how we can shape the future.
When war broke out in Europe of 1914 SMS EMDEN had served in Far East for 4 years, her homeport was Kiautschou, China. She was together with ships from UK, Russia, America and a variety of other nations. Their crews took excursions together, partied together, played sports together - and ultimately formed friendships. None of EMDEN crew contemplated the possibility of war, but when it became a reality they followed the rule of the Kaiser and the national politics with loyalty and patriotism which was the spirit of the times. Surely it was not easy for them to face their friends as opponents but emotionally they did not regard them as enemies, and this was what ruled their coming actions: Captain Karl von Mueller and his crew treated them with fairness, left them with their human dignity and military honour. The crews of captured ships were shown respect.
They avoided victims: No crew of the 26 captured merchant ships lost a single life. The Captain of SMS EMDEN, Karl von Müller, was held in high regard both in our country and throughout the world. The ship and her crew became myth and legend.
This way of treating adversaries made SMS EMDEN well known all over the world as the “Gentleman of War”. And this is exactly why the two words fit well together in one expression.
Today this expression is a fitting reminder to all of us - it is one worth remembering with the adversity we face around the world.
Should our grandfathers see us here today I’m sure they would be very proud of us and be happy in the knowledge that the people of Australia and the people of Germany are not only partners but close friends.
May this exhibition attract many people to learn more about the first victory of the Australian Navy, about the Battle of Cocos, and the way the SMS EMDEN and our grandfathers earned the nickname “Gentlemen of War”
I wish the exhibition all the best and a country-wide successwhich is given by many visitors.