U.S. Consulate General - Hamburg

Posted on in Todd Talks by Todd Johnson

Recently, my colleagues and I were fortunate enough to travel to Hamburg, Germany for SMM (which stands for shipbuilding, machinery, and maritime technology) one of the worlds largest trade fairs dedicated to the marine industry. Prior to our departure, we were invited to attend the prestigious AMVER awards at the US Consulate General in Hamburg. Needless to say, we were flattered and excited to attend.

AMVER is an acronym that stands for Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System. The basic idea behind AMVER is that vessels of participating entities will respond to any at sea emergency, regardless of where or; when it occurs or, the nationality of those needing rescue.

The awards ceremony we attended was to recognize 108 German shipowners and operators for their commitment to maritime safety and their pledge to make themselves available to assist in search and rescue activities anywhere in the world. It was an honor to witness them accepting their awards and to speak with some of the recipients before and after the ceremony.

After sampling a light dinner and enjoying pleasant conversation with our German friends, we were offered a tour of the US Consulate building.

Here is some history about the Consulate taken directly from its website:

The American Consulate in Hamburg was established as one of the first U.S. Consulates on June 17, 1790, when John Parish, a naturalized Hamburg citizen of Scottish birth, was named as Vice Consul. He is the only non-American to have served in this post.

The Consulate was closed from October 3, 1917 until 1922, with the United States' participation in World War I. On July 8, 1941, all U.S. Consulates in Germany were closed for the duration of the war, and American interests were handled by the Swiss Legation.

The Consulate General reopened on March 1, 1946, and the U.S. Government purchased the present facilities in 1950.

History of the Building

The two houses that make up the "White House on the Alster" are prime examples of 19th century upper class Hanseatic architecture. Both were designed by the prominent architect Martin Haller, the architect of the Hamburg Rathaus.

The larger house was built in 1882 for the merchant G. Michaelsen, who sold it in 1891 to Wilhelm A. Riedemann, a pioneer in the oil-shipping business and one of the founders of the German-American Petroleum Company (later ESSO). The neighboring house was built in 1893 for businessman Julius Ree who sold it soon after its completion to Eduard Sanders, the business partner and son-in-law of Mr. Riedemann.

From 1933 to 1945, the houses served as Nazi Party Headquarters in Hamburg. At the end of the war, the houses were confiscated by the British Occupying Forces. In May of 1950, the two houses were purchased by the U.S. Government from the heirs of the owners. The houses were remodeled and joined by the large front classical portico patterned after that of the White House, and the Consulate officially moved in on August 15, 1951.

We learned that we were going to be one of the last groups to tour this facility because the building is for sale. The Consulate is preparing to move to a new location in Hamburg that better suits its needs.

It was surreal walking the floors that some of history's most important and notorious figures had walked. In fact, when he was in town for the 2017 G20 summit, President Trump had dinner with President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in the very ball room where the AMVER awards ceremony took place.

It was an unforgettable night, one that we are all thrilled to have had the opportunity to participate in. And, on top of that, the SMM trade show was a success. We made many important connections and gained several opportunities.

Our next trade show will take us to New Orleans in November for the annual Work Boat show. Although we don't expect to have an experience like the one we had in Hamburg, we are nonetheless excited to participate and continue to advance Penn-Troy's place in the marine industry.