IMMH

Special Exhibition

Extension of the special exhibition „HAMBURG SÜD – 150 years on the world’s oceans“ until 5 March 2023

The special exhibition „Hamburg Süd – 150 Years on the World’s Oceans“ will open at the International Maritime Museum Hamburg on the 150th anniversary of the company’s founding, namely on Thursday, November the 4th 2021. The eventful and exciting history of the Hamburg shipping company exemplifies all the developments of the modern merchant navy. The Maritime Museum presents the history of Hamburg Süd after processing the shipping company’s historical archives. Unique exhibits from all over the world have travelled to the Maritime Museum for the exhibition. The project is sponsored by Dr. August Oetker KG.

„Hamburg Süd – 150 Years on the World’s Oceans“

The History of Hamburg Süd

Here, the success story of Hamburg Süd as Germany’s second largest liner shipping company is told from its foundation on November the 4th 1871 to the present day. The shipping company has written global maritime history. The exhibition looks at the most important international events of the last 150 years. Hamburg Süd launched a commercial and human connection between Europe and South America that has endured to this day. The spheres of influence and the branches of the logistics chain served by the shipping company have been continuously expanded over the decades. In passenger shipping, Hamburg Süd was the protagonist of the waves of emigration from Europe to South America via the South Atlantic Line during the Golden Age of Ocean Liners.

The two world wars resulted in two total losses of her fleet, with a successful reconstruction in each case. In the second half of the 20th century, Hamburg Süd owned a sophisticated fleet of general cargo vessels with ships such as the „Cap San Diego“ – today preserved as a museum ship in the Port of Hamburg – before later successfully switching to container shipping.

But Hamburg Süd’s history is far from over. In the last 20 years, the shipping company has ranked among the ten largest container shipping companies in the world, not only due to acquisitions, such as the Brazilian Aliança, the liner services of Kien Hung from Taiwan or the liner activities of Costa Container Lines, but also through targeted, organic growth. Hamburg Süd is regarded as one of the leading providers in the North-South trades with a very special expertise in the transport of sensitive goods, especially in the area of refrigerated cargo. In 1936, Dr August Oetker acquired a 25 per cent stake in Hamburg Süd, and in 1955 the Oetker Group took over the entire company. At the end of 2017, the company was sold to the Danish A.P. Møller – Mærsk Group.

A special exhibition of superlatives

The special exhibition „Hamburg Süd – 150 Years on the World’s Oceans“ tells the story through a multitude of unique exhibits, some of which were shipped to the Maritime Museum from all over the world. The exhibits are presented within the framework of a spectacular exhibition architecture to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the shipping company in a worthy manner.

The museum team has completed a project that we can all be proud of. We can hardly wait to present it to our museum visitors. The spectrum of exhibits ranges from Hamburg Süd’s founding charter and the special treaty with the Brazilian Emperor Dom Pedro II from 1888 to posters of the most diverse passenger ship voyages from four decades. Also on display are paintings never before shown in public, including those of Hamburg Süd’s first ships from 1873, as well as photographs and ship models from the various eras. The exhibits are enriched by, among other things, photo albums with voyage narratives by various passengers and contemporary witnesses, audio and video material.

To coincide with the company’s anniversary and the opening of the exhibition, Koehler Verlag is publishing the book „Hamburg Süd – 150 Jahre auf den Weltmeeren / Die Geschichte einer großen Reederei“ (Hamburg Süd – 150 years on the seven seas / The history of a great shipping company) for all those who would like to delve deeper into the history of the shipping company. We are also working on organising an extensive accompanying programme of guided tours and events.

The exhibition will be shown for ten months on deck 1 in the International Maritime Museum. After that, the exhibition will go on a journey to South America. Here it will be on display at Hamburg Süd’s historic locations in Argentina and Brazil.

Cooperation with the International Maritime Museum Hamburg

The exhibition on the 150th anniversary of Hamburg Süd is the preliminary highlight of an extensive cooperation between the shipping company and the museum. In 2019, a cooperation with the Hamburg shipping company was agreed for this purpose. The aim is to make the history accessible to the general public in the form of a permanent exhibition.

The financing of several years of preparatory work and the exhibitions has been secured by a significant donation from the Oetker family, who owned the Hamburg Süd for over eight decades. The partners‘ collaboration already left visible traces at the end of 2019. At that time, two „heavyweights“ of Hamburg Süd’s historic ship model collection dropped anchor at the museum. The „Cap Arcona“ from 1927 and the „Cap Polonio“ from 1914 are among the most important historical ship models worldwide. Due to their size of 5.40 and 4.00 metres in length, elaborate crane work over the outer façade of the museum was necessary to move these extraordinary exhibits into the Maritime Museum.

Another new addition is the original shipyard model of the „San Nicolas“ by Blohm & Voss from 1897, which, like the other models, fascinates visitors on deck 6. From the end of September, there will also be an installation there that explains the history of refrigerated shipping using different ship models. The installation was also created in the course of this cooperation between the museum and the shipping company.

The special exhibition „Hamburg Süd – 150 Years on the World’s Oceans“ will be on display on Deck 1 of the International Maritime Museum from November 4th 2021 to March 5th 2023. The visit is included in the museum admission price.

Contact the Museum.


With a fleet of 250 container ships, an annual transport volume of twelve million TEU and over 13,000 employees in 129 countries, Hapag-Lloyd AG is one of the world’s leading liner shipping companies. It has been a long road to this success. In May, the traditional shipping company celebrates its 175th birthday. From 31 May 2022, the International Maritime Museum in the Speicherstadt will present highlights from the history of this traditional Hamburg shipping company.

Das Internationale Maritime Museum Hamburg feiert mit einer Sonderausstellung 175 Jahre Hapag-Lloyd. Sie wird ab dem 31. Mai 2022 auf Deck 2 gezeigt.

The special exhibition invites visitors on an exciting journey through 175 years of shipping history. This begins on 27 May 1847 with the founding of the „Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft“ (Hapag) by Hamburg businessmen and shipowners under the chairmanship of Adolph Godeffroy. The carriage of mail (parcels) and the passage of emigrants were the most important sources of income for many years. The magnificent steamship „Hammonia“ stands for this period of passenger shipping. On 1 June 1857, it started regular voyages from Hamburg directly to New York. Until then, the shipping company had taken emigrants and other passengers across the Atlantic on sailing ships. In addition to the ship model, framed by contemporary suitcases and postal packages, the exhibition also presents the emigrant rules in force at the time.

„My field is the world“ …

…describes the successful era of the legendary Albert Ballin in the years 1893 to 1918. During his time as general manager, Hapag consolidated its position as the largest shipping company in the world. A painting by Albert Brenet showing the passenger steamer „Imperator“, which was the largest ship in the world at the time, represents this era. Never before had such a large ship sailed down the Elbe.
The exhibition also describes dramatic events in Hapag’s history. At the end of March 1899, the whole world spoke with great respect of Hamburg captain Gustav Schmidt. He had brought the „Bulgaria“, which was already considered to have sunk, back to Hamburg despite the most severe damage caused by a hurricane. Awards from Captain Schmidt’s estate commemorate this event.

Difficult times

The „difficult times“ began in 1919 and lasted until 1945. As a result of the First
The entire fleet was lost as a result of the First World War. On 9 November 1918, General Director Albert Ballin had died. His successor, Wilhelm Cuno, however, succeeded in putting Hapag back on the road to success. Thus, in 1923, the four „Albert Ballin“-class combi ships successfully resumed North Atlantic service.

The guest book of the „Albert Ballin“ from the years 1927-1932 is kept in the IMMH archives. It comes from the estate of Commodore Paul Wiehr. The book, lovingly and often humorously illustrated with contributions from the international travelling public, has been prepared interactively; you can „leaf through“ it. The documents and objects from the estate of Captain Gustav Schröder are impressive. In 1939, he was in command of the Hapag passenger ship „St. Louis“, whose odyssey with more than 900 Jewish emigrants on board kept the world in suspense shortly before the Second World War.

The years 1945 to 1969 brought a „new beginning and continuity“. In 1947, Hapag’s centenary was quietly celebrated. The entire fleet had been lost for the second time. The reconstruction of the liner network was only possible together with Norddeutscher Lloyd. The first newbuilding after the Second World War was the motor ship „Hamburg“, built in 1950 at the Howaldtswerke and serving the West Indies. There are drawings and photos of this ship. The „Frankfurt“ was also put into service for the West Indies in 1967. A model impressively shows the ship’s heavy-lift cargo loading gear.

„Better together“

When container traffic grew rapidly towards the end of the 1960s, requiring heavy investment in containers and new ships, the two competitors Hapag and Norddeutscher-Lloyd joined forces. In 1970 they merged to form Hapag-Lloyd AG.

Over the past decades, Hapag-Lloyd has continuously transformed itself into an internationally organised, modern, sustainably operating company. In its striving for excellence, however, the shipping company has remained true to itself.

Hapag and tourism

In addition to freight traffic, pleasure and educational voyages were a lucrative business for Hapag early on. During the winter months, when the passenger ships on the North Atlantic were underutilised, Albert Ballin sent them to the Mediterranean with well-heeled travellers. In January 1891, the „Augusta Victoria“ set sail from Cuxhaven for the first time on a two-month pure pleasure voyage. On board were 241 passengers from Germany, England and America. Ballin is thus considered the inventor of the cruise. The draughtsman Christian Wilhelm Allers, who was on board at the time, published a portfolio of pictures with „Memories of the voyage of the „Augusta Victoria“ to the Orient“. His sketches as well as the guest list of this cruise are part of the special exhibition.

Between the First and Second World Wars, the „Reliance“ and the „Resolute“ sailed for Hapag, carrying between around 700 and 1,500 passengers. After the merger with Norddeutscher Lloyd, Hapag-Lloyd continued the „Europa“ tradition of cruising. Today Hapag-Lloyd Cruises is part of the TUI Group.

Air transport was also an important pillar of tourism. This is illustrated by a model of the Boing 737-800 „Albert Ballin“. Although Hapag-Lloyd Fluggesellschaft was only founded and entered in the commercial register at the beginning of July 1972, the connection between the two major German shipping companies with air travel goes back to the time before the First World War. In 1910 it started modestly with Delag (Deutsche Luftschiffahrts-Aktiengesellschaft). In 1917, the company joined the Deutsche Luft-Reederei. In 1923 Hapag and NDL founded Deutsche Aero Lloyd AG, which shortly afterwards led to the foundation of Deutsche Luft Hansa AG. The first Hapag Lloyd flight took off in 1973. Until 2007, it offered flights mainly to the Mediterranean region.

Book on the special exhibition „175 Years of HapagLloyd“.
The book „175 Jahre Hapag-Lloyd – 175 Years of Hapag-Lloyd 1847-2022: Vom Auswandererschiff zum Megacarrier – From emigrant ship to megacarrier“ was published by Koehler Verlag to accompany the exhibition. 388 pages, German/English. Hardback edition. 49,95 €.