What is a disguised ship

Unheard of luxury at sea

June 11, 1913 was a beautiful, warm day in Cuxhaven with a light, refreshing sea breeze, and it was also significant: The then largest ship in the world, the Imperator, set out from there on its maiden voyage to New York. THE Imperator at the behest of his Majesty Wilhelm II, not, as is usual for ships, THE. The Swiss journalist Karl Friedrich Kurz enthused that the ship was:

"... one of the greatest marvels of the human spirit and the creation of human hands. A monstrous gigantic work that has ceased to be a ship that has become a floating city, an impassable bulwark, a monster for which our languages ‚Äč‚Äčlack a name ... "

In fact, the owner and builder - the Hamburg-American Packetfahrt-Actiengesellschaft HAPAG, and the Hamburg Vulcan shipyard - left nothing to be desired. The luxury was unheard of and did not come at the expense of safety - each of the maximum of almost 4600 passengers had a place in a lifeboat - unlike the Titanic, whose sinking was only 13 months before those responsible.

In terms of luxury, the Emperor could easily have rivaled the Titanic. The upper circles were cooked by an international chef: Auguste Escoffier, whose cookbooks are still sold at high prices today. A marble-clad Pompeii-style swimming pool was also waiting for first-class passengers.

Of course, behind the effort there was also the desire for imperial size; Typical of this was a gigantic bronze eagle figure with a wingspan of 16 meters on the Emperor's bow, which held a globe with the HAPAG motto, "My field is the world" in its claws, which Anglo-Saxon passengers received with indignity.

Technically, the colossus initially gave no cause for complaint; the drive shafts moved by steam turbines turned the five-meter-high propellers with unprecedented smoothness.

The maiden voyage ended as planned after seven days in a New York harbor, cheered by a large crowd.

Then a mishap unfolded: when we arrived at the anchorage, the hull tilted so that everything that was round and not fastened rolled off the tables. This tendency to incline had already shown itself on the high seas, to the horror of passengers and crew - so the Emperor's center of gravity was too high. Then a small fire broke out in the passenger area, which the New York fire brigade put out with such vehemence that thousands of tons of extinguishing water increased the incline, which was now visible to everyone - including the numerous press photographers. A disgrace.

After a few more Atlantic crossings, the Hamburg Vulcan shipyard finally attempted to remedy the imperator's tendency to list. Masses of heavy marble were removed from the First Class lounge - including a bust of Her Majesty! -, heavy furniture was replaced by cane stalls and 2000 tons of cement were deposited near the keel - from then on the emperor held himself perfectly straight. The First World War, which began in 1914, put an end to all splendor.

"The sword has to decide now, in the midst of peace the enemy attacks us ..."

The giant ship was moored in the Elbe; After the war it brought home 25,000 American soldiers, then served as a ship of the line for the British Cunard Line under the name Berengaria for a long time and enjoyed great popularity. The giant bronze eagle on the bow had been robbed of the wings by a great Atlantic storm before the war, the rest had then also been removed and probably made into shell casings.