Memorial Ghost Ship
The so-called „ghost ship" is a former mine sweeper built in the years 1918/1919 in the Seebeck shipping yard.
Due to numerous defects the ship was already taken out of service in 1928 and was then sold to the company Mützelfeldt in Cuxhaven in 1930. In May 1933 it was bought by the Marine-SA in Bremerhaven. After the ship was brought to Bremerhaven in June she was first docked in the New Harbor and then from July 1933 was docked in the Old Harbor where she served as a special interrogation ship by the Marine-SA.
After the takeover of Adolf Hitler on January 30th, 1933, also on the Lower Weser, as in all of Germany, the so-called commando raids were formed by the SA. Their task was to help the political police, later the Gestapo, with the pursuit of political opponents. The SA troops were handed over their victims, in the most cases communists and social democrats by the police for interrogation when the police were not able to get the requested information from them.
The SA was part of the auxiliary police and also held state functions, thus the commando raids also independently carried out their duties. The marauding SA roamed the streets and randomly arrested the regime opponents known to them.
The minesweeper, which was docked somewhat off to the side in the harbor, was according to the SA a good location to torture their opponents without attracting the public. The „interrogations" were brutal torturing in order to force their victims to commit to supposedly committed crimes. The defenceless were beaten into unconsciousness with rubber clubs, steel rods, clubs with nails and bare fists. After pouring ice cold harbor water over them the torturing started anew. In order to suppress the screams of the tortured pillows were pressed into their faces. Due to the terrible maltreatments the ship soon was referred to in common parlance in Bremerhaven as the „ghost ship".
In October 1933 the torturing gradually stopped. Political enemies were deported to the concentration camps in Neuengamme, Sachsenhausen or Dachau. How many people were kidnapped aboard the „ghost ship" cannot be clearly determined. The number however goes into the hundreds. The subsequent whereabouts of the ship is also unclear. It is said that the ship was scrapped in October 1944.
Fifteen years after the maltreatments, in October 1948, the so-called „ghost ship" lawsuit began at the regional court in Bremerhaven. The eleven accused SA men were sentenced to one year imprisonment and up to ten years of prison.
In commemoration of the victims a memorial plaque was mounted to the bascule bridge between the Old and New Harbor. The plaque mounted in May 1991 states: „In the year 1933 the „ghost ship" was docked in the Old and New Harbor. Aboard this ship people were beaten and tortured by the SA for their political convictions." (Source: City Archives Bremerhaven)
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