Angela Kobelt

Angela Kobelt is a theater maker, production manager and educator. Her work focuses on performing arts in public spaces, performative audio walks and multimedia spectacles. As a founding and board member of Kulturkosmos Leipzig e. V., she has become an expert in leading multidisciplinary teams over the years.


She is passionate about history, especially that of the 19th and early 20th centuries. A major focus of her interest is economic history and the interrelationships between business and society.


Kobelt holds master’s degrees in theater studies, education and literature. She is also a trained financial accountant.

Angela Kobelt


To the files


A virtual journey to the files of the Imperial Colonial Office in Berlin.


The “Colonial Exhibition” – this was an attraction of STIGA, which was particularly advertised and y received a lot of public attention. One component was the “African Village.” To give it a semblance of authenticity, 50 people had been recruited in the colony of German East Africa. 46 of this men and women returned home at the end of 1897. Four of them died on their journey. The organizator of the “African Village” and “Colonial Exhibition” was a company named: “Deutsch Ostafrikanische-Ausstellung G.m.b.H.”


This firm had been founded by a former colonial officer who had served in the territory of today’s Tanzania, Lieutenant (ret.) Karl Blümcke. After his return to Germany he tried his luck as a businessman. He had found a solvent financier in the Leipzig banking house H. C. Plaut, which provided the necessary start-up capital for the company.


However, Blümcke’s business idea required not only equity capital, but also political support. For his exhibition, he needed the approval of the Imperial Colonial Office in Berlin and the German governorate in Zanzibar. Without the consent of these two institutions, he would not have been able to bring 50 Black women and men from Africa to Europe.


Not only for this reason Blümcke wrote a letter to the Imperial Colonial Office in Berlin in October 1896. A lively correspondence began, which resulted in numerous other letters and memos.


This correspondence has been archived and is also digitally available. The files contain a great deal of information on the “business model” of the colonial exhibition. Lieutenant Blümcke, various officials as well as representatives of the banking house write to each other about organizational and economic issues. In these letters – and between the lines – they also show the driving forces which determine their thoughts and actions.


The old handwriting in the files is difficult to read. It takes a lot of time and patience to decipher everything.


One focus of my work is to make this slow process of deciphering, transcribing, and researching comprehensible to others. I would also like to show my handling of unreadable or unsolvable text passages.


A second focus is on the content and on the questions that arise when reading the files: What is being written here? How is negotiation done here? What economic considerations and capitalist constraints guide the actions of the exhibition maker? How are people turned into economic assets? What role do racist ideologies play when it comes to economic issues like balance sheets, profit and loss?