The Germans (Nazis) created the first cruise line and built the first ships designed exclusively for cruising. Hitler sailed on the maiden voyage. The ships were large and modern. All one class with elegant public rooms.
Hitler’s First Cruise Line
The Germans operated the first steamship line with ships exclusively devoted to cruising.
- 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.
- 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.
Hitler Sails Aboard The Robert Ley
1939 Pathe Newsreel of Hitler onboard the new cruise ship.
- 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.
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 onboard the new Wilhelm Gustloff.
- Hitler dined with friends and officials in the main dining room with other passengers.
- Hitler greeted passengers and personnel onboard the ship.