Voyage report of the 1st Seepost Hamburg - New York and New York - Hamburg aboard the steamer Albert Ballin (January 16 - February 15, 1925).

(After an original in the archives of the Postal Museum at Stephansplatz)
Hamburg, February 18, 1925
I. Departure:
1.) Seapost staff: Oberpostinspektor Dahlke, Postinspektor Zahn, Postassistent Neugebauer.
2.) Course of the trip:
Departure of the special train from Hamburg     16.1., 7.50 Uhr
Arv Cuxhaven     16.1., 10.08 Uhr
Departure of the steamer from Cuxhaven     16.1., 5.00 Uhr (6 Hours
      delay due to fog)
Arv Boulogne     17.1., 9.15 Uhr
Dep Boulogne     17.1., 10.30 Uhr
Arv Southampton     18.1., 5.30 Uhr
Dep Southampton     18.1., 3.00 Uhr (8 Hours
      delay due to fog)
Arv New York Quarantine     27.1., 7.00 Uhr
- Delivery of mail to the mail boat -.
At quay on 46th St.: 11:01 Uhr (landing of passengers). Duration of the crossing from Cuxhaven to New York until delivery of the mail
(16. 1., 5.00 Uhr to 27. 1, 7.00 Uhr)   10 Days 14 Hours
Plus time difference     6 Hours
    Total 10 Days 14 Hours
Reason for delay: fog (see above) and heavy weather on 6 days.
3.) Receipt of mail:
a) in Hamburg on 15. 1. Total Germany foreign countries
Parcel post 493 Sack 271 Sack 222 Sack
Letter mail 1 085 Sack 786 Sack 299 Sack
  1 578 Sack 1 057 Sack 521 Sack
b) in Cuxhaven Letter mail 587 Sack 464 Sack 123 Sack
(from the early trains 50 Sack)
c) in Boulogne Letter mail 7 Sack 7 Sack -----
d) in Southampton Letter mail 1 Sack ----- 1 Sack
Total 2 173 Sack 1 528 Sack 645 Sack
Thereof letter mail 1 680 Sack 1 257 Sack 423 Sack
4.) Opened and processed by Seapost:
40 sacks of letter mail, 47 sacks of printed matter, a total of 87 sacks.
5.) Delivered by the Seapost:
In Boulogne 1 sack for Boulogne
  1 sack for Bp (railroad mail) 10 Herbesthal-Cologne, passenger mail
At Southampton 1 Sack for Southampton
  1 Sack for Bp 10 Herbesthal-Köln
In New York 2,188 sacks (of which made by the Seapost 102 sacks). Acknowledgement by the New York Post Office of the receipt of this mail is available.
6.) Number of registered letters processed: 2 010, of which adopted by the Seapost 11 pieces.
7.) Proceeds for postage stamps: 1 122,05 M.
8.) Working time: 8 hours a day, noting, however, that the preparation for the performance of the new service (compartmentalization of the sorting lockers, sorting of the posts) took much more time than will be the case in the future.
II. Homeward journey:
1.) Seapost staff: In addition to the officials named in I. 1.), the American official Quigley accompanied the Seapost.
2.) Course of the trip:
Departure of the steamer from New York     5. 2., 10 Uhr
Arv Cherbourg     14.2., 3.30 Uhr
Dep Cherbourg     14.2., 5.30 Uhr
Arv Southampton     14.2., 11.10 Uhr
Dep Southampton     14.2., 12.15 Uhr
Arv Cuxhaven     15.2., 5.00 Uhr
Dep Cuxhaven     15.2., 6.47 Uhr
(by special train)
Arv Hamburg Hbf.     15.2., 8.47 Uhr
Duration of the crossing:   10 Days, 7 Hours
thereof time difference     6 Hours
    total 10 Days, 1 Hour
The first days very calm, then moderately agitated sea.
3.) Receipt of mail: Full mail for all Europe (last mail dispatch with D. France from New York 4.2. to Le Havre).
a) Parcel post
    1 145 Sack, thereof for France 41 Sack
  Total Germany foreign Countries
b) Letter mail
Letter mail 939 Sack 50 Sack 889 Sack
Printed matter 598 Sack 115 Sack 483 Sack
  1 537 Sack 165 Sack 1 372 Sack
in addition
Parcel post 1 145 Sack    
Total 2 682 Sack.    
4.) Opened and processed by the mail destined for Germany:
    37 Sack  Letter mail
    93 Sack  Printed matter
  total 130 Sack  
  remanufactured 142 Sack  
5.) Delivered by the Seapost:
In Cherbourg   710 Sack  Letter mail, including the urgent mail for Germany
    41 Sack  Parcel post
In Southampton   557 Sack  Letter mail
    460 Sack  Parcel post
In Cuxhaven   282* Sack  Printed matter mail for Germany and the Nordic countries
In Hamburg   644 Sack  Parcel post
    2 694 Sack.  
* The mail not destined for Hamburg - Arv. 8:47 Uhr - was still forwarded with the late trains.
6.) Number of registered letters processed:
3 196 Stück.
7.) Working time: Average daily 81/2 hours, but on the last two days in the Mainly only preparations for the service of the next seapost were made.

III. Service operation in general:

On the way out and home has been worked up. Letter mail to the United States has been processed in the manner customary before the war and also delivered to the mail boat in New York separately for New York DPO and New York Railroads. Registered card closings to the interior of the country, however, have been handled as closed mails on New York DPO because in the past these items had to be closed with special American locks. Letter mail for New York City remained unopened. City mail used to be handled with priority over other mail. According to an information in New York soil now the Dis mail is processed first, so that it does not disturb the New York operation.

On the homeward voyage, letter mail destined for Germany has been processed in accordance with the earlier clearance overviews. In deviation from this, however, the registered mail items were de-carded jointly by the American and a German official (Postal Inspector Zahn), whereupon the items passed into the custody of the German official and were summarily dispatched by him to the German offices. The items were not entered in lists, as was the case before the war, has not taken place, which has saved a great deal of time. The American registered mail lists now remain with the German seaports for possible inquiries. The American registered mail lists now remain with the German Seepostpapiere for possible investigations.

The urgent mail has been dispatched to Cherbourg, the non-urgent mail, in addition to the mail destined for Germany and the Nordic empires, has been rejected in Cuxhaven.

In my experience, urgent letter mail to and from America is now considerably stronger than before the war; namely, registered mail from America has increased many times over. The processing of the mail therefore takes more time than before the war. Seaposts that receive more than one day's mail are therefore staffed with at least four forces (one German, one American official, two German conductors).

The ship's management has shown every courtesy to the seapost and has provided it with the sailors required for untagging, reading, etc., (1-4 men) without delay.

IV. Consultation with the Superintendent of Foreign Mails in New York regarding mail delivery to German seaposts.

The Seapost staff reported to the Superintendent of Foreign Mails in New York at 10 a.m. the day after arrival. The reception was cordial. To my question, asked in the course of the conversation, whether the seapost would receive full mail and would be accompanied by an American official, I was told that the decision on this from Washington was still pending. I was presented with a translation of the letter from the RPM to Washington dated December 3, to which P. M. Gen. It was added that the matter could not yet be clearly overlooked and would therefore have to be examined further. The Superintendent and the other officials present assured me, however, that New York was in favor of the establishment of German-American services. If the approval from Washington was received in time, the official Quigley would accompany the seapost, likewise the steamer would receive the full mail for all of Europe. In the absence of the order, the official would not be able to travel, but the seapost would receive the mail arriving after the departure of the steamer France to Le Havre - from New York 4. 2. - thus a one-day mail for Germany. The remaining mail would have to be given to the steamer Berengaria - from 7. 2. - which would deliver it in Cherbourg and Southampton one day earlier than the steamer Albert Ballin. I declared that I was not satisfied with this and pointed out that with similar schedules, the American seaposts from Hamburg and Bremen always received the full German and foreign mail. It would therefore only be fair play if the seaposts now established in New York were to be supplied to the same extent with all mail for Germany and foreign countries. In the course of the conversation, which was otherwise conducted in English I finally expressed the intention of going to Washington myself in order to ask the responsible gentleman, Mr. Edwin Sands, whom I had known personally in the past, to bring about a decision in the matter, which had been pending for a long time. I received the promise that an American official, who had free travel on all railroads, would go to Washington and provide definitive information. The gentlemen, however, wished to see the sea mail rooms on the steamer Albert Ballin. By agreement with the ship's management, the gentlemen were invited to do so on Jan. 30. The officials were appreciative in every respect of the sea mail rooms, which had been freshly painted in New York. On the other hand, they refused to allow the American officials to occupy the post office cabin provided for two officials, because neither its location within the 2nd class nor its simple furnishings would meet reasonable requirements. It is an outside cabin located on the lowest living deck of 2nd class, which is less comfortably furnished than that of the German conductor. The German official made the same complaint. For myself, the Hamburg-America Line had provided me with a cabin in 1st class. It will be advisable to persuade the Hamburg-America Line to provide a better situated cabin, which would then also have to be equipped like a 1st class cabin. In the following days I repeatedly spoke to the Superintendent of Foreign Mails, but only learned on the day before departure that the two Hamburg steamships would now have joint seaposts and that they would always receive full mail. Before that, I had received the telegraphic inquiry from Washington to the the RPM concerning the manning of American ships with German officials. The Superintendent also mentioned that the steamers Resolute, Reliance, and Cleveland would now also be manned with common seaposts, if the ships would fly the American or even the German flag instead of the Panama flag. For the rest, more details were, under which conditions the joint maritime service would be carried out on German and American ships could not be obtained in New York.

V. Miscellaneous

In order to promote the establishment of joint seaposts, I wrote a small article for the New York newspapers on January 28 in consultation with the New York general representative of the Hamburg-Amerika-Linie, to the effect that the first seapost Hamburg-New York arrived with the steamer Albert Ballin and rejected 2,288 sacks. The German personnel were primarily determined to sort mail for Germany, but in the absence of the American official they also sorted mail to the interior of the United States, etc. The article has appeared in most New York newspapers, though abridged here and there. I enclose the clipping from one newspaper. I also note that the representative of the Hamburg-America Line requested the addition of my name, because the Hamburg-America Line in New York could not yet publish anything that would resemble an extraordinary advertisement.

signed Dahlke, OPI.


J'l of Commerce Jan. 30. 1925
Operation of the German sea post service from Hamburg on German steamers, which was suspended in 1914, was resumed through the efforts of the Minister of Posts of Germany on the westbound trip of the steamer Albert Ballin, which arrived Tuesday from Hamburg with 2,288 bags of mail. Albert Dahlke chief inspector of the German Postal Service, is in charge of the inauguration of this new facility and heads a staff of three clerks from Hamburg. It is hoped that in the near future American sea post clerks will take charge of the sorting of mail intended for America. The sorting and distribution of mail during the ocean voyage expedites its delivery about twenty-four hours. It is planned to continue this German sea post service from Hamburg on the next sailing on the Deutschland.


"Postgeschichtliche Blätter Hamburg", Issue 31/1988
Note: The Post Museum at Stephansplatz in Hamburg mentioned at the beginning no longer exists since 2009.

Copyright Jürgen Kuseler 2023