Dragutin Lerman was born on the 24th of August, 1863 and died on the 12th of July, 1918. He was born in Požega, Slavonia. Growing up with a big family, he had to take care of himself and ended his first junior high school to study at Karlovac where he continued his school while working. Dragutin Lerman was a member of the famous Henry Morton Stanley Expedition that explored the Congo. He was a famous Croatian researcher and his dedication for explorations and new discoveries made him the vessel’s most trusted men.
Dragutin’s endless navigation spirit helped him gain strong ties with Léopold II, who was at that time the King of Belgians and the representative of the Belgian government inCongo. He was awarded with a Star of Merit and became a knight of the royal order of the lion. His first navigation lasted for three years, while the second took for two years. The different cruise that he made later served as a way for him to learn several foreign languages. Furthermore, his voyage in Congo during 1882 made him discovered the huge waterfalls on Kouilou River named today as Zrinski chutes as an honor to the Zrinski family who was a national family from his native country.
Dragutin Lerman has brought home 493 artifacts containing primitive arts like horns of ivory and figurative crucifix that were later donated to the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb. He went along with Napoleon Luksic who is a naval officer from Karlovac. Their navigation made them learn indigenous dialects and gain a tough alliance with the African tribal chiefs. Lerman also went to the jungles of Africa for about 3000 days and regularly wrote his daily observations on a diary
Lerman was a writer during his voyage and published two of his diaries. His friend Julius Pozega Kempf published the Dnevnik iz Afrike (Diary from Africa) in 1891 from Požega whom he informed about the progress of his expedition. His second book was published later in 1894 with the title New Diary from Africa (Novidnevnik Afrike). These diaries were a description of the life and customs of African tribes. Moreover, the original diaries were later kept in the archives of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Likewise, his rich collection of tools, weapons and household items were collected in Ethnographic Museum.
Dragutin Lerman lived in Congo for at least 12 years and worked as a director of the People’s Bank in Požega. Just before the star of World War I, he went to a town and a municipality in Bosnia named Kreševo where he worked. He died at the age of 55 due to malaria and of topical fever. He was buried under kreševo in accordance to his own wishes.
The masterpiece of Dragutin Lerman is compiled today in the museum. His works served as an art review of the best original African culture. Many are overwhelmed about his dedication and passion for navigating the African valleys that paid out worthwhile discoveries for the country until today. Today, he is one of the famous person remembered for his prolific breakthroughs of maps and navigation.