On the site of the former Karlsburg fortress: The former emigrants' house and the Bremerhaven College of today
The Bremerhaven College was founded on 1st of September 1975 and teaches different technological sciences, logistics and information technology. The central department is situated in a historic setting.
The disastrous Thirty-Year War (1618-1648) resulted in the stationing of Swedish troops in Northern Germany. In 1672, Swedish engineers began the construction of a fortress at the mouth of the River Geeste. A city named after King Carl XI (1660-1697) at the base of the fortress was planned but never realized; the fortress was also given up. Two streets („An der Karlsstadt“ and „Karlsburg“ near the bridge) still remind us of that specific heritage.
Near the former Swedish settlement, work on an emigrants' house was started in April 1849. The Bremerhaven forwarder Johann Georg Claussen (1808-1885) had a building constructed in contemporary brickwork, round-arch style and with neo-gothic gables. The design was by the renowned Bremen architect Heinrich Müller (1819-1890).
Until that establishment was created, justified complaints of the emigrants concerning criminal activities and fraud in the city where they had arrived as complete strangers were not uncommon. After its completion, nine large dormitories as well as single rooms provided accommodation for up to 2000 emigrants who had arrived by land or boat. Waiting for embarkation was now more convenient. Meals could be made for 3500 people daily. Sailors and stevedores ate there too due to the fact that the authorities had banned cooking on board in the port for fire safety reasons. The building was also subject to hygiene inspections.
When the railway connection between Bremen and Bremerhaven came into service, the emigrants were now able to arrive just in time and no longer had to wait for their departures. So in 1865, the emigrants' house ceased to be used. In 1871, soldiers moved in. In 1890, a brewery purchased the building, which was converted in 1890 and 1913, the original construction being partly pulled down. After the brewery (named “Karlsburg” in historical reminiscence) had closed down, the State of Bremen acquired the whole estate in 1979 as a site for the Bremerhaven College.
A prominent architect from Aachen, Professor Gottfried Böhm (born in 1920) drafted plans together with his Cologne colleague G.F. Adolphi. The whole building is an interesting combination of old parts of the emigrants' house and new buildings: red brick architecture, large glass facades and blue window frames form both linking and transparent elements, as Böhm explained in his design intentions. The construction works lasted from 1982 until 1985, and then the college had found adequate accommodation. A new building, financed by private capital, was added in 1998.
The new German Emigrant Museum of 2005 at the New Harbor basin reminds the visitor of the original function of the historic parts of Bremerhaven College.