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Hitler’s Cruise Line
Hitler on board a KdF cruise to Norway.

Hitler’s Cruise Line

The Germans (Nazis) developed the VW, created the first cruise line and built the first ships designed exclusively for cruising.

"Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana, Monte Olivia, KdF cruises, SS Robert Ley, ss Wilhelm Gustloff, maritime disasters

Hitler on board a KdF cruise.

The first cruise line…

The Germans operated the first steamship line with ships exclusively devoted to cruising.

"Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana, Monte Olivia, KdF cruises, SS Robert Ley, ss Wilhelm Gustloff, maritime disasters

Cruising on board a Kdf cruise ship.

  • The Kdf – Kroft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) leisure organization, a part of the national German labor organization, was dedicated to instilling and strengthening National Socialist ideals and unity by providing affordable equal leisure and travel opportunities for the German masses.
"Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana, Monte Olivia, KdF cruises, SS Robert Ley, ss Wilhelm Gustloff, maritime disasters

The VW was part of the Kdf program. Onboard the Kdf cruise ships, concerts, cocktails in the main lounge and Hitler being interviewed by reporters.

  • One of many leisure and travel activities within KdF was a cruise brand. Starting in 1934 with chartered ships from the Hamburg American line, operating out of German ports on the Baltic and the North Sea along with cruises to the Mediterranean.
"Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana, Monte Olivia, KdF cruises, SS Robert Ley, ss Wilhelm Gustloff, maritime disasters

Onboard a Kdf cruise.

  • The idea was rather simple: as a member of the German Labor Front or the Nazi Party, everyone would be given the opportunity of low-priced cruises.
  • Passenger ships were requisitioned from Germany’s three largest shipping companies; Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, such as the Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana and Monte Olivia.
"Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana, Monte Olivia, KdF cruises, SS Robert Ley, ss Wilhelm Gustloff, maritime disasters

The Kdf ships were elegant for one class cruises.

The KdF cruises were a complete success, the German working class loved the exotic destinations that were offered, never dreaming they could experience such cruise voyages. Nearly all of the cruises were booked full, and the astonishing progress of the program soon led the Nazis to order two new ships.

Hitler sails to Norway on a short cruise…

Hitler was a welcome celebrity on board the new Wilhelm Gustloff.

  • Hitler dined with friends and officials in the main dining room with other passengers.
  • Hitler greeted passengers and personnel on board the ship.
"Kraft durch Freude" (KdF), Hamburg-Amerika Line, Norddeutscher Lloyd and Hamburg-South America Line, Dresden, Der Deutsche, Oceana, Monte Olivia, KdF cruises, SS Robert Ley, ss Wilhelm Gustloff, maritime disasters

Hitler was a celebrity on board.

Continued soon in Hitler’s Cruise Ships 

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