Stephan Jantzen

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Stephan Jantzen (before 1870)

Stephan Jakob Heinrich Jantzen (born July 20, 1827 in Warnemünde ; † July 19, 1913 there ) was a seaman, pilot commander and sea ​​rescuer .

The career as a seaman

After his confirmation , Stephan Jantzen went to sea at the age of 14 and checked out the Rostock galeas “Argo” as a cabin boy .

Jantzen soon became an ordinary seaman, later a fully qualified seaman, and after six years he passed the pilot's examination on long voyages. In the following seven years he was the first helmsman on three different Rostock ships.

Already at this time Jantzen earned a reputation for fearlessness and boldness. So is narrated that he, during a trip to New York for weeks as the only crew member on the black pox diseased captain provided assistance, despite the opposition of the rest of the crew, the mood on the border to the mutiny was.

In 1854 Jantzen married Marie Susemihl, who was born in Warnemünde, in 1856 he was granted the license to be a skipper on long voyages and in the same year became captain of the 38-meter barque “Johannes Keppler”; Jantzen had personally commissioned this ship from Rostock shipbuilder Heinrich Rickmann; Another donor was the Rostock shipowner Ernst Brockelmann . Jantzen also had shares in this ship, with which he circumnavigated the earth twice between December 1856 and 1866, mostly accompanied by his wife and firstborn son Magnus. The second son Varelius was born on one of the voyages on board. Both of Jantzen's sons later also became seamen.

Jantzen's first sea rescue

In June 1863 Jantzen and his barque came near a Portuguese ship on the coast of North America , which threatened to sink after a collision with another ship. Together with his crew, Jantzen managed to save the 14-man crew. For this rescue operation Stephan Jantzen was awarded the Order of Christ by the Portuguese King .

Pilot commander and foreman

When Jantzen was elected pilot commander of Warnemünde by the Rostock council in March 1866, he sold the "Johannes Keppler". The high esteem and trust that Jantzen was shown is reflected in the fact that he was appointed pilot commander before he was 40, a generally unusual age for this task.

At that time it was often common for the pilot commanders to take over the task of the foremen of the local sea rescue stations of the German Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked People (DGzRS), founded in 1865 . Many rescue missions at the Warnemünde station took place under the direction of Stephan Jantzen. Many of these missions showed again the bravery and selflessness of this man.

For example, a rescue operation in November 1872 is known when Jantzen showed great caution in rescuing a family with a rocket apparatus during a storm surge and was able to bring six people to safety with his crew. Even multiple capsizing of the lifeboats he led did not prevent Jantzen from repeatedly doing rescue missions at the risk of his own life.

Chronology of a rescue mission

Here is an example of the reconstruction of a rescue mission on December 16, 1873 based on written records:

At about 8 p.m. the pilot commander Jantzen received a telegram: a small vehicle was stranded and was showing emergency signals. Jantzen immediately had the lifeboat and missile apparatus ready, but it took until 10.30 p.m. before the necessary horses were available, as most of the owners feared the weather. At about half past eleven in the evening, the cars were able to start their journey on the muddy roads and after more than three hours arrived near the scene of the accident; In Doberan, a city gate had to be widened because the wagons were too large.

The conditions were so bad that the crew refused to board the boat despite Jantzen's pleading; they wanted to wait until daybreak.

The next morning, about 175 meters from land, two people tied to the mast of their sunken ship could be seen who were constantly being washed over by torrential lakes. Since the storm had become even stronger in the meantime, the crew still refused to board the lifeboat, and so Jantzen tried to use the rocket apparatus to establish a line connection to the wreck. Since none of the five rockets fired reached the target, Jantzen sent his son back to Warnemünde to get new rockets. Meanwhile, an attempt was made to reach the scene of the accident with the lifeboat. However, this failed despite repeated attempts.

During a fifth attempt at dusk, the oar and tiller were pushed so hard when they hit the ground that Jantzen suffered a serious head injury. Despite being briefly unconscious, he managed to bring the boat close to the victim. One of the castaways could be taken into the lifeboat, the other first fell into the water, but could then also be pulled into the boat. Thirty meters from the beach, three pilots were thrown out of the boat by a huge breaker, but they could be pulled back into the boat. Jantzen suffered a serious injury to one hand and was later almost thrown out of the boat himself when another serious ground strike. When he arrived in Warnemünde on the late evening of December 17, 1873, he was so exhausted that he had to be lifted out of the car. For the rescue of the two Danish sailors, he later received the “Golden Medal for Noble Deed” from the Danish king.

honors and awards

Jantzen has received numerous awards from home and abroad for his work. He received the Gustav Vasa Cross, the Danish gold medal for noble deeds (see above) from the King of Sweden , the Order of the Crown from the German Emperor Wilhelm I and the Knight's Cross from the Grand Duke of Oldenburg. Further awards were the Grand Cross of the House Order of the Wendish Crown from the Princely House of Mecklenburg, the Mecklenburg-Schwerin Rescue Medal, the Russian Rescue Medal and the Great Golden Rescue Medal of the DGzRS.

His pilots respectfully addressed Jantzen as “Herr Kommandür”; in his hometown he was nicknamed “the Grand Duke”.

Stephan Jantzen was offered various honorary positions. From 1867 he was a representative of the Patriotic Fire Insurance in Warnemünde, from 1889 to 1909 he administered the "Foundation for widows and orphans at sea in Warnemünde", was chairman of the Warnemünde fishing association and from 1890 until his death he was a member of a commission to investigate marine casualties , the Reichsoberseeamt in Berlin .

But even after his death, which occurred after a brief illness on July 19, 1913, Stephan Jantzen was honored. For example, by naming a street and a park in Warnemünde, as well as naming a road ring in the Rostock district of Schmarl. The Stephan-Jantzen-Gymnasium in Rostock bears his name, and the pilot commander and sea rescuer is remembered with the christening of the largest icebreaker in the GDR with the name Stephan Jantzen and a DGzRS rescue cruiser with the name Vormann Jantzen .

In the square by the lighthouse in Warnemünde stands the sculpture “Lotsenehrung” by Reinhard Dietrich (Beton, 1976), which is also dedicated to Stephan Jantzen's work.

Individual evidence

  1. Information booklet of the Warnemünde Local History Museum
  2. Johannes Lachs, Theodor Zollmann: Seotrettung an Nord- und Ostsee , DSV-Verlag, Hamburg, 1998 ISBN 3884122428


  • Jürgen Rabbel, storm drives. Strandings. Rescues - pilot commander Stephan Jantzen and the Warnemünde rescue service. Verlag & Medien GbR, 3rd revised edition, Rostock 2014. ISBN 978-3-940835-40-6
  • Jantzen, Stephan (seafarer, pilot in command in Warnemünde) by Peter Reinhard - Reinhard Thon publishing house / Technical State Museum Schwerin 1st edition - Schwerin 1994 page 13 ISBN 3-928820-23-0

Web links

Commons : Stephan Jantzen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files