SOCIAL AND LINER HISTORY: 1937 SS Columbus of the North German Lloyd Ship Line – Easter Cruise to West Indies From New York March 26, 1937. The largest and fastest German ship.
(Left:These are views from the passenger list for the Easter 1937 cruise aboard the SS Columbus. The itinerary included Port au Prince, Kingston, Havana.)
The plans for a German liner to be called “Columbus” had been made as early as 1914 when North German Lloyd had placed orders for two 34,000 ton ships to counter the impressive Hamburg American trio “Imperator”, “Vaterland” and “Bismark”. The North German twins were to be called “Columbus” and “Hindenberg”, but war would postpone their construction by over six years.
In the aftermath of the Great War, the terms dictated in the Treaty of Versailles were particularly harsh on Germany, and the Germans were ordered to complete the two as of yet unbuilt ships as war reparations. So as the remainder of the surviving German fleet was parceled out to the victorious Allies, workers at the Schichau Shipyards were busily constructing a ship that was to have been their “Columbus”. But the Allies had dictated that the liner–completed in 1922–was to go to the White Star Line, and under the British flag she was renamed “Homeric”. Fortunately for the Germans, the Allied victors decided that the second ship would remain German flagged, and finally workers stated construction on what would become the S.S. “Columbus”.
(Tea in the First Class lounge on the SS Columbus last cruise before WW 2)