Völkerschau in Frankfurt Zoo (1891)


Völkerschauen (or human zoos) were extremely popular around 1900. They shored up the self-image of colonial rulers by forcibly recasting people from colonized countries into an exotic form that served the colonizer’s imagination. This poster advertised a Völkerschau at the Frankfurt Zoo in 1891. The venue, a zoo, was well suited for projections of nature and danger but also of German control. The female warriors were marked as deviant and dangerous through their wild eyes and aggressive facial expressions, their forward-leaning stances and their weapons. The headline reads: “The Amazon Corps under the leadership of the chief warrior woman Gumma.”


Source: C08071, Adolph Friedländer, poster “The Amazon Corps under the leadership of the Chief Warrior Woman Gumma,” ethnology, advertising, Frankfurt am Main, before 1890, print, color lithograph.

This image is included in David Ciarlo, Advertising Empire. Race and Visual Culture in Imperial Germany. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011, plate 8, pp. 212ff.

© Historisches Museum Frankfurt, photographer: Horst Ziegenfusz

Nina Berman, Klaus Mühlhahn, and Alain Patrice Nganang, eds., German Colonialism Revisited: African, Asian, and Oceanic Experiences. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2018.

Sara Friedrichsmeyer, Sara Lennox, and Susanne Zantop, eds., German Colonialism and its Legacies. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1998, pp. 107–24.

Bradley Naranch and Geoff Eley, eds., German Colonialism in a Global Age. Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 2014.

Michael Perraudin, Jürgen Zimmerer, and Kate Heady, eds, German Colonialism and National Identity. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Völkerschau in Frankfurt Zoo (1891), published in: German History Intersections, <https://germanhistory-intersections.org/en/germanness/ghis:image-202> [December 01, 2023].