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Hamburg America Line


Hamburg America Line

Hamburg America Line
Native name
Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft
Industry shipping
Successor merged with longtime rival Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) of Bremen to become Hapag-Lloyd (owned by the corporation TUI AG)
Founded 1847
Founder Albert Ballin (Director General), Adolph Godeffroy, Ferdinand Laeisz, Carl Woermann and August Bolten
Headquarters Hamburg, Germany

The Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG for short, often referred to in English as Hamburg America Line (sometimes also Hamburg-American Line, Hamburg-Amerika Linie or Hamburg Line); literally Hamburg American Packet-shipping Joint-stock company) was a transatlantic shipping enterprise established in Hamburg, Germany, in 1847. Among the founders were prominent citizens such as Albert Ballin (Director General), Adolph Godeffroy, Ferdinand Laeisz, Carl Woermann, August Bolten and others, and its main financial backers were Berenberg Bank and H. J. Merck & Co. It soon developed into the largest German, and at times the world's largest, shipping company, serving the market created by the German immigration to the United States and later immigration from Eastern Europe. On September 1, 1970, after 123 years of independent existence, HAPAG merged with the Bremen-based North German Lloyd to form Hapag-Lloyd AG.


  • Ports served 1
  • Notable journeys 2
  • Later years 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Ports served

A postcard of the view from the water of the Hamburg-American Steamship Lines docks in Hoboken, New Jersey, in about 1910.

In the early years, the Hamburg America Line exclusively connected European ports with North American ports, such as Hoboken, New Jersey, or New Orleans, Louisiana. With time, however, the company established lines to all continents. The company built a large ocean liner terminal at Cuxhaven, Germany, in 1900. Connected directly to Hamburg by a dedicated railway line and station, the HAPAG Terminal at Cuxhaven served as the major departure point for German and European immigrants to North America until 1969 when ocean liner travel ceased. Today it serves as a museum and cruise ship terminal.[1]

Notable journeys

In 1858, its liner Austria sank, killing 449 people. In 1891, the cruise of the Augusta Victoria in the Mediterranean and the Near East from 22 January to 22 March, with 241 passengers including Albert Ballin and wife, is often stated to have been the first passenger cruise. Christian Wilhelm Allers published an illustrated account of it as "Bakschisch". In 1900, 1901 and 1903 its liner Deutschland won the Blue Riband taking the prize from the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. In 1906 Prinzessin Victoria Luise ran aground off the coast of Jamaica. No lives were lost by the grounding; however, the ship's captain committed suicide after getting all the passengers safely off the ship. .[2] In 1912, its liner SS Amerika was the first ship to warn Titanic of icebergs.

HAPAG's leader Albert Ballin, believed that safety, size, comfort and luxury would always win out over speed. Thus he conceived the three largest liners yet to be built, named the Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck. The first two were briefly in service before the First World War. In 1914, the Vaterland was caught in port at Hoboken, New Jersey at the outbreak of World War I and interned by the United States. She was seized, renamed Leviathan after the declaration of war on Germany in 1917, and served for the duration and beyond as a troopship. After the war, she was retained by the Americans for war reparations. In 1919 Vaterland's sister ships —Imperator and the unfinished Bismarck—were handed over to the allies as war reparations to Britain and sold to Cunard Line and White Star Line, respectively, and renamed Berengaria and Majestic. In 1917, its liner Allemannia was "torpedoed by German submarine near Alicante"; 2 people were lost.[3] In 1939, its liner St. Louis was unable to find a port in Cuba, the United States, or Canada willing to accept the more than 950 Jewish refugees on board and had to return to Europe. On April 9 1940, while German warships attacked Kristiansand, Norway, arrived freighter MS Seattle of HAPAG into the crossfire between German attacking warships and Norwegian coastal artillery. She was shot in fire and sank and her crew were briefly prisoners of war.

Later years

Hamburg America Line lost almost the entirety of its fleet twice, as a result of World War I and World War II. In 1970, the company merged with longtime rival Norddeutscher Lloyd (North German Lloyd) of Bremen to establish the current-day Hapag-Lloyd.

See also


  1. ^ Hapag Halle Museum Cuxhaven
  2. ^ "Daily Event for December 16". 
  3. ^ "S/S Allemannia (3), Hamburg America Line". Norway-Heritage. Retrieved 2012-05-21. 

External links

  • Fleet information (German)
  • The history of the Hamburg-America Line
  • Historic photos of Hoboken and Hamburg America Line ports
  • Passenger Lists from the Hamburg-Amerika Linie
  • Hamburg-Amerika Line ships This collection contains 16 photographs depicting ship interior and exterior views of Hamburg-Amerika Line's luxury passenger ships Augusta Victoria, Columbia and Normannia by Louis Koch, Bremen
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