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Adam and Eve in the Galapagos

Frederick Ritter's Historic Series of Newspaper Articles

by Frederick Ritter


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In 1929, a Nietzsche-obsessed doctor, Friedrich Ritter, left his wife and his German homeland to flee with his mistress, Dore Strauch, to Floreana, a deserted island in the Galapagos archipelago off the coast of Ecuador. The pair of humorless vegetarians had become disillusioned with society's constraints and obsession with wealth, so living off the land far away from civilization seemed like the right antidote. But news articles about the couple's escape, some of these unfortunately written by Ritter himself, gave other eccentrics the idea to follow. Ritter and Strauch were not amused when the German Wittmer family — Heinz, Margret (five months pregnant at the time) and their young son — crashed the couple's private party. The misanthropic Ritter was especially annoyed, and even told Margret he would offer no medical assistance in case of complications during childbirth. The Wittmers, who wanted to live like the Swiss Family Robinson, were in turn highly agitated about the arrival of another group led by an exhibitionist, self-proclaimed Viennese baroness Eloise von Wagner-Bosquet. She brought along not only her three lovers, but also plenty of media attention with her habit of dreaming up outrageous stories about herself and her neighbors on the island, which she fed to reporters. The grandiose Baroness soon acclaimed herself Empress of Floreana and appeared not averse to appropriating property of the other island residents as well as opening their mail. She sported a riding crop and an ivory handled pistol which she was fond of pointing at people who displeased her. She soon had the Wittmers as well as Friedrich and Dore very nervous of her and her armed entourage. The Baroness could be very charming and became something of an international celebrity, much to Ritter's distress as he had previously had the press limelight as the "Robinson Crusoe" of Floreana. In 1931, Frederick Ritter's important articles were published in the newspaper Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 148. You can read these historic stories here.

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