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36.000 x 28.000 x 0.750 inches
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La Crete-a-pierrot And The Panther
Painting - Oil On Canvas
My illustration-documentary painting will elucidate the controversy about the Haitian patrol boat “La Crete-a-Pierrot” and the German Warship “The Panther”.
The Panther is not to be confused with the “SMS Panther” which is a ship of the Austro-Hungarian Navy.
According to the Historian, Fleurimond Kerns, in 1902, there was political struggle going on in Haiti. After the precipitous departure of President Tiseris Simon Sam in power from 1896 to 1902, two Haitian politicians: the provisional president, Nord Alexis, and Antenor Firmin were battling over taking power in Port-au-Prince. At the same time, both U.S. and Germany were deploying naval squadrons in the Caribbean. The U.S. was trying to build the Panama Canal to link its pacific coast to the Eastern Seaboard and further penetrate into Latin America. What was Germany’s interest in the Caribbean? Germany, an imperialist latecomer, was aggressively pursuing its interest in Haiti because its interest was restricted in other colonized parts of the world. Germany wanted to project its military power to reinforce its commercial and financial push into Haiti.
On September 6, 1902, Germany jumped into the Haitian power struggle. They backed up the leader Nord Alexis, while Admiral Killick who was commanding the patrol ship La Crete-a-Pierrot, favored Antenor Firmin. Consequently, La Crete-a-Pierrot confiscated a German ship, “Marcomania”, which was destined to give munitions (weapons, guns, arms, powdered munitions, etc) to Nord Alexis. Admiral Killick seized the munitions and placed them in his patrol boat, La Crete-a-Pierrot. The provisional Haitian government of Nord Alexis ordered another German warship, The Panther, to seize La Crete-a-Pierrot. When the German warship, The Panther, appeared at the roadstead of the city (near Gonaives, a town near Port-au-Prince), Admiral Killick, who was ashore, hurried on board of La Crete-a-Pierrot, and ordered his whole crew to abandon the ship. The Germans did not understand this maneuver. Admiral killick was with Dr Coles who also did not want to leave the ship. Admiral Killick wrapped himself with the Haitian flag, like Captain Laporte in 1803, and blew La Crete a Pierrot up by firing into the powdered munitions. By doing so, he denied the Germans possession of the Haitian ship, La Crete-a-Pierrot, and the seized German munitions on board. That was a great loss for the Germans. According to one German crewman, Killick came close to blowing up the Panther also. There is a postcard written by a German crewman who presented one account of the battle; one can verify: http:earthlink.net/~rlcw/p1.htm. See the postcard content, in the references below.
Let’s suppose The Panther had blown up La Crete-a-Pierrot. One has to ask oneself the question: How would the United States view this action in the context of the Monroe Doctrine?
Let’s analyze the Monroe Doctrine:
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the U.S. introduced on December 2, 1823. The U.S. President James Monroe first stated the doctrine during his seventh annual state of the union address to Congress. According to the doctrine, the New World (Americas, Oceania) which is composed entirely of separate independent Nations, and the Old World (Europe, Asia, Africa) were to remain distinctly separate spheres of influence.
Monroe Doctrine enforces the Neutrality of the Seas; that is the air, the seas were common property of all men. The Germans, have the right to be on the Caribbean Sea just like the Americans.
The Monroe Doctrine states that further efforts by European Nations to colonize land or interfere (I repeat), interfere in states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention. According to the doctrine “No European power would move in.”
It is stated that The Panther had fired on La Crete-a-Pierrot provoking its sinking at the entrance of the harbor of Gonaives. The U.S. State Department at this time endorsed the German’s action, and the New York Times declared that “German was quite within her rights in doing a little housecleaning on her own account.”
If this is not an obvious interference in Haiti’s affair, which is a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, what is it? Or should one say that double standard is at play. This will make it acceptable for the German to destroy La Crete-a-Pierrot, or there was no strike from the German part, at all. The disinformation suits the German because it serves as a cover-up for what really happened.
This informative historic piece is of limited knowledge and has been distorted, muffled, maneuvered, rearranged, transformed, and hidden behind a wall of lies and silence. It has been erroneously reported in High School textbooks in the U.S. that the blowing of La Crete a Pierrot was orchestrated by The Panther. Why so? Simply because, U.S. historians do not easily report history of resistance in Haiti.
The fact is- the German sailors did not understand why Killick was ordering his crew to leave the ship. They did not understand why Killick was wrapping himself up with the Haitian flag; by seeing him blowing the ship up, the German sailors did not even dream of such a heroic act!
For us, Haitians, it was and remains a heroic patriotic act. This is an outstanding example of the Haitian resistance; this time against German aggressions.
This is also an outstanding example of how seriously Haitians took the slogan, “Liberte’ ou la Mort”, “Liberty or Death”. The motto had been embraced at the “Ceremony of Bwa Kayiman”. It was also reinforced during the “Oath of the Ancestors”, when the Haitian flag was created on May 18, 1804.
------Haiti a Slave Revolution- Birth of the flag.
------The New York Times-Published September 8, 1902.
------Haitian History: What U.S. textbooks don’t tell. By Greg Dunkel, Haiti Progres, This Week in Haiti, Vol.21 no.27, 17–23 September 2003 (Haïti-Progrès, May 18, 2003)
------Postcard written by German crewman – Posted Sept 10, 2004:
and the SMS Panther
The Post Card
In September 1902 the Haitian armoured cruiser Crete-a-Pierrot captured a German vessel carrying arms during a civil war in Haiti. The subsequent battle between the Crete-a-Pierrot and the SMS Panther was widely reported. This card presents one account of the battle.
Port au Prince, September 18th, 1902 on Haiti
Here you see that one has not completely forgotten one's old acquaintance at home. Immediately after the arrival our 'Panter' has been honoured with an 'extraordinary' order (from highest position the outcome of which was the complete destruction of the 'Faustian' armoured cruiser Crete a Perrot. This result will be - of course - well known to you from the newspapers. We really were lucky, easily it could have been the opposite. In case you read interesting things about our Panter in the major newspapers, please inform my dear family at home. The messages sent from here take such an awful long time. Now I hope to receive a whole sack full of news from you.
My hearty regards to you and your dear parents from e.v.N.
The statement "We really were lucky, easily it could have been the opposite" seems misleading. The 'Panter' was a major German gunboat. Was the outcome of the battle between Crete a Perrot and 'Panter' ever in question?
Civil War in Haiti ~ 1902
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March 10th, 2012
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