Beyond History Blog

The Gold Ship

Andrea Bentschneider - 26. January 2016 - Emigration, Genealogy, General

Passenger lists from the 19th and 20th century are important sources for genealogical research because they make the paths of emigrants across the sea and to foreign countries traceable.

Most of the ships we come across during our research have an emotional story. So does a Hamburg ship for emigrants called  “Cimbria” the story of which is as tragic as it is legendary. 

Built in Scotland in 1868, the ship was used by the "Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt Actien-Gesellschaft (Hapag)" for shuttle service between Hamburg and the US.

On 17 Jan 1883, the “Cimbria” left the port of Hamburg for the last time. Early in the  morning of 19 Jan 1883 the „Cimbria“, navigated by captain Julius Hansen, and a British steamboat collided in dense fog near Borkum. The British steamboat rammed the “Cimbria” at port side so that it started to sink quickly. 437 people lost their lives in this disaster, only 65 survived.

The fate of the “Cimbria” was interesting and fascinating even to following generations – not least because there were rumors that there was a large amount of money on the sunken ship. So what is the “gold ship” all about?

In fact a salesman from Darmstadt named Moritz Strauss was on board the “Cimbria” at its last and fateful trip in 1883. Allegedly the toy producer wanted to go overseas to expand his business. Legend has it that for this purpose Strauss had deposited at least two million gold mark in his safe on the “Cimbria”.

When the “Cimbria” sank in 1883, it wasn't until almost a century later that it was detected. In 1974, the searching ship “Wega” found the wreck incidentally during a routine trip, about 20 sea miles off shore of Borkum and in depth of 29 meters.    

Since this time there were many attempts to find the treasure of the “Cimbria”, it has not been found yet.

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