Germany and ‘Fixation’

  • Deri SheppardEmail author
Part of the Springer Biographies book series (SPRINGERBIOGS)


On 31 July 1902, the German five-masted, steel clipper Preussen1 (the ‘Prussian’), left Geestemünde on the German north sea coast near Bremerhaven on her maiden voyage. Preussen remains the largest pure sailing ship ever to be built—partly on a whim of the autocratic German Kaiser Wilhelm II who insisted that Germany had the most prestigious vessels afloat—but principally because of Germany’s need to maintain an acutely important trade route with South America. On 18 June 1899 the German Kaiser visited the F. Laeisz shipping company at Hamburg and was shown around the five-masted barque Potosi by the legendary Captain Hilgendorf. At the end of the tour the Kaiser turned to Carl Laeisz and reportedly asked ‘Na, Laeisz, wann kommt denn nun das Fünfmastvollschiff?2 Over the next three years, following the Kaiser’s ‘advice’, the Preussen emerged becoming the pride of the German five-masted South American fleet. She was huge, immensely strong, incredibly well equipped, able to cover thousands of sea miles at a steady 11–13 knots and she could transport a colossal cargo of 8000 metric tonnes.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cowbridge, Vale of GlamorganUK

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