Hamburg-America Line

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Hamburg-America Line

Hamburg-America Line, a shipping company founded in 1847 by Hamburg shipowners to provide a "regular connection between Hamburg and North America by means of sailing ships under Hamburg flags." Originally the Hamburg-Amerikanische-Packetfahrt-Actien Gesellschaft, it was called HAPAG even after the line changed its name in 1893 to Hamburg-Amerika Line. The company slogan was "Mein Feld ist die Welt" (My field is the world). It began operations in Latin America in the 1850s, but entered that region most seriously when it reached an agreement with the Kosmos Line in 1901 and purchased the Atlas line. These two steps conceded HAPAG major European influence in freight service with Latin America.

About 1905, a serious conflict between HAPAG and the United Fruit Company arose when one of HAPAG's acquisitions, Atlas Steamship Company, entered into a profitable relationship with American Fruit and other banana exporters that competed with United Fruit. In 1913 United Fruit opposition and poor reception of the bananas in Europe persuaded HAPAG to sell Atlas to United Fruit and to terminate its ties to American Fruit.

HAPAG service to Latin America was disrupted in World War I and reestablished through a shared steamer service, the Deutsche Westküsten-Dienst (Germany West Coast Service). This service was disrupted again in 1939 and resumed its functions in 1953.

See alsoUnited Fruit Company .


Otto Mathies, Hamburgs Reederei 1814–1914 (1924).

Peter Franz Stubmann, Mein Feld ist die Welt: Albert Ballin: Sein Leben (repr. 1926; 1960).

Warren Armstrong, Atlantic Highway (1962).

Lamar Cecil, Albert Ballin: Business and Politics in Imperial Germany, 1888–1918 (1967).

Additional Bibliography

Cooper, James, Arnold Kludas, and Joachim Pein. The Hamburg South America Line. Kendal, Cumbria: World Ship Society, 1989.

Kludas, Arnold. Record Breakers of the North Atlantic: Blue Riband Liners, 1838–1952. Washington, DC: Brassey's, 2000.

                                   Thomas Schoonover