The 'Official' Maiden Voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff
April 21st, 1938 - May 6th, 1938

Original Journal from the 'Official' Maiden Voyage of the "Wilhelm Gustloff"
April 21, 1938 to May 6th, 1938

Written on board the flagship of the KdF by passenger Elisabeth Dietrich.
     Where does one begin to find the words to describe this journal!? A great, 41 page first hand account written by Elisabeth Dietrich during the first official maiden voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Mrs. Dietrich describes waiting at the rail station, getting her boarding information, and the fanfare at the harbor of the Gustloff leaving port on her trip. After getting settled into her cabin, she describes the 'intolerable' heat which made her take off her clothes and the sheets off her cabin bed.
     The second day (Friday, April 22nd), she provides information on the death of Captain Lübbe on the bridge and the funeral on board. She notes they laid anchor off the port of Dover on the French coast (since France was not a direct ally of Germany, the Gustloff did not enter the harbor) and unloaded his coffin onto another ship entering the harbor to be taken dockside.
     The majority of the journal discusses the interiors of the Gustloff and her noting that "everything seems to be covered of plastic on board." All of her major rooms are visited and recorded, in addition to things like the crew training passengers on "How to make a Lifejacket." Specific books from the library read, movies viewed and shows watched are all noted in detail through the pages.
     The arrival in Lisbon made the biggest news, with bands, Nazi flags being distributed to passengers, and busses waiting to take passengers inland. Elisabeth writes:
     (Then we heard) "Attention! Regard! All members of the IG: paint industry meet at the bus directly in front of "Wilhelm Gustloff". "IG-mates were all excited to see what was to come. And right on the bus, we learned it: We were for April 26th, 1938 visitors to our office in Lisbon!"
     Several of the next pages describe her and her cabin mates adventures in Portugal and their return to the ship eventually. Wednesday the 27th she reports that Captain Peterson has taken command of the Wilhelm Gustloff. She mentions that the old bridge flag was taken to be placed with Lübbe, while Peterson brought a new Nazi flag to fly from the ship. 
     On May 1st, she describes a lifeboat drill, her cabin (#62) and their lifeboat (#9), and on May 4th, she went to an on board lecture entitled "The Machinery of the MS Wilhelm Gustloff." Mrs. Deitrich took notes on the entire lecture and the lecture has been posted below.
     The information in her writing is priceless to the Wilhelm Gustloff's history and there is so much more than some highlights above. It is interesting how throughout the trip, she notes the specific movements of the ships of the KdF fleet - Der Deutche, Sierra Cordoba, Monte Olivia, Oceana and others down to the sailing ship Grand Duchess Elizabeth, firetugs, tankers, and several u-boats including the U-22. Did you know Captain Lübbe wasn't the only person to pass away on her maiden voyage? It's all in here!

     As if the contents of this journal weren't enough, Mrs. Dietrich also included several newspaper clippings in the latter pages of the journal which can all be viewed at right.  

The Machinery of the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff
Lecture given on board the ship Wednesday, May 4th, 1938, while sailing through the Norma Islands.
                                                                              Notes taken by: Elisabeth Deitrich

Lecture: "The Machinery of the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff"

     The Command Bridge is the brain of the ship, the machines are the heart of the ship. Both belong together. There are 4 main engines for the forward movement of the ship = single action 2-stroke diesel engines (history of diesel). Each of the 4 engines has 8 cylinders with a diameter 520mm, stroke 700mm, at 220 revolutions per minute, each produces 3,000 indexed horsepower. Two main engines as a pair, work with the screws joined with the shafts. We have two screws. The shafts have a length of 75m, each, diameter 35cm. (sections of about 10m each). Screw diameter from blade end to blade end, 5m, each with 4 blades. Pitch of the screw is 5 1/8m. Weight of a screw is 15,000 kgs., thus heavier than a big railroad car. 2 screws as a reserve. Cooling of the cylinders with fresh water; cooled by seawater, back to the tank, almost without a loss, cooling of the pistons with oil, reuse see fresh water. The exhaust gas heat 2 tanks that can also be heated with oil. Steam for the hot water heating and for the ultra-modern laundry (almost 20 hundredweight of washing each day, including ironing etc.); for the kitchen with its cooking kettles, dishwashing and other machinery, for the baths. ​    

     ​​Auxiliary power from five 4 stroke single action diesel engines for each 380 kilowatts power for light and power. Everything is cooked and baked with electricity. Ventilator motors are electrical, some other 200 electro motors for technical purposes (gyrocompass with automatic pilot. Radio station with telephone= one of the most modern in the world. 4 channel send and 4 channel receiving. 2 emergency radios that are fed from their own batteries). The principal task of the radio station is to assist the ship's command, but also the passengers. 3 to 4 work stations at the same time, (f.ex. telephone calls to Cuxhaven, Norddeich; traffic with other ships, etc.). Radio system. Except for two, all other life boats are motor driven. 30 hand activated fire alarms. Illumination, it is very impressive = 7,900 illumination contacts on board, large search lights and high intensity lamps of 40-60 watts. Emergency generator, in case of illumination failure, automatic start of the essential lighting = German law.

     The entire German industry was involved in building the M.S. "Wilhelm Gustloff". Unfortunately, I could hear this interesting presentation not quite up to its end, as the horn was blown for the 1st group to eat. 13h: I visited the radio station and viewed the laundry. (Laundry, drying room in the B-Deck)

     14h: I visited the kitchen, which is located on the A-Deck (Behind the front dining room.) A young chef from Garmisch explains everything. There are 7 large kitchens in this kitchen boiler, 4 large electric ovens, various machines for everything. The meat is taken in as frozen meat.

(End Lecture Notes.)

Thanks for the translation of the maiden voyage journal goes to Werner Hinke.

German Reich Sailor's Discharge Book #2 - Issued in Hamburg, September 20th, 1928.
Sailor Hans Conrad: Born July 10th, 1905 in Hamburg
Originally issued for the KdF Liner Monte Olivia.

This 64 page 11 cm x 17.8 cm book includes a maritime record of journeys by Mr. Conrad on the liners:
Monte Olivia - 8/7/28 to 8/27/28
​Cap Polonio
- 9/10/28 to 10/20/28 - Kapitän Blauert
- 10/29/29 to 3/1/30
​Monte Pascoal
- Kapitän Blauert, Signed First Officer Bertram (Later Gustloff Captain).
​D. Usaramo -
7/23/35 to 8/3/35
​Oldenburg -
10/3/35 to 2/24/35
- 11/30/36 to 5/31/37 - Kapitän Breckwoldt
Monte Pascoal - 7/26/37 to 9/6/37 - Kapitän Maass
​Wilhelm Gustloff
- 3/14/38 to 7/14/38 - Kapitän Lübbe / Kapitän Petersen
​The book also contains a laundry card from the MS "Monte Pascoal", which was lodged in the back.

The Wilhelm Gustloff Connection:

     What makes this passport special is that it has the Wilhelm Gustloff's very first sea trial voyage stamped inside - March 14th, 1938. This is the very first time that the Wilhelm Gustloff sets sail on the open water in the North Sea. This is to be her first test run as a completed passenger liner under Kapitän Lübbe. The trip is labeled on the passport as unbestimmte Zeit, or indefinite period.
     ​The last entry in this passport is just as interesting as the first - which states that Mr. Conrad was on board the Wilhelm Gustloff from her very first trial voyage - March 14th, 1938 all the way to July 14th, 1938. This was the day the Wilhelm Gustloff completed her voyage from Italy to Hamburg after attending the Italian World Congress in Rome - a two-week trip.
     ​It must have been quite an amazing time to be on board the ship - which encompassed all her sea trials, voyage with the Pegaway rescue, London polling station trip, both unofficial and official maiden voyages, and her first few voyages including the special cruise he ended on. His entries stop after this final discharge as war looms just over a year away.
     ​Otto's log book (under the Building and Launch page) has him boarding the ship even earlier than Hans - March 11th 1938. Of course Otto also remains on the ship until her last voyage. In both cases, Kapitän Lübbe's signature is a stamp rather than handwritten. The only handwritten signature I found of Kapitän Lübbe was a signed postcard.

​​German Reich Sailor's Discharge Book #3 - Issued in Hamburg, 9/9/ 1933
​     The third Sailor's Log Book comes from Hugo Müller: Born December 16th, 1914 in Hamburg. His records are as follows: ​

- 9/9/33 to 11/6/33 - Kapitän Nichen
- 12/16/33 to 3/31/34 - Kapitän W. Dröge
​Monte Olivia
- 5/14/34 to 10/15/34 - Kapitän Höpfner
​Monte Olivia
- 10/16/34 to 12/20/34 - Kapitän Petersen
- 12/29/34 to 3/9/37 - Kapitän Block
- 9/28/38 to 10/3/38 - Kapitän Elsner
​Wilhelm Gustloff
- 10/11/38 to 3/30/39 - Kapitän Bertram
- 12/5/41 to 12/19/41 - Kapitän Nobmaun F. 75 - 1/6/42 to 4/11/44 - Rüdolf Nesbeda - II Off.
​The final date is May 8th, 1945.​

​​German Reich Sailor's Discharge Book #4 - Issued in Hamburg, 9/4/ 1930

​     The fourth Sailor's Log Book comes from steward Pierre Cyrus: Born April 9th, 1892. His log book also starts with the Wilhelm Gustloff's very first sea trial voyage stamped inside - March 14th, 1938. This is the very first time that the Wilhelm Gustloff sets sail on the open water in the North Sea. His records are as follows:

Monte Rosa - 6/19/34 to 9/3/34
​Cap Arcona
- 1/23/35 to 5/21/35
​Monte Pascoal
- 6/19/35 to 9/23/35
​Cap Arcona
- 12/20/35 to 1/8/36 - Signed Bertram, I Officer. (Later Gustloff Captain).
Monte Olivia - 6/9/36 to 9/7/36 - Kapitän Petersen
​Monte Olivia
- 4/14/37 to 6/14/37 - Kapitän Petersen
​Monte Pascoal
- 6/22/37 to 9/27/37 - Kapitän Maass
​Wilhelm Gustloff
- 3/14/38 to 7/24/38 - Kapitän Lübbe / Kapitän Petersen
Monte Pascoal - 7/28/38 to 9/26/38 - Kapitän Maass

Maiden Voyage Newspaper Articles

First set of tickets - Image #6:
Carl Hagenbeck's Tierpark, Stellingen
Adult ticket
Valid for one visit 
Admittance with this Card - one store. Needs to be shown on request.

Aquaruim - Reptile House

Madeirafahrt: "Wilhelm Gustloff" - Article - Image #7:
The First Holiday Travel

Madeira trip "Wilhelm Gustloff"
With "Oceana" - Puppet Theater Saar-Palatinate on board
Hamburg, 22 April.

     Once again, through the Port of Hamburg on Thursday another big day is lived. The KdF tourist ship "Wilhelm Gustloff" took its first major trip that sails with the rest of KdF fleet to Madeira. Early in the morning the main train station awoke bustling with life. From all parts of the German native land met the happy minded men and women of work, to go with "their" ship out into the distance, in the sunny south. In groups of 30 to 50 for the "Wilhelm Gustloff", and 100 for the "Oceana". They came and saw the first ever new and beautiful image of the harbor diverse with its vibrant life. While also in Hamburg on board the "Oceana", 700 compatriots from Schleswig Holstein, East Hanover, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, East Prussia and Danzig met, riding with the "Wilhelm Gustloff". Men and women from all ethnic Germans and German districts. The widow of the unforgettable Wilhelm Gustloff also took part in the ride.
     At 10:30 the clock sounds and the embarkation begins - and the afternoon will be the start of the voyage. With flags flying high, the two majestic giants that the new Germany has built for the community and its creative people gleam amidst the hustle bustle of the towering masts. Countless people poured across the pier and besieged the two ships on the decks; happy people were waving and singing.  The ship's band played tirelessly. When the hands moved to 3:00 on the Tower of Michel, the landmark of Hamburg and under the German maritime watch, everything was ready for departure. Rejoicing sounded "Sieg Heil to the Führer", to which Germany owes everything beautiful and great, on the arms, sounded the full power hum of the nation. Then the "Wilhelm Gustloff" was underway in the howling of the sirens in slow motion. Soon after the rain with the elements followed the long familiar "Oceana", the sister ship.
     On several ships of the fleet KdF were several German artists and poets, English journalists take part as representatives of a number of British newspapers. Further, guests included the "Cologne Hänneschen", Hohnsteiner Puppet Theatre, the Puppet Theater Saar-Palatinate and Hitler Jugend. Games are played by crowds on board the KdF ships and the tourists among the many find the trip will be wonderful and also no one can complain about lack of entertainment.

Obituary for Captain Carl Lübbe - Image #8:
Kapitäin Carl Lübbe
     On Friday afternoon, the captain of the KdF ship "Wilhelm Gustloff", Carl Lübbe, as the proud ship captain among the steamers "Sierra Cordoba, ""Der Deustche", and "Oceana" was on his Madeira trip in the North Sea, and at the age of 55 years, died of a heart attack.

Tragedy in the KdF Fleet - The Death of Kapitän Carl Lübbe - Image #9:
Mourning of the KdF Fleet
The Captain of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" died of a heart attack on board the "Wilhelm Gustloff"
23. April 
     Captain Lübbe was on the trip to Madeira located on board KdF ship "Wilhelm Gustloff" at noon on Friday, at the age of 58, riding on the high seas was killed from a heart attack. For 48 hours, the tour guide has arranged the funeral aboard. The "Wilhelm Gustloff" will start in Dover, where the mortal remains of Lübbe will be readied for release into his homeland and preparations are conducted. 
     A few moments before his unexpected transition home, Captain Lübbe was on the bridge in command and steered the course of our ship. The country and with it the 1,500 holiday travelers are deeply shocked of the death of this man. The thousands KdF travelers to whom he led on countless trips holiday delights have him as a leader and role model for classmates and met the criteria for an outstanding sailor. 
     One of his proudest rides should now be his last. Just as he was preparing to settle in on the maiden trip of his most beautiful ship "Wilhelm Gustloff" to take German workers to the south, death snatched him away. For the German workers and for the idea of National Socialism his whole heart beat, he served as the first captain of the fleet until the last breath. As a seaman Captain Lübbe received fine awards by the transfer of the Supreme Command on Germany's first working ship "Wilhelm Gustloff". The whole commercial marine and above all "Hamburg Sud", have been affected by the death of Kaptiän Lübbe deeply.
     Before the mortal remains of Captain Lübbe be led off board, holiday travelers will have a funeral memorial for him. The "Wilhelm Gustloff" will then continue their trip under the command of Officer Grist.

KdF fleet of High Speed
Joyful encounter at sea
On board the "Wilhelm Gustloff"
23. April

     The experienced workers on Germany's fleet moving to their Madeira holiday on Friday afternoon at the meeting of the three "Strength through Joy" ships at sea. Then at 13 o'clock, the leading ship of Hamburg "Wilhelm Gustloff" with the coming of Bremen steamers "Sierra Cordoba" and "Der Deutsche" came together in the North Sea. The "Wilhelm Gustloff", the youngest, most beautiful and largest ship on the ship fleet, which runs considerably slower follows, at a greater distance.

     The encounter of the thousands of German tourists on the high seas brought all an unforgettable experience, from ship to ship, there was a cordial greeting with joyful waving. Music sounded, humorous chants were heard from board to board and across the wide water echoed the healing call, and the mutual wish for a "safe journey". On Thursday at dusk the "Wilhelm Gustloff" arrived in the Elbe estuary, three German U-boats that passed in silhouette. The crews of the boats were lined up in full dress, having been welcomed by the healing call thousands of German workers on the "Wilhelm Gustloff" with roaring. On board is also the widow of Wilhelm Gustloff, the godmother of this beautiful ship, and Lizzie Kiessling, the sponsor of the recently launched KdF second large ship "Robert Ley".

Life On Board the Wilhelm Gustloff - Image #10:
The KDF Fleet on the Road
Life On Board
Unforgettable impressions for all travelers
On board the "Wilhelm Gustloff"
25. April 

     The KdF fleet is on its long journey to the south pass through the channel and it's since Saturday evening on the Atlantic Ocean. For us all, but especially for the working people who have never seen the sea, the trip on the wide water, is a tremendous experience. The often stormy Gulf of Biscana, which was crossed on Sunday, was found by the German holiday travelers to be very friendly and gentle minded. The "Wilhelm Gustloff" is on the orders of the fleet to follow at a small distance the "Sierra Cordoba" and "Der Deutsche". Many ships of foreign nations, which met KdF fleet on their way, look over in admiration at the proud German working fleet. It is on the ships that all are in happy anticipation of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, which we will start on Tuesday morning. The Spring sea air and sun already had an invigorating effect on the tourists, and above all the excellent galley prepared great food. But with artistic performances one contributes to the holiday joy. On Sunday, the KdF traveller enjoyed breakfast in the morning and later on board, the HJ radio played host to part of the Imperial Station Leipzig. In the evening in the magnificent rooms of the ship a diverse artistic program was offered. Having fun preparing the Austrian poet Hans Gustl Kernmanr with a reading from his latest book "A People's Home". The Hohnsteiner puppet-players showed puppet theater in its purest form. Anni Frind, the soprano, pianist Friss Kullmann and the ship's orchestra, led by G.A. Weissenborn, offered a full-rich numeral concert. All tourists also had the opportunity to visit the bridge and the engine room of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" and in just mind and heart to know of their great and beautiful ship, the most modern ship in the world.

Arrival in Lisbon - Image #11:
Arrival in Lisbon
Great interest in the KdF Fleet
Lisbon, 27 April.

     The KDF fleet of ships "Wilhelm Gustloff", "Der Deutsche", and "Sierra Cordoba", met Tuesday morning at 7 o'clock in Lisbon. The arrival had been announced in detail by the Portuguese press. Particularly aroused the ship "Wilhelm Gustloff", whose facilities in Portuguese were circling great interest, had been eagerly awaited. At the port gathered for the warm welcome of tourists, the German colony of Lisbon. Among others, the German ambassador, the regional director and the local branch of the NSDAP and DAF were released in Lisbon. In addition, many Portuguese and in particular representatives of the Portuguese organizations "Strength through Joy" had arrived. The "Wilhelm Gustloff" came as the first private tourist boat ready for the KdF, having the undivided admiration of the Portuguese people, especially members of the international press.

Kapitän Carl Lübbe Funeral in Hamburg - Image #12:
     Reich Organization Director Dr. Ley puts down at the grave of the so recently deceased master of the flagship KdF "Wilhelm Gustloff" in the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in Hamburg, a wreath of the leader.

Memorial for Wilhelm Gustloff Victim - Image #13:

After being anxious. Month. Uncertainty was painful. We now secure news that our dear, unforgettable daughter
Gisela Selinger
The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff on 30. 1. 1945 at the age of 20 years had to sacrifice her young life. In deep grief we bow before the authorization of God. Providence and ask for prayers for the dead.
Jacob Selinger and wife Maria, born in Hemer, and daughter, Emmy, also on behalf of all members.
The 1 Official death on Sunday, 27 1, read at 9.30 clock in the United Bockenheim. - Obrigheim, 23 January 1946.

Arbeitertum - May 15th, 1938
Special report on the maiden voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

We set sail!
Vacation days on the flagship KdF

From on board the M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff by our contained special reporter.

     A good way down the river Elbe, the "Wilhelm Gustloff" has already come, as the guide to holiday companions and the broad Sun Deck to welcome passengers. All German provinces have sent work comrades who are now experiencing the first big trip of the "Wilhelm Gustloff". Many foreign comrades are among German people that participate with special pleasure in this maiden voyage of the ship. 
     The work-mates have been taken from their chambers and are full of admiration and pride assured by society due space and paced about the decks. People probably already have all heard of the design and the facilities of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" or read their wildest expectations have been exceeded yet. "This beautiful and proud ship belongs to the German Labor Front, and so you!" shouts the guide to the holiday companions. The few hours that the comrades are on board have already suffices to make them grow to the heart of this ship. The consciousness of a piece of property right to vacation on this ship now for more than two weeks means the home satisfied, each with grateful joy and satisfaction. As the first evening falls, the tourists are already a big family, as in a ship is said to be "Strength through Joy" fleet.

Mourning On board 

     Overshadowing the first day of the journey through is the grief of the ships leader, Captain Lübbe, who was recalled from the midst of his work in death. His funeral service took place on board with vacationers and all were possessed with grief for the farewell to the dead. The sound of the German hymns, the mortal remains of the harbor entrance taken off the ship before the Captains of Dover. We want to take the blow that the fate inflicted on us by the death of the Captain, as men, so the guide calls out in his departing words. We have not only lost the leader of the ship, but a good friend and comrade.

The Journey Continues!

     Second night on board. It is quiet in the ship. The seriousness of the funeral service in the evening twilight has not disappeared. Slowly the tourists begin to terms with the inevitable. But it can still creative atmosphere. Far behind the horizon dip the KdF ships "Der Deutsche", and "Sierra Cordoba", which sailed by during the funeral service at the "Wilhelm Gustloff". A bright, sunny day has dawned. We find ourselves still in the channel, there are strong side shines the French coast. After the tragic incident occurs now the joy in their rights continues. On all the decks in the gym and the swimming pool and in the lounge life begins to pulsate.

     The weather is also expected to shine again. It is already remarkable. no trace of the winds, which the has "Wilhelm Gustloff" about standing on its test drives. A very light wind moves the sea, the ship swayed gently in the swell. The fear of the evil Bay of Biscana turns out to be completely superfluous. The sun is shining bright over the ship. It also attracts the light from the interior spaces. It is ready even - the time to force card players on the Sun Deck. There is, however, continued to play.

From Morning to Midnight

     How do you live now on the "Wilhelm Gustloff"? How to spend the holiday his time? One might say that proves in the most perfect ensured that all just pursuits, is taken into account. Because the food is what it is except basic condition of human existence, such initially be from eating the vine. What tourists  see when viewing the menu, at the beginning of the trip for possible stops, enters view: you eat by the equally numerous and varied meals through. Another important function in human life fulfilled sleeping. Apart from sleep, which has a curfew as establishing a perfectly natural and even necessary length, the particular need of rest as needed all the time, he has left between meals overslept. Especially popular is the community of sleepers in the sun on the large Sports Deck. Those who love peace, everywhere one finds in any case a quiet cove.
     Of course, a sea journey is too interesting to be sleepy. Most tourists are, therefore, the whole day on your feet, look at the always new and wonderful play of waves, wave to passing ships. In addition, however, the number of board games that are on the very large Sports Deck of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" can hold many tourists at the same time, do not forget.
For the design of its afternoon-evening program offers in many ways the holiday. Since organized concerts, held talks. Games presented, movies roll on, it can dance, short, all types of entertainment are presented. Who wants to join entertains all this is not, on his way should not bored anyone, he carries out only one to blame. 
     So it is for the welfare of all travelers on the best organized. Who wants to be left alone, they will find who likes a lot and eats well, here is where the offer, the sports person can be a substantially transparent, a Merry Round Upper finds a third man to play cards you everywhere. More may require a person impossible, and so are they also leave the comrades on the "Wilhelm Gustloff" in the few days of their being together really become a big family, as it has the desired tour guide in his welcoming speech.

And Tomorrow Comes Ashore

     Throughout the ship plans are made. Plans related to life on land in Lisbon. It is the first time that enter the holiday ground. Anticipation is now over the whole community. Know a foreign country to win in the life of a foreign people insight, is a great experience. But one thing is fixed for every holiday comrades: he knows that he is on foreign soil representative of his homeland and his people. He is also aware that he is thus one is trust, he must not shame. He is proud that he outside than German workers may occur in the world. These findings will be decisive for its occurrence. This is his sanction to the man who has given the German people his reputation and his position of power in the world: Adolf Hitler. "

Photo Captions from the Wilhelm Gustloff's  Maiden Voyage:
#1: Everywhere something is going on board: board games promenade concert, etc.
#2: In the Fencing Hall, edged cross swords can be found.
#3: Bike race around the clock.
#4: He also is involved: motion of the ship can not harm the good food.
#5: In Lisbon! First communication attempts with the locals!

Wilhelm Gustloff Maiden Voyage Film
"Schiff Ohne Klassen" - Ship Without Classes
April 21st, 1938 - May 6th, 1938
     After returning from the coast of England in its role as a floating polling station, the Wilhelm Gustloff prepares to begin its more typical cruise program. The Gustloff will provide low-priced / high-value cruise vacations for German workers. Costs of a cruise are typically 1/4 to 1/3 the price of similar European offerings. During summer months, it will concentrate on cruising the North Sea, especially the fjords of Norway. During the winter months, she will head south toward Portugal (and its remote islands of Madeira), or cruise around the boot of Italy - the friendly Axis nation.
     Passengers are kept active and days are structured. Agendas/menus called Speisekarten are printed on the ship for each day of the cruise and detail events aboard the ship. Music, games, swimming, sports, and dances are all interwoven with the inevitable Nazi propaganda. Excursions off the ship at foreign ports are controlled with coupons and paperwork. During cruises through the Norwegian fjords, passengers are not allowed to disembark. Entertainment is ferried over from shore if needed. This is said to have been due to the fact that the German Reichsmark cannot be converted into the local currency after Germany had withdrawn from the gold standard. Also likely because it was not an Axis-friendly nation.
     The first cruise in this series - in the fact that is referred to as Voyage #1, the 'official' maiden voyage - will provide the Gustloff with an opportunity to flex its muscles. It will travel to its furthest destination yet, the Madeira Islands of Portugal off the coast of Morocco. Departing with its KdF sister ships, the Sierra Cordoba, Oceana & Der Deutsche, on April 21st, 1938. Captain Carl​​ Lübbe directs the Wilhelm Gustloff out of Hamburg harbor along the Elbe River and the voyage begins!
     Unfortunately, it's the last time the 58 year old ​Lübbe will leave port. One day later aboard his new flagship, he dies on the bridge of the liner from a heart attack. The following day's activities are cancelled so the passengers and crew can attend a funeral for Lübbe on the Sun Deck. It is declared a day or mourning. Lübbe's body is later transferred to the German ship Teneriffa off Dover and taken to Bremen. Flags fly at half mast on the Gustloff as a replacement captain is chosen: Friedrich Petersen. Ironically, Petersen will only command the Gustloff twice in his career. After completing his responsibilities on this cruise, the next time he commands the ship is on the fateful night of January 30th, 1945. 
     On September 16th, 1938, British Consulate-General L.M. Robinson is on board to dedicate a plaque in recognition of the Pegaway rescue, and offer remembrance to Captain Lübbe. ​

Wilhelm Gustloff's Maiden Voyage to Madeira
Voyage #1: April 21st, 1938 - May 6th, 1938

     In the matter of a three day period, I was able to obtain not one, but two sets of Wilhelm Gustloff Maiden Voyage documents including all 15 speisekarten for each set.
     The first set I obtained (right) was from a gentleman in Germany whose great aunt & uncle sailed on board the Wilhelm Gustloff for her maiden voyage and her 35th voyage from May 6th to May 12th, 1939. Her name was Sofia Rosenbaum hailing from Köln-Dellbrück.
     The collection includes all 15 speisekarten from April 21st to May 6th, 1938, Ticket book with original cover and documentation inside, 3 Neuste Meldungens - April 23, 28, and May 3, 2 Guidelines for Shore Excursions, Itinerary , Welcome to Lisbon documents, The Grand Voyage card, Luggage Tag, Group Excursion card, 2 Tischkartes, Luggage Insurance card, Mützenband, Two cards for shopping and souvenirs in Maderia, and a passenger list for passengers from region Köln (Cologne), Aaachen.
Dates Shown: Thursday: April 21st, 1938 - Friday: April 22nd, 1938 - Saturday: April 23rd, 1938 - Sunday: April 24th, 1938 - Monday: April 25th, 1938 - Tuesday: April 26th, 1938 - Wednesday: April 27th, 1938 - Thursday: April 28th, 1938 - Friday: April 29th, 1938 - Saturday: April 30th, 1938 - Sunday: May 1st, 1938 - Monday: May 2nd, 1938 - Tuesday: May 3rd, 1938 - Wednesday: May 4th, 1938 - Thursday: May 5th, 1938 - Friday: May 6th, 1938.

Notable Speisekarten:
April 21st, 1938 - Lists Carl Lübbe as the Captain. He will die the next day on the bridge and Captain Peterson will assume command of the ship.
April 23rd, 1938 - All of the day's events have been cancelled likely out of respect for the captain's death.
April 26th, 1938 - Arrival in Lisbon. Music and fireworks will accompany the ship's arrival.
April 29th, 1938 - Arrival in Madeira. A festival and fireworks are also given for the ship's arrival.
Wilhelm Gustloff Maiden Voyage Ticket Booklet
Passenger Sofia Rosenbaum
Kabinen-Nr. 79, Bettplatz (Deck) A, Kontroll-Nr. 0814

Additional Maiden Voyage Material:
1: Welcome to Lisbon Pahmplet with local information.
2: The Grand Voyage folding card - empty inside.
3: Luggage Claim Tag.
4: Two table cards for Group #2
5: Land Excusion Ticket
6: Luggage Insurance Card
7: Card for souvenir shopping in Madeira - advertisment for a local shop.
8: Card #2 for souvenir shopping in Madeira - advertisment for a local shop.
9: Voyage Itinerary with Kraft Durch Freude.
10: Interior of Itinerary - Sailing with the KdF ship "Oceana".
11: Neueste Meldungen - April 23, 1938.
12: Neueste Meldungen - April 28th, 1938.
13: Neueste Meldungen - May 3rd, 1938.
14: Excursion Guidelines - Funshal: days 1 & 2.
15: Excursion Guidelines - Lisbon and Maderia.
16: Passenger list for travelers from Kohn-Aachen.

Wilhelm Gustloff's Maiden Voyage to Madeira
Voyage #1: April 21st, 1938 - May 6th, 1938
      The second set I obtained (right) was from a gentleman in Germany who had collected numerous items from on board the Wilhelm Gustloff for her maiden voyage and several other voyages from which I was able to acquire. This passenger's name was Ida Schalz hailing from Berlin. Kabinen-Nr. 97, Bettplatz (Deck) B, Kontroll-Nr. 0841.
     The collection includes a complete second set of all 15 speisekarten from April 21st to May 6th, 1938, Ticket book with original cover and documentation inside including a page not in the other booklet (See below), 8 Neuste Meldungens - April 22, 23, 24, 25, 28, and May 1, 2, & 3, 2 Guidelines for Shore Excursions, Welcome to Lisbon pamphlet,  Group excursion card, Lisbon souvenir photos, 2 postcards, 2 photos, random document from April 28th, 1947, and a 2 page paper from April 12th, 1938 that appears to be early information for the passengers of the voyage. (Translation to come.) 
What makes this interesting is that the April 23rd, 1938 menu has written on the blank side "Mourning Captain Lübbe" and one of the photographs is of the memorial service held on board that day as noted on the back of the picture. The second photo gathering appears to be of the memorial service as well, but the back states "7 May, on the Wilhelm Gustloff." What event went on that day is still unclear.

Photo Details:
#4: Funeral memorial for Captain Lübbe on board the Wilhelm Gustloff's Sun Deck.
#5: Unknown gathering on the Sun Deck - May 7th, 1938. While this date is written on the back, I have also seen this photo captioned as being from Lübbe's funeral with the notation of the man climbing the mast to untangle a flag that was caught on a pulley wheel.
#6: April 23rd, 1938 menu with handwritten note for Captain Lübbe's mourning.
#10: Second ticket booklet
#11: Labels for sending mail on the maiden voyage.
Above: Captain Lübbe's Funeral Service on board the Wilhelm Gustloff. April 23rd, 1938
Right: April 23rd, 1938 Speisekarte. Daily Agenda left blank out of respect of the captain. Handwritten "Trauer Kapitän Lübbe" or "Mourning Captain Lübbe"

Four Maiden Voyage / Second Voyage Photographs - Above Left Clockwise:
1. Robert Ley being completed. Hamburg 4-20-38.
2. Funnel of the Wilhelm Gustloff. 5-15-38.
3. Gustloff in Hamburg with unknown uniforms. 4-20-38.
4. On Deck: 5-15-38.

Later Newspaper Article 12/19/1973 - Image #14
The Wilhelm Gustloff Maiden Voyage Band (Postcard) -Images #15 & #16:

To commemorate the journey of Madeira, April 21st to May 6th, 1938 on "Wilhelm Gustloff" - Marching band.

The Wilhelm Gustloff sailing down the Elbe on her official maiden voyage!
The Death & Funeral of Captain Carl Lübbe - Hamburg, Germany
The aftermath once the Wilhelm Gustloff returns to Germany.

Links und rechts: Kapitän Carl Lübbe, der verstorbene Führer des KdF.- Motor-Schiffes "Wilhelm Gustloff", wurde am 28.4 1938 auf dem Ohlsdorfer Friedhof zur letzen Ruhe getragen.

Left and right: Captain Carl Lübbe, the late leader of the KdF - Motor ship "Wilhelm Gustloff",  was laid to rest on April 28, 1938 in Ohlsdorf cemetery.

Kapitän Lübbes letzte Fahrt - Captain Lübbe's Final Voyage.
From the August 1, 1938 (III. Jahrgang, Folge 3/4 ) edition of the magazine:
Das Sprachrohr - Werkzeitschrift der Hamburg-Sudamerikanischen Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft
The Mouthpiece - File magazine of the Hamburg-South American Steamship Company
Captain Lübbe's Last Ride.
Captain Carl Lübbe, the late leader of the KdF motor ship "Wilhelm Gustloff" was born on 28 Born April 1938 in glorious sunny weather in Ohlsdorf cemetery to rest.

Captain Lübbe's Last Voyage
     Captain Carl Lübbe, the late leader of the KdF motor ship Wilhelm Gustloff, was buried on the 28th of April​ 1938 at the Ohlsdorf Cemetery in beautiful sunny weather. The Great Hall of Crematorium B had standing room only. In the sea of flowers, the coffin was covered with our flag and placed in the center. Officers of our shipping company kept their watch. Flags of the different enterprises flanked the wreaths which honor the dead of the Gauwaltung Hamburg of the DAF, the NSG, Kraft durch Freude, HAPAG / Hamburg Süd and other large shipping companies was laid down by Reichsstatthalter Pg. Karl Kauffmann.
     In addition to our directorate, numerous well-known men of the state and of the party as well as the Hamburg consulate appeared. Thus, in addition to the Berlin Reichsleiter, others in attendance included Robert Ley, The Reichsamtsleiter Pg. Dr. Lafferentz, Gau Inspector of Voyages, SA Brigadier Schormann, Mayor Krogmann, Deputy Gauleaiter, State Council Pg .Harry Henningsen, the Gauobmann of the DAF, Pg. Rudolf Habedank.
     ​ Pastor Voss of the Hoheluft in his mourning speech said once again passes the life of the captain, who dies so soon and in every way led a prospective and blessed life. Then the coffin, followed by a huge line of mourners, was brought to the family tomb at Kapelle 2 with the sound of tears. The workers of Hamburg - Süd and political leaders accompanied the coffin crowned with flags on its final trip.
     Among the sounds of his comrades, Captain Lübbe was buried into the earth. After the ​

Article #2: Memories of Captain Lübbe by Otto Neubert. 

     It was 1924. I sailed on the Cap Norte to South America. Lübbe was on the ship as the First Officer, a man whom one could appreciate as a man and to whom one could be a sailors. Because of his characteristics, he also had a place in my heart. On later trips to the Mediterranean and to Norway, we met again. Many memories of Lübbe are firmly anchored in my mind. How often we stood on the commander's bridge in a harmonious exchange of thoughts, how often did he help me in my work. There was no whispering around, no bad words to be heard. 
     1931. We were on the Monte Rosa on a trip to Tenerife and Maderia. Politicization on board was strictly forbidden. I was commissioned by the foreign organization of the NSDAP to speak before the Germans in Sta. Tenerife of a small local group of the NSDAP. A flourishing experience! Captain Lübbe was inaugurated by me. What he could do for me, he did. As a salute, various members of the party came into the country in civilian clothes (2nd officer's voyage, stewards, and sailors). Lübbe closed his eyes and gave leave. Our meeting went well when it had to be moved to a different room, because the owner of the first room, a Spaniard, thought the Nazis would destroy everything. 
     On another voyage, there was once again - as usual - a Reichstag election in Germany. The crew and passe​ngers were allowed to vote for the first time at sea. Politicians, as I said, were forbidden on a ship, which was quite understandable. A sea voyage serves as recreation. Unfavorable scenes arising from the diversity of opinions and views can not be tolerated where 1,800 people are looking for joy and relaxation. Still, I had to fulfill my mission. I dragged a whole mountain of flyers with me. A few days before the election, they were secretly distributed. Into this cabin, on that desk, in the toilets, here and there a leaflet was laid down. Someone must have reported it to the captain about the "crime" committed. The captain immediately shouted for me to come. He said, "If you are going to distribute propaganda, then at least give me some." Lübbe pressed his eyes again and explained that unfortunately he could not find the paper distributor. 
     Then the election took place. ​We were ready at  noon and steamed into Vigo around 1:00pm. I had promised to the Gauleiter Pg. Kaufmann that the results would be instantly cabled from Spain to Germany, so that it could be evaluated propagandistically. Our radio station was closed on the trip in, so I quickly needed a boat. Lübbe and the First Officer Castan gave one to me and I was able to row ashore and send the telegram via land as soon as possible.
     In April 1933, we were in the Mediterranean. Lübbe said to me, "Tomorrow is the 1st of May, we are at sea, would you like to speak?" I said yes joyfully in my heart. Lübbe and his First Officer supported the May Day with all of their might! That I had to be valued by Lübbe as a particularly ​capable seaman meant a lot. I said I shall prove myself in the hour of danger. That danger came in 1934 when we were on the Monte Rosa on a trip to the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Norway. Northwest of the Skagerrak we ran into a thick fog. It cleared again soon, but when we left the first port and had been into the trip for 10 minutes, thick fog returned. The engines were running slowly. Even small rocks emerged from the water. "Hard to port, engines in full reverse!" But it was already too late. Our ship slowly pushed itself up onto the rocks of a land (Clivurnaes near Thorshavn) and stood fast there. I stood next to the captain on the bridge. He was calm, he was firm as a rock with a valuable ship of 14,000 GRT under his feet. I did similar cases in the war with nervousness and restlessness on the bridge. Lübbe let the music play, since his worries should not be the cares of the passengers. Many, many skillful maneuvers were necessary, but after 24 hours, the ship was refloated again. What we could appreciate of Lübbe during these times is indescribable. It is only in the times of emergency that one can see whether a captain is really a good captain. Lübbe has proved this. After a survey was carried out by divers, we went onto Iceland. Lübbe took over responsibility.
     This man was rightly chosen to be the leader of the proud ship Wilhelm Gustloff. "I am happy" he told me during the trial run out of the shipyard. ​Fate, however, wanted it different. The highest has told him to end his last voyage, which we all must take. Lübbe has left his earthly ship. He is on his way to where the fighter Wilhelm Gustloff dwells. Let's hope his spirit is happy from birth to grave - living with the eternal sea. 

North Berlin Daily Mail
April 19th, 1938
Maiden Voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff

     After the new KdF ship Wilhelm Gustloff made a series of short trips into the North Sea, including the very successful reconciliation trip to London which allowed her to prove herself extraordinarily seaworthy even in a storm, it's time for her actual maiden voyage. ​​​​On Wednesday, the Wilhelm Gustloff together with the KdF steamer Oceana departed the port of Hamburg with the destination of Madeira. In the North Sea, the two ships met with the steamers Der Deutsche and Sierra Cordoba, which came Tuesday with holidaymakers from Bremerhaven. With a total of 4 ships, the number so far on this route - the Kraft durch Freude will travel through the English Channel past the Bay of Biscay to Lisbon. This past will take two days. 
​     The final destination of Madeira is reached by the first of the three named ships on April 29th. They will anchor there until the 30th of April. The Oceana follows for May 1st and 2nd. Accordingly, the ships enter their home port after the end of their journey. The Wilhelm Gustloff is again in Hamburg on May 6th. The Der Deutsche and Sierra Cordoba arrive in Bremerhaven on May 7th, and the Oceana arrives again at the überseebrücke on May 10th. 

Additional articles around the time of her maiden voyage can be read under the Arbeitertum page. 
"Wilhelm Gustloff" - The Ship Without Class
     It was probably a symbolic tutelage of providence that a few weeks ago, the new KdF ship Wilhelm Gustloff could save the crew of an English freighter - captain and 18 men - who had fallen into distress on the stormy North Sea. The fact that a fight with the unleashed waves was not easy testifies to the fact that a rescue boat so badly damaged, that it was left to the waves after the crew had taken over. A ship which was to serve as recreation, and at the same time to be a harbor of hope, had solved both tasks shortly after its entry into service: it brought German workers joy and English human rescue in the greatest danger! This should be a good omen for all further trips.
     Just now, when the creative German people are celebrating their feast of work again, this incident is suitable for striking comparisons between the social care of people in Germany and the provision of alms in other countries. When the saved English sailors visited our KdF ship, they thought to be on a piquet passenger steamer. It took lengthy explanations, until the incomprehensible became intelligible to them: it was in the ship, on which German workers went to the wide world for their pleasure and their recovery. The sons of the "free" Great Britain could not quite digest this! Workers and seafrears ?!
​​​     As a matter of fact, 1,000 German workmates from the Austrian Gau were the first passengers of the beautiful ship. And then again something unique happened: The shipyards of Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, who had built the ship, made their second trip with their family members! In Germany the creative person is not only entrusted but also honored! This is another process that awakens an astonishing amount of astonishment in the "free democratic" countries. There is more understanding for the nonsensical and destructive class struggle.
     The KdF ship Wilhelm Gustloff  is the most visible proof that there are no classes in national socialist Germany: it is a ship without class! The 1,460 passengers and the crew are accommodated equally well without any difference. Every single chamber has an outward view; According to this principle the ship has been built; Thus, inner chambers without natural light have been avoided.
​Each chamber contains either two or four beds. There is a wardrobe and a seat for each passenger, as well as a washing table with running cold and warm water for two passengers each. At the window there is a sofa in each chamber with a table. All the chambers are heated by means of steam heating and have artificial ventilation systems. The living rooms are distributed over five decks.
     All other rooms have been built and furnished with the same care. Above all, the passengers should have plenty of opportunity to move freely. This is why the upper decks have been designed particularly extensively. In a length of 150 meters, the Promenade Deck, which can be sealed against cold drafts by a large number of windows, extends on either side of the ship. The entire usable deck area of the vessel is 5,000 square meters, of which the overlying Sun Deck alone has an area of 1,100 square meters. There is enough space on the deck so that each passenger can use a deck chair. On the Sun Deck there is a gymnasium, which is available to sports enthusiasts.
     The large swimming pool serves the same purpose. In addition, a cinema on board for entertainment. The two large dining rooms, where 760 people can dine at the same time, are an attraction and all passengers can eat their meals in two sections. There is a communal dining room for the crew, which corresponds to the national-socialist views on the care of the working-class.​​ It is self-evident that on a ship which serves German workers for their recreation, all safety measures were carried out with special care. The most up-to-date facilities and technical equipment are available, the ship is divided into 13 sections by a ballast system. Even if two adjacent rooms should leak, there is no risk to the vessel. The number of available rescue boats is 22, which have all engines. The boats are mounted on both sides of the ship so that they do not limit the field of view at any point. Special precautions have been taken to reduce the risk of fire. In addition to the prescribed fire-brigades, the stairwells are also protected by fire walls. The walls of the chambers, which are located at all longitudinal and transverse passages, are covered with a special fire-retardant asbestos cement. There is also a melting fuse in each chamber which, when there is a risk of fire through the bells and light signals on the bridge, indicates the position of the hearth.
     "Wilhelm Gustloff" is built as a motor ship. The drive is a diesel engine system with a power output of around 9,500 hp, which can give it a cruising speed of around 16 knots. The system is made up of four eight-cylinder, single-acting, two-stroke diesel engines, each of which operates by means of a gearwheel gear on the two screw shafts of the ship. The E system consists of 5 diesel engines of 380 kW each. Two exhaust boilers are available for the generation of steam for heating and commercial purposes, but these can be operated with diesel oil firing if necessary.
     The main dimensions of the vessel are 208.5 meters long, 23.5 meters wide and 17.25 meters high, to the Lower Promenade Deck. The draft with a loaded ship is 6.5 meters. In the meantime the second newly built KdF ship on the Howaldt Shipyard  launched on 29th March and was named "Robert Ley". This ship is similar in scale to the "Wilhelm Gustloff", only the machine has been designed according to the electric principle. Soon this second modern "KdF" ship will be put into service.
And further buildings will follow!
     The German worker will have a fleet of his own within a few years, which can meet all requirements. "He is promised with class-fighting Marrism once in a sounding phrase - the National Socialism realized it without having made any previous statements."
Fachl. Schulungsblatt Der DAF Abteilung Wehrmacht

Berlin, Mai 1938
3. Jahrgang, Folge 5
DAF 86

Technical Training Guide of the DAF Division

Berlin, May 1938
Year 3, Issue 5
DAF 86​​​​​​​​​
​A view into the interior of Wilhelm Gustloff.

Right: Staircase with elevator.
Left: Even the bays are bright and friendly.
Picture below: View into a lounge.

Picture left: Rescue boat is deployed to retrieve the crew of the English steamer.
Picture center: Austrian workmates on the "Wilhelm Gustloff".
Picture below: Part of the saved sailors with the 2nd officer, under whose direction the rescue operation was successfully carried out.

Left: In the Arabian quarter of Tripoli.
Picture below: "KdF" tourists on the "Wüstenschiff."
clergyman Reichsorganizationleiter Dr. Robert Ley spoke, those at his grave said goodbye to the dead. In the name of the entire German shipping industry, Schormann devoted warm words to the dead. He particularily praised the cordial cooperation that Captain Lübbe had shown to everyone at any time. He laid down the wreaths at the tomb for the representative of the Führer, Reichsminister Rudolf Hess, and Gauleiter Bohle. In the end, the Deputy Gauleiter Harry Henningsen, expressed the last greetings from Gauleiter Pg. Kaufmann to the dead fighter, Captain Lübbe. ​​
Elisabeth Dietrich's entire  maiden voyage journal was published and can be read in my book:
The M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff - Maiden Voyage
April 21st - May 6th, 1938.

Two original accounts from the official maiden voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff

The English version of the typed pages below can be read HERE.

The handwritten translation can be viewed in Deutsche and English here: PDF 1     PDF 2     PDF 3     PDF 4

"Jungernfahrt der "Wilhelm Gustloff" 1938
Hitler Youth photo album from the unofficial maiden voyage. ​
Header: Hitler Youth and BdM girls were accommodated on board in 6 large cabins (3 cabins for girls, each with 4 double beds / bed numbering per cabin from A-H).
#1 - 6 Hitler boys in cabin 902 (standing quite well: the young Klaus Lutze from Leipzig).
#2 - Leipzig's Klaus Lutze on the Sundeck.​​

General caption: 
For youth groups, six larger bedrooms were available for girls (BdM) and boys (HJ) - according to their lower requirements. There were also some rooms for the "leader" and his company, which he never used himself.  As already mentioned, the chambers for the crew members were designed to be equivalent to the cabins of the passengers. The crew had 51 bath / shower rooms and 50 toilet compartments available. On the A-deck there was a large common lounge for them aft with a free deck area to the stern and a covered, laterally open promenade at the front.

​​Klaus Lutze rests on the war cemetery in Lommel.
​Final grave location: Block 37 Grave 38.
Rank: Flag-squad Corporal
Date of birth: November 17, 1920
Date of death / missing: 25.05.1940

#4 - ​​On the 4th day of the sea (April 24, 1938) the modern "Gustloff" overtakes the somewhat slower "Sierra Cordoba".​​
#5 - Two blonde youths.
#6 - BdM and HJ marching around the Sundeck.
#7 - 2 Hitler youth on the foredeck below the bridge. ​​​​
There are also other captions retyped from the album regarding where the youth visited, what they wrote home on the postcards included, as well as some loose photos and a souvenir Gustloff photo set. 
Sailor Log Book #5 for Gerhard Köster can be viewed under the Lazarettschiff D page since he was stationed aboard during 1939 / 1940. 

Sailor Log Book #6 for Otto Ullrich can be seen under the Building and Launch page with all of his other original personal items. ​​