WWI German Warship ‘Emden’ Attack On Madras, 1914 Postcard

WWI German Warship 'Emden' Attack On Madras, 1914 Postcard

A 1914 postcard of a painting showing the German warship ‘Emden’ attack on Madras (Chennai). It shows the German ship attacking and sinking a British warship off the coast of Madras. The Emden was the terror of the seas. They first attacked the city of Madras on the night of September 22, 1914, in WWI. Inflicting considerable damage to the city’s infrastructure like buildings, oil tankers, harbour, etc.

More than the tangible damage was the panic it created among the city’s population. Which was exactly as anticipated by the German crew to intentionally create fear psychosis among the people. It had its desired effect, there was an exodus of people in a hurry to leave the city. The German’s agenda was to create maximum collateral damage and panic but with minimal civilian casualties.

The painting in this postcard shows the warship Emden with four smoke stacks instead of the three that normally come in German warships. The fourth smokestack was a dummy to fool the British into thinking that it was one of their ships. As the saying goes “All good things come to an end” in this case for the Germans. The Emden was cornered near Cocos Island and sunk by an Australian destroyer. The German crew were taken prisoners but later freed after World War I. It was the only time a German attacked the shores of British India either in WWI or WWII.

Did you know- it is believed the newspapers in Madras were censored by the Madras Presidency government so as not to heighten the paranoia or panic in an already distraught city. 

From the collection- Vintage Oleograph Raja Ravi Varma “Laxmi”., Newlyweds On Horse Drawn Temple – Old Photo 1900., Early Aviation, First Flight From England To India, 1918 Print., India Past And Present, Two Volumes, 1903 Books.