German shipyard

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Deutsche Werft AG
legal form Corporation
founding 1918
resolution 1968
Reason for dissolution Merger with Howaldtswerke Hamburg AG and Kieler Howaldtswerke AG to form Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG
Seat Hamburg - Finkenwerder , Germany
Branch shipbuilding

Deutsche Werft facilities in the background, winter 1962
Share over RM 1000 in Deutsche Werft AG on September 27, 1927

The Deutsche Werft AG was a shipyard founded in 1918 on the initiative of Albert Ballin in Hamburg-Finkenwerder (spelling until 1946: Finkenwärder). The founding shareholders were Gutehoffnungshütte (GHH) , Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) and Hamburg-American Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG). In 1968 Deutsche Werft AG merged with Howaldtswerke Hamburg AG and Kieler Howaldtswerke AG, Kiel to form Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW), based in Kiel.


Most of HAPAG's ships were lost through seizure or sinking in the course of the First World War . It was therefore for the HAPAG and especially for its director Albert Ballin clear that after the war to an economy had come of shipbuilding. A modern large shipyard was to be built to meet the expected demand, which  could build cheaper and more efficient ships - especially the then new diesel motor ships. In 1916, William Scholz presented his drafts for planning the shipyard in a memorandum that he had drawn up on behalf of Ballin. As early as 1917 during the war, Ballin founded Hamburger Werft AG together with Walter Rathenau from AEG , in which AEG was supposed to supply the engines. However, this company failed due to a lack of capital. As early as 1916, AEG had leased the so-called Vorland I from the Hamburg Senate in Finkenwerder . Ballin, convinced of his idea, held further discussions, especially with steel producers , as they had capital and interest in steel customers. After the conversation with Hugo Stinnes failed, Ballin was able to convince Paul Reusch of the Gute-Hoffnungs-Hütte. The Deutsche Werft AG could still be established during the war, on the grounds that it would maintain war -essential submarines more cheaply.


Overview of the old shipyard in today's Rüschpark, part of the
Deutsche Werft subcamp memorial
The Steendiek Canal with the old shipyard halls on the left and the administration tower of the Deutsche Werft built in 1958
Factory hall of the Deutsche Werft, Hamburg-Finkenwerder (2007)

Operations began in 1918 on Foreland I in Finkenwerder, which was expensive to develop . This place was chosen because the adjoining foreland II offered enough space for growth, which was hardly available in the rest of the port. On June 6, 1918, the initial capital was 10,000,000 marks, of which 5,100,000 went to GHH, 3,900,000 to AEG and 1,000,000 to HAPAG.

Former submarine bunker Fink II at Rüschpark, buried after the war, exposed again in 2006
The former administration building of the shipyard on the Elbe in Finkenwerder, built in 1958

The foreland I was between the Köhlfleet and the old Steendiekkanal. It was given up again in the mid-1920s. Today the Gorch-Fock-Park and the Finkenwerder swimming pool can be found on the site. After the end of the war, the company moved to Vorland II west of the Steendiek Canal in the early 1920s . Parts of the old Rüsch Canal were filled in for this. Today the area is called Rüschpark.


In the 1920s, the Deutsche Werft was a production site for merchant ships and built special ships for various civil purposes. In 1921 it had a workforce of around 6,000. Because of the bad economic situation at the time, the production of cargo ships , passenger ships , fish steamers and dredging barges kept society going with great difficulty, and every strike threatened the continued existence of the shipyard. In 1927, Deutsche Werft acquired the majority of shares in the Reiherstieg shipyard in Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg .

The economic situation of the two shipyards improved rapidly after the Navy had commissioned the construction of submarines: From the beginning of 1941 to April 1945, 113 boats of the types IX C , IX C / 40 and XXIII were completed. For this purpose, the Fink II submarine bunker was built on the Rüsch Canal from 1941 to 1944 . The direct neighbor on the Neß Canal also benefited from the upgrade: Blohm & Voss built the aircraft yard for their subsidiary Hamburger Flugzeugbau GmbH , which played a key role in expanding the Air Force .

Forced labor

From 1940 the German shipyard employed a total of several thousand prisoners of war , forced laborers or " Eastern workers " and from 1944 also concentration camp prisoners. For this purpose, it operated three warehouses directly on the company premises (the warehouse construction site Deutsche Werft , Deutsche Werft Finkenwärder and the Eastern workers' camp Rüschkanal ), was involved in five warehouses in the Finkenwerder district and six in the port area, as well as nine warehouses in the city area. Then there were the warehouses of the Reiherstieg shipyard, which also belonged to the German shipyard. From October 1944 to the end of March 1945, a satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp was maintained on the Rüschweg, corner of Rüschwinkel, on the factory premises. There were around 600 male prisoners, mostly from the Soviet Union, Poland, Belgium, France and Denmark, who were employed as welders, locksmiths or electricians in submarine construction. 90 prisoners were killed in a bomb attack on the site in December 1944. The camp was cleared shortly before the end of the war.

Housing estates

The transformation of the village of Finkenwerder into an important location for the war effort also had an impact on the town center. The workers' and foremen's housing estate was built by the company's own architects according to plans by the architect Peter Behrens - despite the nationwide construction freeze for residential complexes. These accommodations, which were quite comfortable for the time, were built from bricks that were burned by inmates in the Neuengamme concentration camp . The SS company Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke GmbH supplied the large shipyard project.

Another project by this architect was the “Beamtensiedlung” (employee housing estate) of the Deutsche Werft in Hamburg-Othmarschen . In 1953, the Deutsche Werft was the shipyard with the highest level of construction activity in the world.

The End

In 1968 the Deutsche Werft AG merged with the Howaldtswerke Hamburg AG and the Kieler Howaldtswerke AG, Kiel to the Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) with three plants in Hamburg and the headquarters in Kiel. The Finkenwerder plant was supposed to be geared towards building new ships, but was closed in 1973.


In 1996, a memorial was inaugurated in Finkenwerder on the site of the former German shipyard for the forced laborers and concentration camp prisoners who were deployed here during the Second World War. It is a bronze sculpture that stands in a broken concrete wall and is framed by ten mountain ash trees. The work comes from the artist Axel Groehl , who lives in Finkenwerder , who wanted to set a "sign of concentrated hope against despair, gloom and coercion".

The former Fink II submarine bunker has also been redesigned as a contemporary monument. The Hamburg architects Anja Bremer and Beate Kirsch created a memorial in the newly designed Rüschpark in 2006, which is intended to make the dimensions of the site understandable with black gravel and is equipped with artistic elements and several information boards.

Ships preserved in museums


  • Wolfram Claviez: 50 years of the German shipyard: 1918–1968. Hamburg 1968.
  • Hans H. Meyer: The ships of Howaldt and HDW. Volume 1: New buildings and conversions by Kieler Howaldtswerke AG from 1945 to 1967. Oceanum Verlag eK, 1st edition, 2013, ISBN 978-3-86927-071-5 .
  • Kurt Wagner: German shipyard 50 years of world class commercial shipbuilding. Bremen 2008.

See also

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. (engl.)
  2. ^ State Center for Political Education, Hamburg , accessed on December 29, 2009.
  3. ^ Detlef Garbe, Kerstin Klingel: Memorials in Hamburg. A guide to places of remembrance from 1933–1945. Hamburg 2008, page 18; also as pdf: memorials in Hamburg , accessed on December 31, 2009.