BY RICHARD T. CLAUS
MARKLIN #5050 7/E “DEUTSCHLAND,” CATALOGED 1909-1915
SHIPS HAVE FASCINATING HISTORIES and their toy counterparts are no different. As bigger and faster ocean liners evolved and plied the Atlantic during the early part of the 20th century, their toy representations became objects of excitement for their young admirers. No doubt the parents who bought these toys were equally enthralled.
The director-general of the Hamburg American Line (HAPAG), Albert Ballin (1857-1918), almost single-handedly built that company into not only Germany’s, but the world’s largest merchant fleet. By 1915 it had 175 ships. Driving this expansion was the trans-Atlantic immigrant trade to the United States. The Deutschland was HAPAG’s first and only Blue Riband holder. On its maiden voyage , July 4,1900, it took the record Atlantic crossing from the Nordeutscher – Lloyd express steamer Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse at a speed of 22.42 kn. Although an amazing feat at the time, due to the 37800 HP reciprocating engines required, the ship developed a reputation for noise and vibration Deutschland held the Blue Riband for 6 years. Subsequently Ballin chose luxury over speed in the design of HAPAG ships, launching Amerika (1904), Kaiserine Auguste Victoria (1905), and the behemoths Imperator (1912 ) and Vaterland (1913 ). In 1911 Deutschland’s engines were rebuilt with less horsepower. The ship was renamed Victoria Luise, painted white, and assigned to cruise service. Because of reduced performance, Victoria Luise did not serve as a commerce raider during WW-I, and unlike other HAPAG liners, she was not confiscated by the allies following
the conflict. In 1919 the ship was arguably the only trans-Atlantic liner left in the once mighty German merchant fleet. The
Deutschland/Victoria Luise / Hansa was scrapped in 1925.