Oskar Richard Schwamberger

b. 17 April 1868, d. 4 June 1930

Oskar Richard Schwamberger, 1868-1930
  • Oskar Richard Schwamberger was born on 17 April 1868 in Baden.
  • He was baptized/christened on 7 May 1868 in Baden-Baden, Baden.
  • The following appeared on 7 August 1900 in The New York Times: When the steamship Deutschland was reported off Fire Island Sunday night people had been wondering what was the matter with her for nearly twenty-four hours. To have made good her previous records she should have reached the bar before Saturday midnight.
         There had been trouble. In the first place, one of the big starboard pistons became tricky on last Wednesday. Despite all the skill of twenty or thirty engineers it refused to work as it should. Then the engine on that side of the ship was stopped, and it was discovered that the new machinery around the piston had worked with too much friction. So great was the temperature of the unruly part that Capt. Albers decided to bring the vessel to a standstill for a while.
         Both engines were therefore stopped, and remained quiet for five hours. After that the ship moved forward again, her port engine working at its best, and her starboard machinery only half active. For twelve hours an eighteen-knot speed was attempted, but after that there was no more trouble.
         "Such things frequently happen to new machinery before it is broken in," said the Deutschland's commander yesterday. "But there is absolutely nothing broken or injured about our engines, and all they need is a little adjusting. This ship will make her twenty-three-knot speed yet; you can bank on that. However, we must have one or two more trips in which to get used to her."
         After the accident of the overheated piston there was a tragedy aboard the Deutschland. The fourth officer, E. Thiele, committed suicide by shooting himself with a pistol. A passenger happened to stumble on his body in one of the alleyways, and, as far as could be learned, nobody heard the shot's report.
         Not much of Herr Thiele is known by his fellow-officers, except that he was little, if any, older than twenty-five years, and that the voyage just over was his third in the company's employ. Among the cabin passengers he is remembered as quiet and gentlemanly in bearing, but neither they nor the officers noticed anything about him that augured suicide.
         Capt. Albers denies emphatically that the young officer's act was due to his having received a reprimand for falling asleep on duty, as was reported soon after the ship reached her dock in Hoboken.
         "No such thing ever happened," he said yesterday, "nor do I have any idea what was the cause of the deed."
         One of the other officers and an employe of the office of the Hamburg-American Line are authorities for the report that Thiele had met with financial reverses on the other side, and had ever since been melancholy. They say that he led a "fast pace" in Hamburg, and fell heavily in debt. His reputation as an efficient officer is testified to by all who knew him in that capacity.
         When the Deutschland was docked at Hoboken a well-dressed woman stood on the pier awaiting the ship's arrival. As soon as Chief Officer Schwamberger landed she approached him and asked for news of Fourth Officer Thiele. She was told that Thiele had committed suicide on Aug. 1 and had been buried at sea.
         "I had feared so," said the woman, "for he sent me a cablegram just before he sailed saying he meant to kill himself before the ship reached port."
         Then she broke down and wept bitterly. She refused to give her name or address, but Officer Schwamberger said she had in her hand a telegram addressed "Mrs. A. Martin, 10 Wallace Place." The woman hurried to the ferry and went to New York.
         The Deutschland's sailing will not be delayed, but she will leave tomorrow, as scheduled.
  • He married Marie J. Klatt, daughter of William Klatt and Johanna Muller, on 15 January 1902 in Manhattan, New York, with Alderman Leopold W. Harburger officiating.
  • SS Parthia (in HAL service 1900-1914.)
  • Paddle Steamer Prinzessin Heinrich (in HAL service 1904-1923.)
  • Josephina Vorwerk visited Niagara Falls in 1905, two months after the death of her husband, departing Cuxhaven on 28 October aboard the Hamburg-Amerika Linie Steamship Moltke, and arriving in the port of New York on 8 November. She was accompanied on the voyage by her son-in-law Eugene Laurier. Josephina's nephew Oskar Schwamberger was master of the Moltke a few years later.
  • SS Meteor (in HAL service 1904-1914.)
  • The following appeared on 5 April 1910 in The New York Times: Old Liner in a New Dress. "Bill" Quigley, the Battery boatman and his cronies who daily watch steamships arriving at and departing from this port, could not believe their eyes yesterday when the Hamburg-American liner Kaiserin Auguste Victoria entered post, such a strange appearance did the vessel present as viewed from the Battery in the fog.
         After she reached her Hoboken pier it was found that another story had been added to her superstructure, a great glass-covered palm garden built on the boat deck, which adds greatly to the attractiveness of the vessel.
         The room is handsomely decorated and arranged so that the sides can be thrown open to permit the room to be swept by ocean breezes. The new palm court is two decks above the Ritz-Carlton restaurant.
         There are two skippers on the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria. Besides Capt. Ruser, her commander, Capt. O. Schwamberger, arrived to take charge of the Hamburg-American liner Oceania, now in the Bermuda service. He succeeds Capt. Witt, who is transferred to the Deutschland.
         [Historical note: This account of the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria apparently confuses her with the earlier liner Auguste Victoria (in HAL service 1889-1904). In fact, the Kaiserin Auguste Victoria was billt in 1905 as she appeared when she arrived at the Port of New York in April 1910, according to an article published on 18 March 1906 in The New York Times, entitled "A Palm Garden at Sea": The Hamburg-American Line's new Kaiserin Auguste Victoria is receiving finishing touches at the shipyards of the Vulcan Shipbuilding Company at Stettin. Workmen are gusy night and day, as the great vessel is to be delivered in Hamburg in a few weeks, that she may be ready to sail on May 10 for New York.
         The Auguste Victoria, as she is called by those who already have booked for her for the coming season, is not the old Express steamship of that name, but an entirely new vessel, the largest steamship ever built. She is of 25,500 tons gross register, 43,000 tons displacement, is 700 feet long, and has eight decks above the water line. She has one entire deck more than the Amerika, but otherwise, in general arrangement, speed, and appearance, will be a counterpart of that ship.
         A Ritz Carlton restaurant a la carte, elevators, fifty suites and chambres deluxe, most with private bath; a gymnasium, electric baths and massage, special telephone service, and palm garden, with playing fountains, will be among the attractions of this latest addition to the Hamburg Line fleet, now numbering 360 vessels, with an aggregate tonnage of 800,00. She will carry 550 passengers in first class, 350 in second class, 300 in thrid class, and 2,300 in her steerage, and a crew of 650, making a total of 4,150 persons. The cargo holds will have a capacity for 16,000 tons of freight.]
  • SS Oceana (in HAL service 1905-1910.)
  • SS Prinzessin Victoria Luise (in HAL service 1901-1905.)
  • August Vorwerk and Eugene Laurier visited Germany in 1911, returning to New York aboard the Hamburg-American Linie SS Blücher, departing Hamburg on 2 September, and arriving in the Port of New York on the 12th. During the trip, they were photographed onboard a ship with a ship's officer who was thought to have been August's (and Eugen's wife's) cousin HAL captain Oskar Schwamberger, but careful examination of later photographs has cast doubt on that identification.
  • SS President Lincoln (in HAL service 1907-1914.)
  • The following appeared on 5 October 1921 in The New York Times: Bayern's Officers Visit City Hall and Are Cheered by Crowd. Accompanied by two of his officers, Captain Oscar Schwamberger of the Bayern, the first German passenger ship to arrive here since the war, called on Mayor Hylan at City Hall yesterday to thank him for the official welcome accorded the Bayern last Friday.
         Mayor Hylan said he was happy to meet Captain Schwamberger, who in thanking the Mayor said: "The Bayern is not a big boat, not so big as the German steamers of former days, but it is a good ship anyway." Here he paused, grew red in the face and added: "It is too much, Mr. Mayor. I am a sailor, not a speech maker. I thank you."
         First Officer Pust and Third Officer Links were presented to the Mayor and the large party departed amid the cheers of a large crowd gathered in the City Hall reception room.
  • The following appeared on 16 October 1921 in the Aberdeen Sunday American News: With the Legion from Coast to Coast. . . The Bayern, first German liner to enter New York harbor in seven years, docked within 100 yards of the office of the American Legion's national commander there, but the Legion took no part in the official welcome which New York's mayor extended. It was reported that Herr Captain Oscar Schwamberger of the Bayern commanded a German U-boat during the war of 1914-1918, but a Legion representative's effort to board the ship to confirm the report met with no success.
  • SS Württemberg (in HAL service 1821-1935.)
  • SS Albert Ballin (in HAL service 1923-1934.)
  • SS Deutschland IV (in HAL service 1923-1940.)
  • The following appeared on 10 February 1927 in the Morning Oregonian: (New York, Feb. 9) Six wave-tossed liners arrived today from the storm area in the North Atlantic. They were the Olympic, the Hamburg, the Bremen, the American Banker, the Aurenia and Cameronia. Officers and passengers on all of them reported high seas and winds of hurricane velocity. On board two of them a passenger was injured as they were tossed about in the gales.
         The Hamburg caught the worst of the storm and was the only one of the three to report an injury due to the breaking of port-hole windows by wind and wave.
         Udo Bintz, a 22-year-old Berlin business man, came ashore with his head in bandages. Last Wednesday while he was walking on the promenade a giant comber knocked him to the deck. The ship's surgeon took three stitches in his ear and bandaged his head. On January 19 when the storm was tossing the Hamburg a baby was born in the steerage. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rasteller, American citizens of Oak Hill, Kan., returning from a trip to Germany.
         Captain Oscar Schwamberger, skipper of the Hamburg, said the trip was one of the worst passages he had ever experienced. From the day the liner left Hamburg until she turned under the sheltering lea of Fire Island it was a succession of storms, he said.
         One day the storm was so severe that the Aurenia had to heave-to and turn about to run into the wind. Her speed was cut down to 160 knots a day instead of her usual 350 on three successive days, her skipper reported.
  • International Newsreel Photo Slug (Schwamberger): New York . . . Photo shows Capt. Oskar Schwamberger, of the S.S. Hamburg, who with the completion of today's trip across the ocean, completed his 150th round trip of the Atlantic as skipper of the Hamburg-American Line. R-5-14-28.
  • The following appeared on 24 June 1928 in The New York Times: R. H. Fleischman, publisher of The New Yorker, and his wife, who returned too late at the French Line pier Friday night to board the Paris, where their three children and their governess were waiting for them, sailed at 5 P. M. yesterday for Cherbourg on the Hamburg of the Hamburg-American Line.
          As the liner was full in the first cabin the Fleischmans will occupy the captain's suite under the bridge.
          Captain Otto [sic], Schwamberger, master of the ship, will sleep in the cabin in the officers' quarters that is reserved for the use of pilots when they have to sleep a night on board.
  • The following appeared on 30 April 1929 in The Reading Eagle: (New York) Two mirages caused by a combination of atomspheric conditions off the Grand Banks were reported seen by officers and passengers of the Hamburg-American liner Hamburg which arrived here
         Captain Oscar Schwamberger, the commander, first saw what appeared to be a flotilla of destroyers at target practice but scrutiny under marine glasses revealed the phenomena as a freak arrangement of fog banks. Later, passengers who had gathered on deck to witness the mirage, saw two freighters which, in the reflection of the fog banks, appeared as rubber ships. Their smokestacks looked to be a mile high and their hulls wriggled like snakes. The distortion suddenly faded and the frieghters resumed their normal aspect.
  • The following appeared on 2 March 1930 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Inaugurates Express Service. The steamship Hamburg, with Capt. Oskar Schwamberger in command, sailed from New York Thursday for Cherbourg, Southampton and Hamburg, inaugurating the weekly seven-day trans-atlantic service of the Hamburg-American Line. European representatives of the company who made the "maiden voyage" of the reconditioned Hamburg, are returning on the ship.
  • The following appeared on 20 April 1930 in The New York Times: The Hamburg-American liner Hamburg arrived at 3:30 P. M. yesterday at her pier, foot of West 44th Street, having made the trip from Europe at an average speed of 19.05 knots. She carried 526 passengers.
          Captain Schwamberger, the master, said the Hamburg was at Cherbourg with the Cunarder Berengaria, a much faster vessel, but as the Berengaria was delayed by fog on this side he docked here only two hours later. This is the second trip of the Hamburg since new engines were installed, which increased her speed by four knots.
  • Oskar Richard Schwamberger died on 4 June 1930 at age 62 in Hamburg while going aboard his ship.
  • Marie J. Klatt became a widow at his death.
  • The following appeared on 6 June 1930 in The New York Times: (Wireless to The New York Times. Hamburg, June 5) Captain Oskar Schwamberger, commander of the Hamburg-American liner Hamburg, died here of apoplexy of the heart today [sic] while going aboard his ship in the harbor. Captain Schwamberger was one of the most popular commanders of ocean steamers. He was born in Sweden [sic] and rose from the ranks, being promoted by the Hamburg-American Line to the rank of captain in 1903 as commander of the steam yachts Meteor and Ozeana. After the war he commanded the company's new ships, the Wuertemberg, the Deutschland and recently the Hamburg, which is leaving tomorrow on her first trip after the reconstruction of her machinery. Captain Lueck, who formerly commanded the Reliance, has been appointed as Captain Schwamberger's successor.
  • Eugene and Friederika Laurier departed Hamburg aboard the Hamburg-Amerika Linie SS Hamburg on 6 June 1930, and arrived in the Port of New York on the 14th. Apparently, they had been visiting with Friederika's cousin Oskar Schwamberger at the time of death, and had planned to return with him to the United States on the Hamburg's first voyage after the reconstruction of her machinery.
  • The following appeared on 6 June 1930 in The Dallas Morning News: (New York, June 5) Capt. Oscar Schwamberger, 62, master of the liner Hamburg, died Wednesday in Hamburg.
  • The following appeared in in a German newspaper: [translation] Captain Oskar Schwamberger, commander of the HAPAG steamer Hamburg, died suddenly on June 4. In the middle of his career and in the prime of life, Captain Oskar Schwamberger, commander of the steamer Hamburg of the Hamburg-America Line, was overtaken by death. Wednesday evening, on the way to his ship, which was to be hauled away, he suffered a heart attack just before stepping onto the gangplank. Mourning at his coffin, in addition to his wife, were the manager of the Hamburg-America Line, of which he had been an employee for decades, and numerous colleagues from this country and abroad, who came to know and appreciate him as an excellent ship captain and as a person on the numerous voyages that he made across the ocean. Everyone who came into contact with the deceased was captivated by his compellingly kind nature, coupled with genuine humor, which never left him even in the most difficult situations, of which a seaman's life has no lack, and which was especially apparent on occasions, such as the celebration of his 62nd birthday on board the Hamburg.
         For every one of his passengers -- and thousands journeyed with him to all parts of the world -- Captain Schwamberger had a friendly word, and no one left the ship who did not remember him with warmth and respect.
          Regarding the deceased captain's final hours, we learn that on Wednesday he wanted to go to the steamer Hamburg that he commanded, which was about to hauled to the shipyard. He arrived at the gangplank, somewhat out of breath, just as the ship was about to depart, and fell down dead, having suffered a heart attack.
         The Hamburg-America line has lost in Captain Schwamberger one of its most seasoned and beloved ship commanders, who has safely guided many of the large HAPAG ships on hundreds of journeys across the sea. On December 20, 1928, he was able to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his captaincy in the service of the HAL.
         Captain Schwamberger was born in 1868 in Baden-Baden. He attended high school in Karlsruhe until the age of 15, and then he took training for his seaman's career. He spent the first six years on sailing vessels. In 1890-91, he served one year as a volunteer in the marines. After passing the helmsman's examination, he traveled to New York and the Mediterranean sea for 2-1/2 years as an officer. Then in 1894, with a captain's license, he entered the service of the Hamburg-American Line as 4th officer, where he was promoted to captain on December 10, 1903, and in this capacity commanded the steamers Parthia, Prinzessin Heinrich, Meteor, Oceana, Victoria Luise, President Lincoln, and Moltke, until 1914. During the war he was a lieutenant-commander in Cuxhaven. After the war, he continued with the HAPAG as captain of the steamer Bayern, then the steamer Deutschland, and finally the steamer Hamburg.
  • The following appeared on 13 July 1930 in The New York Times: The ashes of Captain Oskar Schwamberger, late master of the Hamburg-American liner Hamburg, who dropped dead of apoplexy on June 5 [sic] as he was going on board his ship at Hamburg, will be buried tomorrow at 3:30 P.M. in the family plot in the Lutheran Cemetery at Middle Village, Queens. The Rev. Dr. H. Brueckner of the German Seamen's Home in Hoboken will conduct the services. Mrs. Schwamberger, her relatives and the officers and members of the ship's crew, representatives of the office and pier staffs of the line and many other friends will attend the burial.
  • He was interred on 14 July 1930 at Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery, Middle Village, Long Island, Queens County, New York.
  • The following appeared on 15 July 1930 in The New York Times: More than seventy-five officers and members of the crew of the Hamburg-American liner Hamburg, officials of the company and representatives of the pier staff, with Mrs. Schwamberger and her immediate family, paid their last respects yesterday to Captain Oskar Schwamberger, late master of the Hamburg, when his ashes were buried in the Lutheran Cemetery at Middle Village, Queens. The ceremony was conducted in German by the Rev. Dr. H. Brueckner of the German Seaman's Home, Hoboken.
         Captain Schwamberger's ashes were brought to this country by his widow on July 5, aboard the Deutschland, in fulfillment of his last wishes that he be buried "in his second fatherland."
         "No praises need to be worded at the grave of Captain Schwamberger," the Rev. Dr. Brueckner said, as the ashes were lowered, draped in the house flag of the line. "His kindness, honor and courage while alive will serve to keep his memory living when dead. He was a brave man and a gentleman; he could wish for no finer eulogy, and a finer one could not be given."
         The only words spoken in English at the simple ceremony were those of Stevenson's "Requiem": "Here he lies where he longed to be, / Home is the sailor, home from the sea, / And the hunter home from the hill."
         At the conclusion of the ceremony Captain Theodor Koch, successor to Captain Schwamberger, advanced to the open grave and stood at salute while the ship's band played a dirge.
         Captain Schwamberger was born in Baden-Baden, the Black Forest country, in 1868. He was the only son of a high official of the Ministry of Interior of the Grand Duchy of Baden. He went to sea at the age of 15.
         In 1894 he was graduated with honors from the Hamburg School of Navigation and joined the service of the Hamburg-American Line. His advancement was rapid, and in 1903, at the age of 35, he was placed in command of the steamship Parthia.
         Captain Schwamberger took an active part in the World War and won distinguished honors in the rank of lieutenant commander and commander in the Imperial German Navy. He died of apoplexy aboard his ship, the Hamburg, on June 4.
  • Last Edited: 20 Jun 2014

Family: Marie J. Klatt b. March 1866, d. 23 May 1932