1930 - 1962
and her allies had lost World War I, and in the early twenties the former
empire stood without its once so glorious merchant fleet. Albert Ballin’s
great trio consisting of Imperator, Vaterland and Bismarck
had been handed over to the victorious states. The old German Blue Riband
holders from the century shift had either been confiscated or destroyed.
The only ship that remained with some former glory was the Deutschland
from 1900. But - she was a hopelessly outdated ship, and as soon as the
Germans had rebuilt their country, efforts were put in order to construct
new ocean liners.
were commissioned from Norddeutscher Lloyd in the late twenties. The two
vessels would be the Bremen and the Europa. The first of
the two was to be the latter ship. On August 1, 1928, the Europa
was launched at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg. The Bremen
was launched in the appropriate city of Bremen the day after, so now Germany
had risen from nothing to a position where they operated the two fastest
liners in the world. However, destiny would make the Europa to a
halt in further construction. On March 26, 1929, the ship was almost entirely
completed, but before the official handing over to Norddeutscher Lloyd
a mysterious fire broke out
on board. In order to extinguish the blaze, the whole ship was scuttled
on an even keel. It would take the Europa a further ten months before
she could reach completion. This made the Bremen the first of the
|The second ship of Germany's
speed-duo - the Europa. (Painting by Walter Zeeden)
the Europa was made ready for her sea trials in 1930, and on February
22, the tests took place. Everything about the new vessel was perfectly
satisfactory, and on March 19, 1930, the latest pride of Germany started
her maiden voyage. This trip would prove to be a success as the steamer
took the westbound record from her sister with a time of 4 days, 17 hours
and 6 minutes. During the voyage it was discovered that soot disturbed
the passengers, and on her return to Europe, the Europa had had
her funnels heightened by fifteen feet.
German sisters continued their peacetime service, and no ship seemed to
give them a match in quest for the Blue Riband. The ‘battle’ was between
the sisters themselves. In 1933, the Europa lost her record to the
Bremen. However that same year, the Italians snatched the westbound
record from Bremen with their brand new 50,000-tonner Rex.
went by, things changed. In 1936, the old class system was abandoned on
board the ship, and the Europa’s accommodation was reclassified
as Cabin, Tourist and Third class. This was not the only novelty. As Adolf
Hitler wanted to regain Germany’s lost pride after the First World War
with plans of starting a full scale war in Europe, the Bremen and
Europa was eyed for the use as troop carriers. On August 10, 1939,
the Europa made her last peacetime crossing for several years. When
Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, the Europa had returned to
Germany after that transatlantic voyage. From her position in Bremen, she
was sent to Bremerhaven to carry out her war task as a naval accommodation
ship. There the ship stayed until plans came to operate her in ‘Operation
Sealion’. This operation meant that the Europa would sail to Norway,
pick up friendly troops and carry them to southern England, where Germany
planned an invasion. This plan was however abandoned, because the German
Kriegsmarine opposed it as suicide. In 1942, new plans arrived concerning
the Europa. She would be turned into an aircraft carrier with an
over 900 feet long flight deck. This was also abandoned together with Hitler’s
stopping of the work on the carrier Graf Zeppelin in May that year.
This was the last thing the Europa would do for German purposes.
after being deliberately sunk on an even keel, following her collision
with the wreck of the Paris.
1945, the ship was confiscated by the United States who used her for some
major trooping duties later that year. The following year - in March, when
Germany’s defeat had been a fact for months - the Europa was handed
over to France in order to replace the fabulous Normandie, who had
been destroyed by fire at New York harbour in 1942. The French intended
to rename the ship Lorraine, but eventually decided upon Liberté.
The former Europa was towed to Le Havre for her Compagnie Générale
Transatlantique refit. The first change you would notice was that of her
funnels. Instead of the yellow N.D.L. livery, they were now in customary
C.G.T. colours - red with a black top. In December the same year, the still
refitting Liberté broke loose from her moorings during a
storm and drifted into the adjacent wreck of the Paris who had sank
on the spot after a fire in 1939. The C.G.T. did not want the occurrence with the Normandie
to re-appear, so the entire Liberté was deliberately sunk in the harbour
on an even keel to prevent her from heeling over. All efforts were then
put to raise the ship, and in April the following year the task was completed.
The vessel was towed to S:t Nazaire and rebuilt at Penhoët shipyards
at the cost of £7,000,000. In 1949, yet another fire broke out on
board and destroyed much of the new passenger accommodation areas. Not
until August 17, 1950 was the Liberté ready to enter the
waves for the glory of France. Her partners became the fabled Île de
France and the De Grasse, making the French Line operate a very
distinguished trio of ships.
|This nice photograph
shows the Liberté in her beautiful French Line livery.
continued in C.G.T. service throughout the fifties with no major changes
except for the bettering of the ship’s funnels. A discrete dome had been
added to top each of the now slightly higher funnels in order to further
lead the smoke away from the passengers’ areas. The beginning of the sixties
however showed that the Liberté was an old ship dating back
to the twenties. The Île de France had disappeared in 1958, and
announcements stated that the Liberté would be replaced by
a new 65,000-tonner. That 65,000-tonner was the new France, and
when she entered the transatlantic route in February 1962, the Liberté
had gone to the scrap yards in La Spezia, Italy a month earlier. Being
almost 33 years old, the former Europa had only seen 21 years in
passenger service at the time of her retirement.
||936 feet (285.9 m)
||102 feet (31.2 m)
||49,746 gross tons
||Four 25,000 H.P. steam
turbines powering four propellers.