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Model of the passenger steamer IMPERATOR

We invite you to visit the impressive silver model of the passenger steamer IMPERATOR in our future exhibition.

Launched at the Vulcan shipyard in Hamburg in 1912, the passenger steamship IMPERATOR was considered the largest ship in the world at that time. About 1200 crew members served there. Of these, 350 stokers alone were responsible for operating the huge steam engine plant.

While almost 600 passengers in First Class could enjoy the transatlantic crossing to America in pompously furnished salons, almost 2000 passengers in the tween deck enjoyed a less luxurious existence. The ship, which was operated by the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) under Albert Ballin, was named after Kaiser Wilhelm II.

He also gave the ship its name. The silver model of the IMPERATOR was probably made on the occasion of the naming of the ship and was manufactured by the Wilkens Silver Manufactory in Bremen.

The passenger steamer IMPERATOR is a symbol of political strength in the quay area

The silver model of the IMPERATOR is an example of the role ships played in the Empire as symbols of national and military strength. Kaiser Wilhelm II claimed that Germany must become a world power at sea. The imperial claim at sea was expressed in a global merchant and passenger shipping industry and in the acquisition of colonies.

For this reason, not only was the military fleet expanded, but also civil, industrial shipbuilding was considerably promoted. The ships were supposed to fulfil this imperial claim and were therefore advertised in public as symbols of these political ideas. Not infrequently, ships like the IMPERATOR found their way into middle-class households as decorative and prestigious decorative objects. A second silver model of the IMPERATOR can be found in the German Historical Museum in Berlin.



Related contributions



Staging of maritime power

Around 1900, military and civil shipping were in close interaction with each other. As objects of maritime politics we examine the perception of ships as political symbols.


Civil and military shipping

Around 1900, the first phase of globalization began, the world grew together. This was largely due to civil and military shipping, which at that time were working closely together


Opening hours

Cog hall: daily from 10 am to 6 pm

Ships: daily 10 am to 5:45 pm

how to reach us

Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum
Hans-Scharoun-Platz 1
D-27568 Bremerhaven


T. +49 471 482 07 0

Contact person

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