SS Deutschland (1923)

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SS Deutschland (1923).jpg
The SS Deutschland
Weimar Republic
NameSS Deutschland
OwnerHamburg-America Line
Port of registryGermany
RouteHamburg to New York
BuilderBlohm & Voss, Kommandit Ges auf Aktien, Hamburg, Germany
Launched28 April 1923
Maiden voyage27 March 1924
HomeportHamburg, Germany
FateTransferred to the Kriegsmarine in 1940.
  • Paintwork:
  • black hull
  • red boot-topping
  • upper works white
  • funnels buff with red, white and black tops
Nazi Germany
NameSS Deutschland
FateCapsized and sank on 3 May 1945 as a result of a British air attack.
General characteristics
TypeOcean liner
Tonnage21,046 gross register tons
Length196.6 m overall
Beam22 m
Depth12.8 m
Installed power8 steam turbines
PropulsionTwin screw
Speed20 knots
Complement976 passengers
Crew422 officers and crew

SS Deutschland[note 1] was a 21,046 gross registered ton (GRT) German HAPAG ocean liner which was sunk in a British air attack on May 3, 1945. Before the sinking, between April 16 and 28 1945, the concentration camp of Neuengamme was systematically emptied of all its remaining prisoners, other groups of concentration camp inmates and Soviet POWs; with the intention that they would be relocated to a secret new camp. In the interim, they were to be concealed from the advancing British and Canadian forces; and for this purpose the SS assembled a prison flotilla of decommissioned ships in the Bay of Lübeck, consisting of the liners Cap Arcona and Deutschland, the freighter Thielbek, and the motor launch Athen [de]. Since the steering motors were out of use in Thielbek and the turbines were out of use in Cap Arcona, Athen was used to transfer prisoners from Lübeck to the larger ships and between ships;[14] they were locked below decks and in the holds, and denied food and medical attention[citation needed]. All people on board the Deutschland survived the attack, though two accompanying vessels sank with great loss of life.


One of a group of four ships that included the SS Albert Ballin, SS Hamburg, and SS New York, the Deutschland was launched on 28 April 1923. She began her maiden voyage on 27 March 1924, to Southampton and then on to New York City. The turbine-powered ship had a speed of 14.5 knots; she was later re-engined with larger-geared turbines in 1929, with service speed increased to 19 knots. This gave the ship a seven-day passage across the Atlantic.

On 11 November 1933, Deutschland collided with the American cargo ship SS Munargo in New York Harbor. Munargo suffered severe damage and was beached north of Bedloe's Island,[1] but was refloated on 18 November 1933.[2]

Second World War[edit]

In 1940, Deutschland became an accommodation ship for the German Navy at Gotenhafen. In 1945, on seven Baltic voyages as part of Operation Hannibal, she carried 70,000 refugees from the German eastern territories to the west.


In April 1945, she began being converted into a hospital ship. An attempt was made to paint the vessel white, but there was only sufficient paint available to paint her funnels white, and to paint a Red Cross on one side of one of her funnels. During the first days of May 1945, thousands of concentration camp inmates were locked below decks and in the holds, and denied food and medical attention[citation needed].All people on board the Deutschland survived the attack, though two accompanying vessels sank with great loss of life.Subsequently, on 3 May 1945, she was attacked by British RAF squadrons three times, and capsized and sank in the Bay of Lübeck off Neustadt, but everyone aboard survived. A fourth British air attack that day sank the SS Cap Arcona and the Thielbek, with great loss of life.[3][4]

In 1949, the wreck was raised and scrapped.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sometimes called Deutschland IV to distinguish from others of the name


  1. ^ "Casualty reports". The Times. No. 46606. London. 20 November 1933. col G, p. 19.
  2. ^ "Casualty reports". The Times. No. 46607. London. 21 November 1933. col F, p. 23.
  3. ^ Roy Nesbit: Cap Arcona: atrocity or accident?, Aeroplane Monthly, June 1984.
  4. ^ Heinz Schön: Die Cap Arcona-Katastrophe. Eine Dokumentation nach Augenzeugen-Berichten. Motorbuch-Verlag, Stuttgart 1989, ISBN 3-613-01270-7."