Adolf Hitler on a 3-day cruise. Photo by Hugo Jeager
The history of the ship “Robert Ley”
The vessel, named after the Nazi politician Robert Ley, was intended exclusively for cruises. The keel was laid down on behalf of the Nazi organization Deutsche Arbeitsfront at Howaldtswerke Hamburg. “Robert Ley” was owned by DAF and operated by the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag) crew. The interior design was made by the architect Voldemar Brinkmann. The launch took place on March 29, 1938 in the presence of Adolf Hitler. The commissioning took place on March 24, 1939. The ship was designed for approximately 1,750 passengers in addition to the crew.
Until the outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, the ship “Robert Ley” was used as a cruise ship by the Kraft durch Freude organization. In May 1939 it was sent with the KdF ships “Wilhelm Gustloff”, “Stuttgart”, “Der Deutsche” and “Sierra Cordoba” and the ship “Oceana” to Spain to unload medical and other supplies for the nationalist government. On May 26th, the Condor Legion boarded, and 1,416 passengers on the “Robert Ley” returned to Hamburg.
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