The advertisement featured in the catalogue of the Deutsche Kolonial-Ausstellung (German Colonial Exhibition) from 1896 ( German Wikipedia Link) refers to one of the central players in African maritime travel. As the Hamburg trading companies stepped up their business activities along the western African coast in the 1860s, German influence also rose exponentially and ultimately culminated in the proclamation of German “protective rule” of Cameroon as a German colony. The subsequent increase in trade prompted Adolph Woermann (1847-1911) to first establish the Hamburg shipping company Dampfschiffs-Aktiengesellschaft (Woermann-Linie) under the roof of the C. Woermann trading company and, in a second step, the Deutsche Ost-Afrika Linie (German East Africa Line) in 1890 (featured Image shows a Woermann-Linie Promotional Poster – from Wikipedia). Complete Archive available at the Link mentioned at the bottom of this Blog Post.

Woermann-Linie Shipping Route Map (by Wikipedia)

Soon thereafter, freight service was complimented with the transport of passengers, by adding interim stops in European waters. initially, only a few passengers would use the service of the WoermannLinie with most of the Africa travellers being missionaries or merchants, and passengers under the age of 30 being the exception. Nevertheless, the transport of passengers would still remain more of a domain of the East Africa Line. Since a concerted effort was made to offer the travellers every conceivable amenity, however, high officials of the British colony service soon started joining the ranks of passengers. Around 1900, the German Empire signed a contract with the WoermannLinie to provide regular subsidized steamWorlds of Travel ship service with a maximum travel time of 30 days between Hamburg and the colony Deutsch-Südwestafrika (German South West Africa). In return, the shipping line was obliged to offer reduced rates for all government freight and passengers.

Calypso, Woermann-Linie (from Wikipedia)

A similar deal was also struck with the German East Africa Line. As a direct result of the agreement, the Woermann shipping line came to organize German troop reinforcements during the colonial wars against the Hereros and Nama between 1904 and 1908. When World War 1 broke out, more than 50 steamships carrying over 190,000 gross register tons flew the flags of these shipping lines, which serviced 140 African ports and maintained 13 outbound lines from Hamburg. Every 36 hours a German Africa steam liner of the Woermann shipping line would leave European waters. After the war, only one small coastal steamer with 800 gross register tons remained in service and it would take until 1921 for Woerman to resume the regular service to Africa with his own ships. Among the multitude of companies and institutions that have contributed to the corporate archive over the course of more than a century, shipping companies make up a small but interesting portion.

One of the Woermann-Linie Ships travelling to Namibia in 1936 (from Wikipedia)

Its press folders include articles from international newspapers and magazines on approximately 35,000 German and international firms. In addition, it maintains business reports as well as news reports on 14,000 private, state and supranational bodies, business associations, state institutions, scientific institutions and international organizations. Tue press folders are archived on the basis of geographic criteria, the decisive factor being the location of a company’s headquarters (for more Information click the included Link listed below on this Blog). The company’s first initials followed by a count allowed for further classification. Business reports and statutes make up about two-thirds of the material, the remainder being news articles, essays in professional journals, advertising, commemorative publications and other information.

     + Complete Archive Documents from 1885-1941

• Free Archive Library Platform (various Text, Newspaper Clippings and Images)

     + See some of our past Blog Post’s:

A Haunted, Abandoned German Village In The Namib Desert

Photo Collection of Namibia pre-21’st century