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German vessels to Norway 1945/46

After the end of WWII the remaining German merchant fleet was taken over by the Allies and eventually distributed through the Potsdam agreement and the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency. Norway was involved in two stages: First interim operation of ex-German vessels in Norwegian waters, and secondly by being allocated 44 ex-German vessels at the IARA conference in Brussels in May 1946 and subsequent adjustments.

The German merchant fleet by May 1945

The steamer Karl Christian Lohse (1942) lying in Flensburg on the German surrender in May 1945. What would happen to these vessels?

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1 German vessels allocated to Norway 1946

With a material loss of 686 vessels aggregating 2.2 million gross tons due to enemy action, Norway was among the nations to presents its claim when the issue of allocating German ships as war reparations came up in 1945. By Dag Bakka jr

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2 Finally under steam

On 2 November 1945 the Minister of Trade, Tor Skjønsberg, met with his senior civil servant Peter Simonsen and shipowner Odd Berg from the NSA to settle the final management contracts to the interested companies.

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3 The fight over surrendered ships

IARA, based in Brussels, took its time to obtain full information on the German vessels to be distributed between the Allied nations. Only on 27 February 1946, Ingolf Hysing-Olsen of Nortraship, London, was given a list of 293 vessels of a total of 800,000 gross tons. Now the final battle over distribution could begin.

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4 Inspection and claims

The allocated vessels were formally handled by the Shipping Directorate (Skibsfartsdirektoratet) under the Ministry of Trade in Oslo. This was the same body that had been responsible for securing tonnage for supplies to occupied Norway during the war and also during the UMA-period. From the summer of 1945 the Directorate also involved the Nortraship organization in Britain, but had to use its own personnel in Germany. Its main task was to survey all allocated vessels and start sale proceedings to Norwegian owners as soon as possible.

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German vessels left for temporary Norwegian manning and operation 1945-46

The following 26 vessels were transferred to Norwegian management on an interim basis during the late autumn of 1945. They continued under Norwegian operation until finally allocated by the Potsdam agreement to Russia or returned to Germany. The remaining were allocated to other Aliied nations by IARA conference Brussels in May 1946.

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German vessels allocated to Norway by IARA May 1946

The following 43 vessels were finally allocated to Norway by IARA in May 1946 and under subsequent adjustment. Of these, 5 had previously been on interim management by the Norwegians, and 3 were transferred in February 1947 as replacement for eralier allocated units.

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NSS – Norsk Skipsfartshistorisk Selskap | Norwegian Maritime History Society. epost: dbakka(a)online.no