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Bremen Ship Passengers 1904-1914

Namenskartei aus den "Bremer Schiffslisten

Bremen and its Passenger Records
Bremen has been a major port of departure to other lands for many centuries. It was the Bishop of Hamburg-Bremen that called for a Baltic Crusade in the year 1198. This led to occupation of the land called Ostpruessen, included the founding of Riga in 1200 by the Teutonic Knights and the establishment of a strong Germanic presence in the Baltic coastal and riverene regions. Bremen also contributed to and gained economic benefits from the creation of Hansiatic League. Bremen, along with Hamburg and Luebeck, was of of the three major trans-shipping centers from northern Germany.

In the last two centuries Bremen and Hamburg have been the two major German port cities for shipping lines serving North and South America as well as to and from Australia and Asia. Bremen and Baltimore became well known as sister ports for a number of shipping lines, just as New York and Hamburg had shipping lines with simular port relationships.

According to David Dreyer, up to 1907 the Bremen authorities retained only the current shipping list and that of the two previous years. In 1909 they began to keep all previous lists on a permanent basis.

However, all of the then existing Bremen passenger ship lists were destroyed on 6 Oct 1944 during a particularly devastating bombing of that port city during World War II. This loss has lead to the widely held assumption among Germanic American record searchers that no German records exist for Bremen Departures and only Hamburg Departure Lists (Direct and Indirect) exist.

However some abstracts or indexes of the lists for emigrants passing through Bremen for the years 1907 and 1913-1914 (with some gaps) were started and are now available on microfilm from the Family History Library (FHL) at Salt Lake City, Utah. A Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU) camera crew filming at the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz in 1988 was permitted to film Archiv Series R 57:12/1-16. This holding is a card file index previously created at the Deutsches Ausland-Institute in Stuttgart.

The card file is of Bremen ship passengers (a Namenskartei = name card index) titled "Bremer Schiffslisten". It was the beginnings of an index of all Bremen passengers. It was never completed, no doubt due to the onset of World War II.

The filming of this card file index was done using a very high reduction lens (42X). It took ten reels of 35 mm microfilm to complete the task. While its exact size is unknown, a rough order of magnitude estimate is that it contains well over 10,000 persons - perhaps approaching as many as 100,000 passengers. Thus while fragmentary in terms of the millions of emigrants who sailed from Bremen in the last two centuries, it is never-the-less a significant find.

FHLC Topics: This little-known holding is cataloged under the title Namenskartei aus den "Bremer Schiffslisten" 1904-1914 The cross references to this collection give some clues to its contents. It can be located in the LDS Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) under all of the following topics:

Austria - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
Czechoslovakia - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
Germany, Preussen, Rheinland, Coblenz - Emigration and immigration - Collected Works
Germany - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
Hungary - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
Jews - Germany
Russia (Republic) - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
Russia (Empire) - Emigration and immigration - Indexes
Ships - Passenger Lists

David Dreyer is of the opinion that these are abstracts of the records of the Norddeutscher Lloyd ships plying the Atlantic to and from Bremen just prior to World War I. He also feels they were prepared in the interwar years -- between World War I [1919] and World War II [1939] based on handwriting and other clues he has observed.

It is generally recognized that the Deutsches Ausland-Institute acquired and maintained a considerable amount of records. They apparently conducted research to establish the identity of both German emigrant sympathizers as well as persons considered enemies of the Third Reich on a worldwide basis.

Such records would have been of considerable value if Germany had prevailed in conquering other countries and in anticipation of eventual world conquest. Thus it must be presumed these records were created during the 1930's and used for the same nefarious reasons as other genealogy records like the Ahnenstammkartei des Deutschen Volkes and the German Minority Census of 1938/1939.

The cards are arranged in alpha order by German province and then in alpha order by emigrant surname, based on the Bremen Passenger Lists. There is one card per person and the cards seem to duplicate all of the information normally found on a passenger list.

It lists the name of each passenger, age, marital status, profession or occupation, date of departure, passenger number, ship name, last residence and stated destination. While family relationships were not given, they can be deduced from records of persons with the same surname travelling from the same residence to the same destination. In some cases such as Australia, the cards are arranged in chronological order by the date of departure with the passenger for each ship grouped in alpha order.

Overview of the Card File Contents The first two reels of this Namenskartei covers passengers from all German and East Prussian provinces from Anhalt to Posen for parts of 1904-1914 -- film #1568602 item 3.

Posen to Württemberg -- film #1568603 are covered for the same periods. Some Austria departures are also on this reel.

Some incomplete segments are identified, such as:

Österreich (= Austria) is included in film numbers 1568603, 1568604, 1568646
Böhmen (= Bohemia) is included in film number 1568647
Mähren (= Moravia) and Ungarn (= Hungary) are also included in film number 1568647
Russland (Germans from Russia) are included in film number 1568851.
Jüdische Auswanderer (= Jewish Emigrants) are covered in film number 1568852.

In addition, parts of two films contain an alpha list of destinations where the emigrants were headed: Europa (Belgien - Spanien) - Belgium and Spain: 1907/1908, 1913/1914, and Amerika (U.S.A.): 1907/1908 are covered by film number 1568871.

Amerika (U.S.A. - Uruguay), Asien (China-Persien), and Australien (Australia) -- all for 1907/1908, 1913/1914 -- are on film number 1568875 item 1.

Dave Dreyer has made use of parts of four of these reels to extract Banaters from the Bremen Shipping Records. However it is clear that significant additional information -- albeit fragmentary in its coverage -- is available for other parts of Prussia and Germany, as well as as German emigrants from Germanic settlements in Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Russia. An unknown number of Jewish emigrants from these regions are also included.