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River Elbe - Dresden : Historical Database
July 8th, 1836 is regarded as the date for the "birth" of what remains today the largest paddle steamer fleet in the world, as on this date the Elbdampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft received assent from the Saxon authorities for its plans to introduce passeger and cargo steamer services on the Elbe in the Kingdom of Saxony. The reluctance of the authorities to sanction this modern form of transport meant that Dresden did not see its first steamship until 20 years after services had begun in many other comparable areas in Europe and the USA. The first steamer at Dresden was a stern-wheel tug built for a local industrialist Heinrich Wilhelm Calberla which operated from 1835 to 1837.

The company encountered little competition, taking over the assets of the companies who did attempt to compete. The fleet reached its largest size in 1915 (34 steamers). Only three vessels were built after the war, the last being PS Leipzig, one of the members of the current fleet.

It was not until 1944 that there was a significant effect on the fleet during the war, when many ships were requisitioned to evacuate civilians from the bombings at Hamburg near the mouth of the Elbe and in 1945 when the land war came to this part of Germany. Losses were not significant, but a number of the most modern steamers were transferred to the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the war.

Although no new steamers were built once the fleet came under control of the East German state, four diesel-electric paddlers were put into service. The reunification of Germany in 1989 brought great uncertainty : the fleet and the business had to be sold to private interests and the continued existence of a large fleet of ageing and potentially uneconomic vessels was by no means certain. Fortunately the new owners have retained the steamer fleet, modernised the vessels and even re-purchased a former fleet member. The four diesel-electric paddlers were sacrificed and two large new motor vessels substituted.

Historical Paddle Steamers : dates shown are dates for service in the Dresden area
Konigin Maria (1837-1846)

Prinz Albert (1839-1844)

Dresden (1838-1841) :
Sold for use at Hamburg

Prinz Albert (1845-1857)

Friedrich August (1846-1954)

Konigin Maria (1847-1859)

Bohemia (1851-1856) :
Built 1841

Bohmen (1851-1856 ) : Built 1845 as Germania

Telegraph (1847-1873) : Sold for use on Elbe at Magdeburg - Scrapped 1882

Saxonia Dresden / Constitution / Saxonia (1851-1859) : Built 1845 - Sold for use at Hamburg

Stadt Meissen (1852-1856) : Built 1838

Friedrich August (1855-1891)

Franz Josef (1855-1867)

Konig Johann (1856-1861)

Stadt Meissen (1857-1883)

Germania / Meissen (1857-1880)

Dresden (1857-1878)

Kronprinz (1858-1886)

Aussig (1858-1902) :
sold for further use on Elbe at Rosslau, then Magdeburg (1909) then abroad (1921)

Maria (1860-1899) : sold for use at Schnackenburg, then Magdeburg (1903) then to Russia (1909)

Pirna (1861-1919) : sold for use at Magdeburg, then Kovno, Lithuania (1921)

Saxonia (1862-1919) : sold for use at Magdeburg, then Kovno, Lithuania (1921), then Memel, Germany (1941)

Konig Johann (1862-1891)

Riesa (1863-1919) :
sold for use at Magdeburg, then Kovno, Lithuania (1921) - scrapped 1923

Waldschlosschen (1863-1868) :
sold for use at Magdeburg - wrecked 1887

Bohemia (1863-1926)

John Penn / Herrnskretchen / Kurort Rathen / Freundschaft (1864-1964)
: scrapped in 1966

Schandau (1864-1892) : sold for use on the Elbe at Rosslau, then to Russia (1901)

Raudnitz / Bastei (1865-1892)

Libussa (1870-1910) :
sold for use at Braunschweig - laid up 1958 - scrapped 1962

Germania / Lossnitz / Einheit (1873-1974) : saw further use as a restaurant - scrapped 1983

Blasewitz (1876-1887)
Loschwitz (1876-1887)

---- Dresden / Muhlberg / Stadt Wehlen (1879)

Kaiser Franz Josef (1880-1911) : sold for use at Prague - laid up 1967 - scrapped 1981

Meissen (1881-1907) : Sold for use on Weser at Hameln. Scrapped in 1968 in Bremerhaven. Part of vessel preserved in museum.

---- Pillnitz / Diesbar (1884) STILL IN SERVICE

---- Konig Albert / sachsen / Meissen (1885) STILL IN SERVICE

---- Konigin Carola / Diesbar / Pillnitz / Weltfrieden / Pillnitz (1886) STILL IN SERVICE

Kaiser Wilhelm (1887-1919) : sold for use at Magdeburg - scrapped 1941

Blasewitz (1888-1906) : sold for use at Hameln - scrapped 1947

Loschwitz / Luzkec (1888-1906) : sold for use at Hameln - wrecked in Poland in 1944

Konigstein (1889-1919) : sold for use at Magdeburg, then Stettin (1920)

Stadt Wehlen (1890-1921) : sold for use at Prague - laid up in 1935 - scrapped 1937

Furst Bismarck / Herrnskretschen (1891-1921) : sold for use at Prague - scrapped 1967

Graf Moltke / Lobositz / Konigin Maria / Lobositz / Konigstein /Seeperle (1892-1970) : hull used as a restaurant at Seeburg
Schandau / Bad Schandau (1892-1977) : scrapped 1979

---- Tetschen / Krippen (1892) STILL IN SERVICE

Leitmeritz (1893-1945) : remained in Czechoslovakia after war, went to Russia - laid up 1958 - scrapped 1969

Austria (1893-1919) : sold for use at on the Elbe at Lauenburg - to Kiel 1953 as storage hulk - scrapped 1969

Prinz Georg / Konig Georg / Salesel (1894-1945) : remained in Czechoslovakia after war - laid up 1956 - scrapped 1959

Wettin / Aussig (1894-1945) : remained in Czechoslovakia after war - laid up 1966 - scrapped 1969

Prinz Friedrich August / Kronprinz (1895-1916) : to Weichsel in 1916 and Warsaw in 1918 - scrapped 1947

Prinzessin Luise / Kronprinzessin / Aussig (1895-1917) : to Weichsel in 1917 and Warsaw in 1919 - scrapped 1947

---- Bastei / Kurort Rathen (1896) STILL IN SERVICE

Bodenbach (1896-1945) : remained in Czechoslovakia after war - laid up 1959 - scrapped 1980

Nixe (1896-1900) : sold for use at Warsaw - wrecked in 1939

Hohenzollern / Meissen / Sachsen / Schmilka (1897-1985) : scrapped 2002

Habsburg / Riesa (1897-1976) : in use as a museum ship at Oderburg.

---- Konig Albert / Pirna (1898) STILL IN SERVICE

Karlsbad / Sachsen / Junger Pionier (1898-1986) : scrapped 2002

Auguste Victoria / Loschwitz (1899-1946) : transferred to the USSR

Kaiser Wilhelm II / Blasewitz (1900-1946) : transferred to the USSR

Konig Friedrich August / Rathen / Kurort Rathen (1911-1946) : transferred to the USSR

Kaiser Franz Josef / Saxonia / Laubegast / Krippen (1912-1946) : transferred to the USSR

Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg / Konigstein (1915-1946) : transferred to the USSR

Stadt Wehlen (1925-1946) : Hull built in 1916. Further construction deferred until 1924. Transferred to the USSR

---- Dresden (1926) STILL IN SERVICE

---- Leipzig (1929) STILL IN SERVICE
Diesel-Electric Paddlers
Ernst Thalmann 78 K Hoggett.jpg
Four identical Rosslau-built diesel-electric paddlers were introduced in 1963 and 1964 (Wilhelm Pieck), Three vessels were re-named in 1991 after the fall of the Communist government, but Karl Marx, already laid up awaiting refit, never sailed under its intended new name of Daniel Poppelmann as cash for the planned work ws not available. JF Bottger was withdrawn in 1992 Two large motor vessels took the names and places in the fleet of Grafin Cosel and August der Starke for the 1994 season onwards. Poppelmann and JF Bottger were refurbished as part of a skills development programme for unemployed people but put into static use at Dresden-Neustadt dock as youth hostel accommodation ships.

Length: 69.91 m - Breadth : 7.8 m / 13.3 m overall
Diesels : 2 x 340 HP cylinder units by Schwermaschinenbau Karl Liebknecht at Magdeburg
Electrical Drives : Twin motors by VEB Elbtalwerk at Heidenau

The photo above is of MPV Ernst Thalmann, taken at Terrassenufer, Dresden in 1978 and shown by kind courtesy of Kevin Hoggett

DEPV Karl Marx - Used as a hotel ship at Dresden-Neustadt with the name "Koje"

DEPV J.F. Bottger (ex - Friedrich Engels) -
Used as a accommodation ship for the YMCA at Dresden-Neustadt

DEPV Grafin Cosel (ex - Wilhelm Pieck) -
Scrapped 1998

DEPV August der Starke (ex-Ernst Thalmann) -
Scrapped 1998

Click here for more about the four MPVs

Company Names
1836-1865 : Elbdampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft

1865-1923 : Sachsisch-Bohmische-Dampfschiffahrts-Gesellschaft

1923-1948 : Sachsisch-Bohmische Dampfschiffahrt AG

1948-1950 : Elbeschiffahrt-Dresden

1950-1956 : Gesellschaft Deutsche Schiffahrts- und Umschlagsbetriebzentrale

1956-1990 : VEB Fahrgastschiffahrt Weisse Flotte Dresden

1990-1992 : Treuhandanstalt (pending sale to private interests of former East German State assets)

1992-Date : Sachsische Dampfschiffahrts GmbH & Co, Conti Elbschiffahrts KG

For a short time in the 1840s and 1850s there was limited and short-lived competition for the Dresden passenger trade : the Prague shipbuilder Ruston & Co with its steamers Germania and Bohemia, and the Vereinigte Hamburger-Magdeburger Dampschiffahrts Compagnie, which ran its PS Telegraph between Dresden and Meissen from 1848-1851.
Almost all vessels were built and repaired at the company's own yards at Dresden - at Blasewitz (1855-1896) and Laubegast (1896-date).The first and last vessels built at each yard were Stadt Meissen / Karlsbad and Auguste Victoria / Leipzig respectively. The Laubegast yard is now owned by the Deutsche Binnenwerften GmbH.
Re-use of Machinery
In the early years, engines were frequently saved from scrapped vessels and placed in the hulls of new vessels:

Konigin Maria (1837) to Konigin Maria (1847)

Prinz Albert (1839) to Prinz Albert (1845)

Friedrich August (1846) to Friedrich August (1855)

Konigin Maria (1847) to Maria (1860)

Bohemia (1841) to Stadt Meissen (1857)

Germania (1845) to Germania (1857)

Friedrich August (1855) to Graf Moltke (1892)

Franz Josef (1855) to Kaiser Franz Josef (1880)

Konig Johann (1856) to Saxonia (1862)

Stadt Meissen (1857) to Pillnitz (1884)

Germania (1857) to Meissen (1881)

Dresden (1857) to Dresden (1879)

Kronprinz (1858) to Kaiser Wilhelm (1887)

Konig Johann (1862) to Schandau (1892)

Raudnitz (1865) to Prinz Georg (1894)

Preservation of Machinery
Bohemia (1863) - Deutsches Museum, Munich

Libussa (1870) - Schiffahrtsmuseum, Duisburg-Ruhrort

Kaiser Franz Josef (1880) - Lauenburg Museum (includes paddle wheels)

Hohenzollern / Meissen / Sachsen / Schmilka (1897) - retained after scrapping of hull in 2002 for possible re-use

Karlsbad / Sachsen / Junger Pionier (1898) - - retained after scrapping of hull in 2002 for possible re-use

Note: Steering equipment of Schandau (1892) in the Verkehrsmuseum, Dresden

Paddle Tugs on the Elbe
The River Elbe is a significant freight artery, and was especially important in the early years of the 20th century. The memory of the large fleet of paddle tugs is retained by the preservation of the "Wurttemberg" at Magdeburg.

Go to : Wurttemberg

Internet link to photo archive of paddle (and other) tugs operational in the German Democratic Republic:
This includes the former paddle tug "Sudost", a river Oder tug whose hull still survives, on land beside the Hohenauer See, one of the river lakes in Berlin, at Semlin.
See this link for location :
Originally "Sudost" and sailing for the Furstenberg (Oder) Steamship Company, she was renamed "John Schehr" in 19609 when she was converted to a holiday-ship for children. Conversion took place at the Frohse Ship Repair yard. The ship was moored in the nearby Werlsee. The new vessel was completely changed in appearance and her paddle wheels were removed. It is not known when she was moved on to land but she forms part of an unused complex of wooden chalets - a summer camp from the old communist East German days. The ship has been up for sale for many years. John Schehr was a former leader of the German Communist Party who was murdered in 1934.

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River Elbe - Dresden
Historical Database