The Seedienst Ostpreussen or Sea Service East Prussia was a ferry connection between the German provinces of Pomerania and, later, Schleswig-Holstein and the German exclave of East Prussia from 1920 to 1939.
After the end of World War I Poland obtained access to the Baltic Sea by the Polish Corridor cutting off the direct connection between East Prussia and the rest of Weimar Germany. Throughout the East Prussian plebiscite in July 1920 Polish authorities tried to prevent traffic through the Corridor, interrupting any postal, telegraphic and telephonic communication. Due to these difficulties, which continued after the East Prussian Plebiscite ended with a significant German success, the German Ministry for Transport established the Seedienst Ostpreußen to provide a ferry connection to the German exclave of East Prussia which was not dependent on the transit through Polish territory.
Ships and routes
On January 30, 1920 the first HAPAG ship "Hörnum" travelled from Swinemünde to Pillau on behalf of the German Government. Other ships were provided by North German Lloyd and the Shipping Company Braeunlich. At first these ships left Swinemünde four times a week, later once a day in Summer and 4-5 times a week in Winter, also harbouring in Zoppot and Stolpmünde. The route subsequently expanded to Memel (Klaipėda) (1927) and Liepāja (1930) in Lithuania and Latvia respectively, and Lübeck-Travemünde (1933) and Kiel (1934) in Schleswig-Holstein. Due to the increasing distances the original ships were no longer able to meet the requirements of the route and in 1926 the "Preussen" (of Shipping Company Braeunlich) and the "Hansestadt Danzig" (of North German Lloyd) went into service, followed by "Tannenberg" (of HAPAG) in 1935. The projected "Marienburg" wasn't finished after the beginning of World War II, but completed in 1950 in Wismar as a reparation for the Soviet Union, later running as „Ленсовет" (Lensoviet) and „Абхазия" (Abchasia) on the Black Sea and ultimately scrapped in 1980 at Barcelona.
The Sea Service East Prussia was abandoned after the German Invasion of Poland in 1939 made it redundant.
- Claus Rothe: Deutsche Seebäderschiffe. 1830 bis 1939. In: Bibliothek der Schiffstypen. transpress Verlag für Verkehrswesen, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-344-00393-3
- Butler, Rohan, MA., Bury, J.P.T.,MA., & Lambert M.E., MA., editors, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919-1939, 1st Series, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1960, vol.x, Chapter VIII, "The Plebiscites in Allenstein and Marienwerder January 21 - September 29, 1920", p.726-7