German steamship company Kosmos

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The Deutsche Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft Kosmos (DDG Kosmos) was a shipping company based in Hamburg .
It was founded in 1872 and maintained a line from Hamburg to the west coast of South America, which was eventually extended to the Pacific coast of Canada. In 1914 she was the seventh largest German shipping company with 28 ships with a total of 160,789 GRT.
In May 1921 it was merged with the DADG to form the Deutsch-Austral and Kosmos line. At that time, the DDG Kosmos did not have its own ship in service, but on paper it was still the owner of the largest German shipping fleet, as the majority of its ships that had remained in Chile or Argentina during the First World War had not yet been delivered in accordance with the surrender regulations were.
At the end of 1926, Austral-Kosmos became the property of Hapag and was dissolved after 54 years. However, it appeared to the outside world with its shipping company flag and chimney mark (all black, from 1921 black-white-red striped cap) until the beginning of the 1930s, before this was slowly removed.

Flag of the DDG cosmos


The shipping company was founded in Hamburg in 1872 with a capital of 5 million marks to operate a shipping line via Montevideo to Chile, Bolivia and Peru. The initiators were the Hamburg brokerage company Knöhr & Burchard , which had already founded a number of shipping companies (including Hamburg-Süd ) and the sailing ship company HH Eggers. Co-founders were Ferdinand Laeisz and his son Carl , who were also involved in founding other shipping companies. After it was founded, between September 1872 and April 1873, it employed seven steamers in service to Chile, which were built by the Withy Alexander & Co. and Denton, Gray & Co. shipyards in Hartlepool and were between 1218 and 1515 GRT in size. All ships were given names related to ancient Egypt. On October 5, 1872, the first voyage of the founding consortium began with the 1268 GRT large Karnak , which was followed by three more ships of this name until 1926. This ship was also the first ship of the shipping company that was a total loss in service when she stranded on January 23, 1878 south of Cap San Antonio on the Argentine coast. However, it had already run aground on Magellan Street in December 1875 and been abandoned. After it was recovered and repaired in Montevideo , it was put back into service. In February 1877 the shipping company put a ship built in Germany into service for the first time with the first Ramses (of four ships of this name). The 1608 GRT steamer was built by the Reiherstieg shipyard in Hamburg . In 1884 the DDG Kosmos owned 16 steamships with a tonnage of 37,400 GRT.
DDG Kosmos steamers initially called from Le Havre , later also from Antwerp from Montevideo and Buenos Aires , and continued through the Strait of Magellan to Valparaíso , Arica , Islay and Callao . From 1875 Punta Arenas was called, from 1876 further ports, until 1878 no fewer than twenty-one. In 1877 the DDG Kosmos fleet consisted of seven ships, nine in 1882 and thirteen in 1885. From the beginning of the eighties, the departures took place every two weeks. From 1880 Port Stanley was called on the Falkland Islands, where from 1882 to 1884 a smaller steamer, the Malvinas of 324 GRT built near Schichau , was stationed. From 1882 onwards, routes to Guatemala were attempted , from 1884 onwards there was regular service, in the 1890s there were monthly or three-weekly services.

Competition and understanding

From 1886 there was a rival line with the “Hamburg-Pacific Steamship Line” founded by A. Kirsten (1839-1915). A capital increase took place in 1889 to 6 million marks. The DDG Kosmos tried to strengthen its position with new ships and efforts to attract more passengers. The ships used also became larger. The second Denderah , which was put into service in mid-1886, exceeded 2000 GRT for the first time and the second Neko 3000 GRT delivered by Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. in 1891 and offered space for 75 passengers in three classes. In 1894 there was a pool contract with Kirsten. With the terms of the contract, the shipping company hoped to eliminate competitor Kirsten by further enlarging the ship fleet. In 1896/97 five ships of the Ammon class of 4600 GRT, 7000 tdw payload with a passenger capacity of 70 passengers were procured. Kirsten procured three very similar ships at the same time. Albert Ballin , who had been on the supervisory boards of both shipping companies since 1896, negotiated the settlement. The DDG Kosmos took over the Pacific line and their ships and their shareholders exchanged the shares. After surrendering some older ships from both fleets, the DDG Kosmos had 25 ships with 90,000 GRT. From April 1898 onwards, DDG Kosmos became the sole carrier of the connection between Hamburg and the west coast of South and Central America through the Strait of Magellan. On behalf of the British government, she also continued to handle mail for the Falkland Islands . In 1899 the DDG Kosmos stationed a smaller steamer of 383 GRT in Punta Arenas , which collected the wool production of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego at the individual coastal places and delivered it to a Hulk near Punta Arenas (the bought back Ibis, which was used in the liner service from 1873 to 1888 ). In January 1901, DDG Kosmos surprisingly signed an operating contract with Hapag, which secured Hapag a share of the west coast traffic. With this large partner, DDG Kosmos wanted to deter any new competition and Hapag was able to expand its route network without any problems. At first she only parked three small freighters for this trade area. Also were Seattle and Tacoma , as well as the Canadian ports Vancouver and Victoria (British Columbia) finally included in the route network of the DDG cosmos. A round trip then took up to eight months and 60 ports were called.

Cooperation between German shipping companies

In 1903 the DDG Kosmos fleet consisted of 29 steamers with 110 735 GRT and they continued to sail to the west coast of South America in a joint venture with HAPAG. They procured larger ships of 6,000 and 7,000 GRT.

The Athesia of Hapag, from 1902 as Uarda at DDG Kosmos

From the end of 1904 / beginning of 1905, Hapag got more involved when, with the Polynesia and her sisters, it brought three combi ships into service, which corresponded to the Kosmos ships except for the larger amount of space for passengers. After the mixed passenger and freight line to East Asia was abandoned, the Rhenania- class ships that had become vacant were also used on the Kosmos line, which were able to offer a considerably larger number of passengers. Hapag's attempts to increase passenger traffic were unsuccessful and came too late. Hapag is now using “A steamers” in freight traffic, of which the Athesia had already been sold to DDG Kosmos in 1902 and was used as Uarda .

With the newly founded Bremen Roland-Linie in 1905 a serious competitor emerged, behind which the North German Lloyd (NDL) stood. Ultimately, however, NDL and Hapag reached an agreement at the end of 1906 as part of global agreements. From 1910, a downturn set in, mainly due to the completion of the rail link from Buenos Aires to Santiago / Valpareiso. The DDG Kosmos reacts by downsizing the passenger facilities of its liners and hiring pure freighters (as early as 1905) into their service. On January 1, 1914, the DDG Kosmos had 28 ships with 160,789 GRT and was in seventh place among the German shipping companies.

War effort

When the First World War broke out, there were only a few DDG Kosmos ships at home. The freighter Serak (1906, 4703 GRT), which was seized by the British authorities in Swansea , was immediately lost .

The second Amasis , most recently as Uarda in the service of Kosmos and Hapag

The German cruiser SMS Leipzig was supplied by Amasis (1914, 7224 GRT) on its march from Mexico to the cruiser squadron of Count Spee marching across the Pacific , with which the cruiser met on September 19, 1914 near the island of Chatham . On October 3, the two ships marched from the Galapagos Islands on to Easter Island , where the meeting with the squadron took place on the 14th. On the way, the Kosmos steamers Karnak (1912, 7044 BRT) and Anubis (ex Luciana , 1898, 4763 BRT) had joined the Leipzig , which had supplies and coal for the squadron on board. The Amasis marched with the entourage of the squadron to St. Quentin Bay in the Gulf of Penas in southern Chile, where the last major supply of the squadron took place from November 21, while the other two Kosmos steamers were released to Chile. The four Kosmos steamers Memphis (1913, 7074 GRT), Luxor (1913, 7109 GRT), Ramses (1912, 7125 GRT) and Rhakotis (1907, 6982 GRT) brought supplies and coal to the supply point in St. Quentin Bay they distributed to the warships and the remaining entourage. The five Kosmos steamers were then released to Chile.

Two Kosmos cargo steamers were seized in the United States in 1917 and then used as army transports: the Serapis (1906, 4756 BRT) as Osage in San Francisco and the Setos (1905, 4730 BRT) in Honolulu, which came as Ithasca and then USS  Honolulu was used. Most of the DDG Kosmos ships remained in Chile during the war (14 steamers / 84808 GRT).

Reconstruction and merger

The few ships of the company at home and the ships in the Canary Islands were quickly delivered in accordance with the surrender conditions and distributed among the victorious powers. The repatriation of the ships in South America was delayed because the crews had often rendered the machines unusable. When the last ships arrived in Europe in 1921, there was no longer any need for these ships on the part of the victorious powers and they were offered for sale to the previous German owners. The DDG Kosmos bought back nine of its former ships. First, the Nitokris was bought back in July 1921 and entered service in 1922.

The Osiris as Babitonga the HSDG

As early as 1919, the company announced that it would resume business. The early declaration probably contained the hope of being able to keep some of the ships in South America. In fact, ships were chartered for the first departures and the Chilean Rancagua embarked on the first post-war voyage of the DDG Kosmos to Chile in March 1920. In May 1921 the company, which had not extended the joint venture with Hapag and did not own a ship, merged with the other large, independent Hamburg shipping company, DADG, to form Deutsche Kosmos- und Austral-Linien. The companies with completely different shipping areas merged their administrations and offset their profits and losses. They hoped that the merger would provide greater flexibility in order to be able to react to developments in the shipping areas. In fact, it did not happen. Only one DADG ship is known to have deployed on the Kosmos line and no Kosmos ships were deployed to Australia. There were also no consolidated construction contracts in the procurement of new buildings.

The Ramses

In 1922 the first buybacks came back into service and the first new builds that had been ordered were delivered. The first newbuilding in service was the Ibis on 23 August. On January 1, 1924, the DDG Kosmos again owned 14 ships with a tonnage of 70,013 GRT and was in 8th place among the German shipping companies and overall with the DADG Kosmos / Austral occupied 3rd place with 31 ships and 156,055 GRT. In the period from 1921 to 1926 only eleven new buildings were built for the Kosmos line, the last two of which have already been delivered to the new owner. Three of them were motor ships. In addition to the cargo ship Ibis , its sister ship Osiris and the first new combined ship Ramses , which was delivered on May 5, 1926 .

Hugo Stinnes , who bought into the new shipping company, had acquired the majority of the shares by 1924, the year he died, in order to merge it with the Stinnes-Linien. Since the Stinnes heirs were not interested in continuing shipping activities outside the core area of ​​the group, Deutsch-Austral and Kosmos-Linien acquired the Stinnes-Linien in 1926 without the transport of ore, making it the third largest German shipping company. However, the financing banks were looking for a stronger partner and so the company founded in 1921 was taken over by HAPAG on November 24, 1926, and with it the former DDG Kosmos with its 16 ships. In 1927, HAPAG then added the three black-white-red rings of the Kosmos / DADG to the chimney caps of their ships.

The German West Coast Service 1930

However, like the Roland line taken over from the NDL, the DDG Kosmos continued to exist on paper. The timetable of the “German West Coast Service” for September 1930 to January 1931 showed 26 departures from Germany to the west coast of South and Central America, which would be handled by the ships of three companies. In addition to seven Hapag departures, nine of the Roland line and ten of the DDG Kosmos departures were also shown. Of their ten departures, Ammon (1922, 7134 BRT), Karnak (1926, 7209 BRT) and the pre-war structures Rhodopis (1907, 6975 BRT) and Nitokris (1906, 6150 BRT) were actually carried out by former DDG Kosmos ships, four departures were to be handled by former Stinnes ships ( Emil Kirdorf , Adolf von Baeyer , Rhein , Artemisia ) and two by Hapag ships ( Odenwald , Saxony ). Two of the Hapag departures were also to be handled by the former Kosmos steamers Amasis (1923, 7129 BRT) and Itauri (1923, 6838 BRT).

In 1970, HAPAG merged with Norddeutscher Lloyd to form Hapag-Lloyd AG .

Cosmos line in travelogues

The Austrian doctor, psychologist and anarchist Otto Gross , who was hired as a ship's doctor in a ship's crew in 1901, was one of the more prominent fellow travelers on the Kosmos line . During his travels to Patagonia, Punta Arenas, Santiago, Montevideo and Buenos Aires, he became addicted to cocaine . In 1906 he also reported on his travel experiences to the writer Frieda Weekley . Gross compared it with the North Star on the ship and called it "Southern Cross on my voyage".


Most of the DDG Kosmos company documents were lost due to the mergers, but apparently also as a result of force majeure. The German Maritime Museum in Bremerhaven has an overview of the main data of the Kosmos passenger steamers 1895-1901 , which includes images of the ships Ammon , Amasis , Theben , Sakkarah , Itauri , Mera , Aswan and Radames . These ships were used in the Hamburg-Chile service.

Individual evidence

  1. Kludas: The History of the German Passenger Shipping , Vol. I, P. 67f.
  2. ^ Fall of the Karnak
  3. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. I, p. 72 f.
  4. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. I, p. 72
  5. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. I, p. 73
  6. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. I, p. 74
  7. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. II, pp. 126–132
  8. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. II, p. 132
  9. ↑ Little notebook from Captain Richard Kopp (1855-1942) with information about his travels from 1905 to 1911. - Postcards from Richard Kopp, which he sent to his relatives in the years 1902 to 1912. ( Haus zum Dolder , Dr. Edmund Müller Collection, Beromünster, CH)
  10. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. III, p. 102 f.
  11. a b c Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. III, p. 108
  12. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. III, p. 107.
  13. a b Herbert: Kriegsfahrten Deutscher Handelsschiffe , p. 71
  14. ^ Herbert: Kriegsfahrten , p. 72
  15. Schmelzkopf: Die deutsche Handelsschiffahrt 1919-1939 , p. 39
  16. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 18
  17. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 29
  18. Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. IV, p. 185.
  19. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 38
  20. ^ Kludas: Passenger Shipping , Vol. IV, p. 184.
  21. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 49
  22. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 70
  23. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 87
  24. Schmelzkopf: Handelsschiffahrt , p. 89
  25. Message from the chronicler Otto J. Seiler from April 19, 1996: “All Kosmos documents passed into their possession after the merger with Hapag, but the ship's files from the time before the First World War have apparently been destroyed. Due to the large number of employees who were employed by Hapag-Lloyd AG and its predecessors over the decades, the personnel files could only be kept for a few years after they left, for reasons of space. "
  26. ^ Message from the chronicler Otto J. Seiler from October 16, 1998: “The Hamburg Süd company archive , which had survived the war, fell victim to the flood disaster in Hamburg in 1962. All pre-war personnel files were destroyed from the time the company was founded. "


  • Gert Uwe Detlefsen (Ed.): Deutsche Reederei , Volume 24, Bad Segeberg 2005, ISBN 978-3-928473-82-8 .
  • Carl Herbert: War voyages of German merchant ships . Broschek & Co, Hamburg 1934.
  • The Rev. JNT Howat: Falkland Islands Mails, The Kosmos Years 1880-1900 , London 1989, m. Photos of the Setos and Thebes and the complete. South America timetables.
  • Arnold Kludas : The ships of Hamburg-Süd 1871–1951 , Stalling 1976 (p. 58: Illustration of the steamship 'Columbus' with the note: "1900 January 14th: As Kosmos to the DDG 'Kosmos', Hamburg. In Valparaiso stationed. ")
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of German Passenger Shipping, Volume I, The Pioneering Years from 1850 to 1890, Chapter 15: To the West Coast of South America , Writings of the German Maritime Museum, Volume 18
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of German Passenger Shipping Volume II Expansion on All Seas 1890 to 1900 Chapter 12: Struggle and Understanding , Writings of the German Shipping Museum, Volume 19
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of German Passenger Shipping Volume III Leap growth 1900 to 1914 Chapter 8: Joint growth , writings of the German Maritime Museum, Volume 20
  • Arnold Kludas: The History of the German Passenger Shipping Volume IV Destruction and Rebirth 1914 to 1930 Chapter 12: Through Fusions to Fusion , Writings of the German Shipping Museum, Volume 22
  • Otto Mathies: Hamburgs Reederei 1814–1914 , Hamburg 1924, pp. 107–112.
  • Reinhardt Schmelzkopf: German merchant shipping 1919–1939 . Verlag Gerhard Stalling, Oldenburg, ISBN 3-7979-1847-X .
  • Otto J. Seiler: Australienfahrt - Liner shipping of Hapag-Lloyd AG through the ages , Herford 1988, ISBN 3-8132-0270-4 .
  • Otto J. Seiler: Süd Americafahrt - German liner shipping to the countries of Latin America, the Caribbean and the west coast of North America through the ages , Herford 1992, ISBN 3-8132-0397-2 .
  • Otto J. Seiler: Ostasienfahrt - Liner shipping of Hapag-Lloyd AG through the ages , Herford 1988, ISBN 3-8132-0271-2 .

Web links

Commons : Deutsche Dampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft Kosmos  - Collection of images, videos and audio files