Insights into the History of the Collection
Dr. Anton Lübbert
Dr. Anton Lübbert was born in Silesia and came to Freiburg to study medicine, where he received his doctorate in 1883. Initially working as a medical duty officer in Würzburg (1885– 86), he eventually became a staff surgeon at the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy for military education in Berlin. He worked in the laboratory of operational hygiene (1889–1891). Until 1895, Dr. Lübbert was the director of the chemical laboratory of hygiene in Dresden, which had been provided by the War Ministry. In 1895, he concluded his post-doctoral at the University of Breslau research in the field of hygiene and was employed as a lecturer there from 1896 for a year.
Lübbert worked within the colonial service from 1 April 1897, rising to the rank of chief medical staff officer and senior physician in Windhoek in German South West Africa (present-day Namibia). He left the colonial service in 1902 and moved to Hamburg, where he worked as an assistant at the Institute of Hygiene. His exact birth and death dates are unknown.
Lübbert in German South West Africa
As a chief medical staff officer in the German colony of German South West Africa (today Namibia), Lübbert worked on combating malaria and the spread of rinderpest. In addition to his professional activities, he also wrote for colonial journals. In a travelogue from 1900 about the north of the country, he chronicles his efforts to contain plagues of mosquitos and to contain malaria infections. Lübbert also used his travels to collect natural history and ethnological objects, which he donated to various German museums and botanical gardens. He also studied local healing methods, especially the Herero use of snake venom. In an article published in 1901, he not only described indigenous healing techniques, but also fundamental concepts and ideas regarding death and illness among the local people, as well as sacrificial and burial rituals. There is no record documenting the background details about his reasons for retiring form his work and leaving the colony in 1902.
The name of Chief Medical Officer Lübbert from Windhoek in German South West Africa (present-day Namibia) was immortalised on the roll of honour for 1900.
In the year prior to that, Lübbert had addressed a letter to the directors of the museum announcing the arrival of a collection from the African colony. He explained that his interest in the Freiburg museum was down to Major Theodor Leutwein, who also saw service in German South West Africa. Lübbert's list of objects with fifty ethnographic artefacts indicates that he was at pains to put together a complete collection of the clothing of the indigenous Damara and the Herereo ethnic groups. There is no documentary record of how Lübbert acquired the objects in Africa. The Lübbert Collection and the Leutwein Collection both arrived in Freiburg in April 1900. Hugo Ficke valued the Lübbert donation at 400 marks. Today fourteen objects in the Ethnological Collection are assigned to Lübbert.