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“Padua”/”Kruzenshtern” during the Second World War

A lot of literature states that the “Padua” in 1940 was reduced to a barge pulled by a steam tug. However that's not quite accurate. Now we publish the story, as told by the sister-in-law and sons of the then Chief Mate John Jungblut, who spent a lot of time on board “Padua” until 1945, by the son of the then Second Mate Winfried Behrens and by one of the few sailors still alive, Wolfhardt “Oenschi” Schoenfeld. 

“Padua”/”Kruzenshtern” during the Second World War
When the Wehrmacht attacked Poland on 1st September 1939, the “Padua” was in Hamburg. She had almost finished loading for her next voyage to Chile. After a few months it was clear that the war would not end anytime soon. Therefore the shipowners, Reederei F. Laeisz – the world-renowned Flying P-Line – decided to move their precious sailing vessel from Hamburg to the Baltic Sea in early 1940 to use her as a sail training and cargo vessel.
Due to the war it was not possible for Captain Wendt to sail with the “Padua” around Cape Skagen, the northern tip of the Jutland Peninsula, as “Kruzenshtern” still does several times every year – the ship had to go via the Kiel Canal. To pass under the bridges, the sailors had to remove the 3 upper yards and take down the topgallant masts. As the four-masted bark in those days was without an engine, a tugboat took her from Hamburg to Kiel, where the yards and masts were put in place again, and on to the port of Stettin (today Szczecin in Poland). On board “Padua” were not only 34 crew members, but also 40 cadets, who trained to become seamen in the German Merchant Navy.
In the summer of 1940 the movie “Ein Herz geht vor Anker” (Сердце становится на якорь) was made on board of the beautiful vessel and in November the “Padua” set out for – as it turned out to be later – her very last cargo voyage. She sailed to Reval (today Tallinn, Estonia) to collect a cargo of timber and was back in Stettin a month later. 

Captain Wendt left the “Padua” on April 1st, 1941 and Otto Schommartz became the new captain. “Padua” was taken to the Stettiner Oderwerft AG Shipyard to be re-built as a pure sail-training ship. The plans, which still exist in the archives of the German Technical Museum in Munich, actually show great similarity to what “Kruzenshtern” looks like now. Due to the Wehrmacht's attack on the Soviet Union on June 22nd, 1941, nothing came of these plans. The shipyard did some some necessary repairs and fitted the sailing vessel with some anti-mine equipment and two anti-aircraft guns, one on the forecastle and one near the emergency steering weel at the stern. Thereafter the “Padua” went back to her work as a sail-training vessel.
In April 1943 Captain Schommartz received orders to move the vessel to Riga, Latvia, which then was occupied by the Fascist Wehrmacht. Together with “Padua” also the Norddeutscher Lloyd's sail-training vessel “Kommodore Johnsen” (now “Sedov”) and the small 3-masted frigate “Schulschiff Deutschland” (now stationary training vessel in Bremen) were sent to Riga. After the Soviet Army's great victory in Stalingrad and the liberation of Leningrad in early 1944, Riga was not safe enough for the three ships. Therefore they were moved to Svendbord in Denmark and, in March 1944, to Flensburg. “Padua” - still without engine – was towed by a tug, the other two ships, equipped with Diesel engines, went under their own power.

On April 26th, 1944 the “Padua's” Chief Mate John Jungblut, together with 14 sailors, travelled to Horten in Norway. Their task was to bring the Norwegian sail-training ship “Christian Radich” (built in 1937) to Flensburg. There, in early 1945 the “Christian Radich” fell over in dry dock and capsized together with the dock. The beautiful little ship was severely damaged, but the “Padua'” sailors and cadets helped to repair and re-rig her. She was handed back to Norway after the end of the war and is still sailing. “Kruzenshtern” meets her frequently during the annual summer sail-training races.

“Padua” still was anchored on the roads in the Flensburger Foerde near the small town of Gluecksburg. The cadets were trained as best was possible under these circumstances. However, 40 cadets still were on board the ship, even though life was not as comfortable for them as it had been in the earlier days. The bunks had been replaced with hammocks, the coal-fired stove for heating the bunkroom had been removed because of the fire-hazard, sailing was not possible anymore... But, as Wolfhardt Schoenfeldt told the author, everybody was quite happy to have escaped the Navy for the time being.

During the summer months a new excitement waited for the crew: Another movie was to be made on board of the “Padua”. With the film crew arrived the then greatest star of German cinema - Hans Albers, who was to play the male lead in the new colour-movie “Grosse Freiheit Nr. 7”. This movie, the third one made on board of “Padua”, turned out to become one of the eternal classics of European cinema, translated into many languages, Russian, English, French, Spanish... It still can be found in most well-stocked DVD shops all over Europe. As the Chief Mate's son, who then was a young boy, spending the time with his father on board, told the author, the “Padua” did not really sail for the movie. The Foerde was to narrow and outside it was too dangerous. So the ingenious seamen suggested to put up all sail, connect a thin rope to a tug and have the tug pull the proud sailing ship around the Foerde. And that is what they did.

However, the pleasure did not last long. In autumn 1944 everybody on board understood that the war was lost for the Germans. The crew worried about their families in Hamburg, which had been destroyed by British and American bombers; the food onboard became less and less and the threat of receiving a last minute-draft notice to the U-Boats hang over all them. However, crew and cadets continued to sail – even if only in small boats. These 'Padua-Jollen' (a 'Jolle' is a small one-masted sailboat) had been purpose-built for the ship. Four of them were on board and frequently used, not only for sailing but also for ferrying people from the shore to the ship.

On the 9th of May 1945 it was all over. In August 1945, the British Forces, who had taken command over the north-western part of Germany, ordered the “Padua” back to her homeport Hamburg. So again the crew took down the upper yards and topgallant masts, and the last of the great Windjammers followed docilely behind a tug through the Kiel Canal. In Hamburg the vessel immediately was prepared for sailing again, as the shipowners as well as Captain and crew remembered the quick new start in 1919 after the First World War. This time it was not to be, though.

On 21st December 1945 F. Laeisz received orders to hand over the “Padua” to a crew of the German Navy, who was to take her to Swinemünde (now Swinouscie, Poland) to deliver the four-masted bark to the Soviet Union as a war reparation, together with the “Kommodore Johnsen”. Thus ended the first life of the great four-masted bark and she became the equally famous sail-training ship “Kruzenshtern”.


By Christine Hieber