Reiherstieg shipyard

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View over the Elbe onto the site of the former Reiherstieg shipyard , now Shell AG, in January 2007. At the confluence of the Reiherstieg, the shipyard's last operating building can be seen, which was demolished in autumn 2008.

The Reiherstieg shipyard was founded in 1706 by the businessman Lukas Kramer on the Reiherstieg tributary of the Elbe in Wilhelmsburg . The company developed into one of the large shipyards in Hamburg and was taken over by Deutsche Werft in 1927 .

After the merger of Deutscher Werft, Howaldtswerke Hamburg and Kieler Howaldtswerke to form Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in 1968/69, the operation became part of HDW. In the course of the abandonment of the HDW Hamburg location, the Reiherstieg shipyard, one of the oldest shipyards in the Hanseatic city, stopped shipbuilding in 1983.


Around 1700 today's Hamburg district Wilhelmsburg consisted of several Elbe islands, which were bought and sealed together by Prince Georg Wilhelm Duke of Braunschweig-Lüneburg . The north-western part of the land was the Klütjenfeld, which was named Reiherstiegland after its dike after the Elbarm on which it was located . As early as the 17th century, the Reiherstieg, both as a navigable arm of the river and as a place, gained some importance in the up-and-coming Hamburg port economy. In addition to the shipping of agricultural products, the timber trade became an important trade. In a bay that existed at that time, the so-called Mühlenbrack, roughly opposite today's entrance to the Köhlbrand Bridge, a river port was built, which was mainly used for rafting . There the Dutch immigrants Ancke Bauwes and Baucke Hiddes built a sawmill and built Ewern . From 1678 an annual delivery of four to six ships is proven.

Lukas Kramer Werft and Berend Roosen Werft

Location of the Reiherstieg shipyard. Lower map: The Reiherstieg in Wilhelmsburg around 1790. Upper map: The mouth of the Reiherstieg at the Kleiner Grasbrook around 1910
The Reiherstieg shipyard 1840, tinted drawing by Adolph Friedrich Vollmer

In 1698 the merchant Lukas Kramer (1660–1719) from Harburg acquired the sawmill and the property at Reiherstiegdeich 55, expanded shipbuilding and in 1706 had the Reiherstieg shipyard registered under his name. By marrying Sara de Voss from an Altona Mennonite family who was involved in whaling as a Greenland driver, which was important at the time , he was able to join the Arctic fleet . Lukas Kramer himself was involved in the business from building the ship to managing the ship and whaling. After his death in 1719, his widow Sara Kramer continued to run the shipyard. In 1736 his son-in-law Berend Roosen (1705–1788), one of the largest Hamburg merchants, partners and, after Sara's death in 1758, became the owner of the now Berend Roosen company, which in addition to the shipyard also owns the shipping company, a merchant fleet (1778 with 21 seagoing vessels) and a Oil distillery included. Over the years Berend Roosen shifted the business from whaling to merchant shipping, thus ensuring the continued existence of the shipping company and the shipyard. By 1790, 56 ships had been built at the Reiherstieg shipyard, putting it at the forefront of Hamburg shipbuilding in the 18th century.

After Berend Roosen's death in 1788, various communities of heirs continued to run the shipyard. The Reiherstieg shipyard was burned down in February 1814 during the retreat during the Wars of Liberation . The reaction of Berend II Roosen (1744–1829) has been handed down as evidence of the connection with God of the Mennonite Roosen family: "As ick watch out for the dark un dat Füer anseeg, because he thought - we Lord God het dat geven, un nu he takes he't wedder, he weet ümmer, was for the dat best. ”In it he refers to the protracted inheritance disputes that led to the business being run by the younger generation from 1813 under the name of B & H Roosen jres were taken over. It was one of the first shipyards to build steamships. After the heirs significantly reduced their own fleet of ships, the construction of new ships at the Reiherstieg shipyard was also stopped in 1841. It was only used for repairs.

Godeffroy's shipyards, Reiherstieg

Hermann V Roosen sold the Reiherstieg shipyard to the Joh. Ces company on June 22, 1849 . Godeffroy & son of the Hamburg businessman Johan Cesar Godeffroy (1813–1885). The shipyard now operated as Godeffroy's Werfte Reiherstieg . Due to the increased number of emigrants and increased imports of trade goods, there was a growing need for transport and merchant ships. From 1850 to 1856 18 ships in a row were built for Joh. Ces. Godeffroy & Son built. In 1856 the light Richard for Pearson & Langnese was the sensational first iron ship in Hamburg to be completed.

Immediately adjacent to the Guanofleet , which runs parallel to the Reiherstieg, was the site of the Stülckenwerft since 1846 .

Reiherstieg Shipyards & Boilermakers

Reiherstieg shipyard around 1865, photograph by CF Höge

In October 1857 Ferdinand Beit became a partner and the shipyard was renamed Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte & Kesselschmiede . The full ship Germany of the Hamburg-American Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) founded in 1847 , in which the Godeffroy family was also involved, was built. The site in Wilhelmsburg became too small for the expanding shipbuilding industry, in 1861 the shipyard moved its premises from Wilhelmsburg to Kleiner Grasbrook, Worthdamm, at the mouth of the Reiherstieg in the Norderelbe opposite the Baumall . In those years it was considered the largest shipyard in Hamburg. Friedrich Ludwig Middendorf worked here as an engineer from 1863 to 1865. Technical innovations in shipbuilding were taken up - for example, the port of Hamburg's first icebreaker was built in 1871 . His name was Comité and was - most recently under the name Eisfuchs  - in service until 1957.

Godeffroy was one of the largest shipowners in Europe in the mid-19th century. The company stopped making payments in December 1879, because the widely branched commercial and industrial enterprises had tied up capital and liquidity had been used up. The Beit company had already left the partnership in 1879. After a settlement, the shipyard was converted into a stock corporation in 1881 and traded under the name Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte und Maschinenfabrik AG . All change on standing was Siegmund Robinow 1858-1859 head of the shipyard.

Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte und Maschinenfabrik AG

The dry dock of the Reiherstieg shipyard on the site of the former B. Wencke Söhne shipyard , 1906

In 1881 Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte & Kesselschmiede was converted into a stock corporation under the company Reiherstieg Schiffswerfte und Maschinenfabrik AG with the help of loans from the Norddeutsche Bank under the then chairman of the supervisory board Gustav Godeffroy . It was run as the second largest shipyard in Hamburg. The Blohm & Voss shipyard, which had only existed for four years, had better success with the concept of shipbuilding for its own account. Around 1900, the Reiherstieg shipyard took over the premises and facilities of the neighboring B. Wencke Söhne shipyard as Plant II, and in 1912 the Heinrich Brandenburg shipyard on the ferry canal . The premises thus extended on both sides of the Reiherstieg estuary.

By Blohm & Voss with 10,250 employees and opened in 1909. Vulkan Werft with 4,300 employees (part of the operation from 1911 Hamburg-based Vulkan-Werke Hamburg and Stettin AG ) the Reiherstieg yard is 1914's third largest with 3,245 employees shipyard in Hamburg. In 1917, the neighboring JHN Wichhorst shipyard on the eastern site was bought up and continued as Plant III. In the crisis-ridden 1920s, the machine works Wetzel & Freitag took over the shipyard in 1925. In order to raise the capital, they sold the large 10,000 t dock, thus losing a significant source of income and again had to seek financial support. This came in early 1927 from Deutsche Werft , which took over the majority of the shares. In September 1927 the two shipyards were completely merged through an exchange of shares. In 1928 the Reiherstieg operation of Deutsche Werft AG had three slipways, five floating docks with a load capacity of up to 12,000 tons and an older dry dock for ships up to 100 meters in length. The former "Heinrich Brandenburg Department" of the Reiherstieg shipyard became Plant III of the German shipyard.

Reiherstieg-German shipyard

The merger of the two shipyards brought about a short-term rationalization and revitalization, but due to the global economic crisis , the new shipbuilding practically came to a standstill, as in almost all German shipyards; the number of employees fell to 1,349. From 1934 the newbuilding business slowly started up again - by 1939 72 larger tankers and cargo ships could be delivered, mostly motor ships, a specialty of the Reiherstieg shipyard. In addition, the so-called Deutsche Werft am Reiherstieg continued to stabilize with the support programs of the National Socialists and the orientation of shipbuilding towards war preparation . At the beginning of the war, almost the entire capacity of the Deutsche Werft in Finkenwerder was put into the service of submarine construction for the Navy , while the Reiherstieg factory carried out repairs and new construction of surface ships. During the Second World War, a forced labor camp was set up on the site of the shipyard . As in all Hamburg port operations, they were used for war production and for cleaning up after bombing raids. There were prisoners from the so-called Neuengamme Command as well as civilian workers from Eastern Europe. About one hundred forced laborers were killed in a bomb attack on December 31, 1944, along with the guards.

At the end of the war, the shipyard was almost completely destroyed; the reconstruction and resumption of shipbuilding took place in the early 1950s. In 1968/69 Deutscher Werft, Howaldtswerke Hamburg and Kieler Howaldtswerke merged to form Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft AG Kiel and Hamburg (HDW). The former Reiherstieg shipyard became the Reiherstieg plant , alongside the Ross plant for the former Vulkan shipyard and Howaldt shipyard and the Finkenwerder plant for the former German shipyard.

Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft

With the exception of Blohm & Voss, almost all of the formerly large Hamburg shipyards were merged into the HDW. In addition to the Reiherstieg shipyard on the Kleiner Grasbrook, which in 1900 and 1917 respectively had included the neighboring Wencke and Wichhorst shipyards, and the Deutsche Werft with the large expansion site in Finkenwerder, the Howaldtswerke Hamburg comprised the previous parts of the operations at Tollerort from Janssen & Schmilinsky and the former Vulkanwerft (HDW Werk Ross) between Rosshafen and Vulkanhafen (the latter harbor basin was filled in in 2003).

In 1973 the Finkenwerder plant was given up and new ships were only built at the Ross plant. The Reiherstieg shipyard was ultimately only used as a repair yard. In the 1980s, the Hamburg location was completely abandoned by HDW and the Reiherstieg shipyard closed in 1983. On October 1, 1987, HDW's Ross plant, which had been a subsidiary of Blohm + Voss as Ross Industrie GmbH as of January 1, 1986, also ceased operations.

The area on the Kleiner Grasbrook on Worthdamm is now used by Shell AG .

Ships that were built by the Reiherstieg shipyard

  • De Vrow Maria Elisabeth
    built in 1749, fleutschiff , whaler, size 125 m / 30 m, BRT 225 In
    1784 she
    sank after a trip to Greenland on bird sand - a sandbank in the mouth of the Elbe.
  • Icebreaker No.1
    built in 1871, icebreaker, engine power 600 HP. In use until 1957.
  • Steam passenger ship St. Georg
    : Year 1876, Steamboat, size 20.98 m / 4.40 m, engine power 75 hp, restoration 1984-1994
    It is the oldest still roadworthy steamship Germany, and again since 1994 as Alsterdampfer used.
  • SMS Marie
    launched August 20, 1881, plain-deck corvette of the Imperial Navy
  • Adolph Woermann
    built in 1906, mail steamer with space for 301 passengers, size 125 m / 15 m, 6355 GRT, broken off in 1938.


  • Dietmar Möller : Shipbuilding and ship carpenters on Reiherstieg: 1680–1865 . Atelier Reinartz, Hamburg 2011, table of contents (PDF)
  • Arnold Kludas , Dieter Maass, Susanne Sabisch: Port of Hamburg. The history of the Hamburg free port from the beginning to the present . Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-8225-0089-5
  • Walter Kresse: From the past of the Reiherstieg shipyard in Hamburg . Hamburg 1966
  • Ernst Reinstorf : History of the Elbe Island Wilhelmsburg: From the beginning to the present . Books on Demand , 2003, ISBN 3-8334-0282-2
  • Wilhelm Chr. K. Stammer: Hamburg's shipyards 1635–1993. More than 350 years of shipbuilding on the Elbe and its tributaries in the area of ​​the city-state of Hamburg . Self-published, Hamburg 1994
  • Reiherstieg shipyards and machine works, Hamburg . In: Historisch-biographische Blätter . tape 7 , no. 9 (1905/06) . Eckstein's Biographischer Verlag, Berlin ( ).
  • Kurt Schmack: JC Godeffroy & son merchants in Hamburg . Broschek & Co, Hamburg 1938, own shipbuilding, p. 83-86 .

Web links

Commons : Reiherstiegwerft  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Ernst Reinstorf: History of the Elbe Island Wilhelmsburg: From the beginning to the present . P. 271
  2. ^ The history of the Roosen family: The Reiherstieg shipyard in Hamburg . Retrieved May 13, 2009
  3. ^ Walter Kresse: From the past of the Reiherstieg shipyard in Hamburg . Hamburg 1966, p. 16
  4. Max von Schinckel: Memoirs . Self-published by Hartung, Hamburg 1929, p. 218
  5. ^ Arnold Kludas, Dieter Maass, Susanne Sabisch: Port of Hamburg. The history of the Hamburg free port from the beginning to the present . Hamburg 1988, p. 354
  6. see also: List of companies that profited from forced labor during National Socialism. ( Memento from January 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 1.5 MB, preceded by an English summary), accessed on July 26, 2017.
  7. see also report about bone finds on the premises of the Deutsche Werft: Police clear up . (PDF) In: Hamburger Abendblatt , December 8, 1951; accessed on July 26, 2017 (chargeable)
  8. A lot of work in October at Blohm + Voss . (PDF) In: Hamburger Abendblatt , October 1, 1987; accessed July 26, 2017 (fee required).
  9. Fleutschiff "De Vrow Marie Elisabeth" . History of the Roosen family; Retrieved February 19, 2014