New facts about “ghost ship” MS Homberg
Researchers bring new light upon circumstances of the German ship MS Homberg’s voyage from Flensburg to Malmö in 1945, as told in Magnus Gertten’s documentary Harbour of Hope. The team behind Harbour Of Hope welcomes this new information. An important addition to the story of the events that took place in Malmö harbour 1945.
On the afternoon of May 11th 1945 the ship MS Homberg arrived in the port of Malmö. Carrying more than a thousand newly released prisoners from German camps in Europe. Many of them were in a very bad condition. Malnourished and diseased. One of the Swedish nurses that took care of the survivors, Gertrud Fröberg, was infected with thyphus and died shortly afterwards. Her son Bo Fröberg tells the story in the film.
German researchers Dirk Lachmann and Uwe Berger contacted us to share information from documents that contests some of the facts given in Harbour Of Hope about MS Homberg. Their main point being that the German navy did not plan to abandon the ship without supplies or fuel in the middle of the Baltic Sea, to be sunk by the Allied.
In fact the ship had been supplied for the voyage from Flensburg to Malmö and the intention was that the ship, with its cargo of former prisoners, should reach the port in Malmö.
A more detailed review of the facts by Lachmann and Berger as quoted below:
“A careful check on the movements of MS Homberg in the relevant time span May 2nd to May 11th, 1945, showed the following result:
May 2nd until May 6th: On May 1st, 1945, MS Homberg had reached Nyborg, Denmark after a rescue mission. The ship then left the port on May 2nd, and arrived at Flensburg on May 6th, 1945. (2)
May 7th to May 9th, 1945, at Flensburg: On May 7th, the harbour master was ordered to supply MS Homberg, moored in the harbour, with 1.200 straw mattresses, a sufficient amount of wood shavings, portable lavatories, and the necessary cleaning kit. The necessary bedding was taken from the steamer Elbing VIII. The Homberg also took food supplies for 1.200 persons and for 6 days on board, and received the fuel needed for a voyage from Flensburg to Malmö from the tanker Frieda. (3)
May 10th, departure for Malmö: In the morning of May 10th, 1945, the transhipment of the former prisoners from MS Rheinfels (which was lying in Flensburg harbour awaiting necessary repair work) to the Homberg was started under the supervision of Allied troops which had reached Flensburg by then; the Rheinfels had served as a floating prison camp from May 4th. On May 10th, at around 12.15 hrs., about 1.350 former foreign prisoners left Flensburg harbour on board MS Homberg for Malmö; the ship had been sufficiently equipped for the voyage. (4) In the Curiohaus law case, the captain of the Homberg, Karl Bröker (according to Haniel Co. his name was Pröckl), confirmed that the voyage from Flensburg to Malmö took about 30 hours. (5)
MS Homberg entered the port of Malmö at 16.30 hrs. on May 11th, 1945.
A small prisoners’ orchestra may have played music on board as there are several musicians mentioned in the extant passengers’ list. (6)
LIST OF SOURCES:
1. Vgl./Cf. “Haniel 1756 – 2006. Eine Chronik in Daten und Fakten“, Duisburg, 2006.
2. Rechnung I/837 der Fa. Franz Haniel (Abschrift) an den Admiral der Kriegsmarinedienststelle Hamburg – Schiffahrtsabwicklungsabteilung, Hamburg 13, Harvenstehuderweg 7, vom 19. Dezember 1945. Archiv Fa. Haniel, DU-Ruhrort. Die Abrechnungen beziehen sich auf Ausgaben für Tageskosten, Treiböl und Schmieröl) in den angelandeten Häfen (s. Anlage 1)./The bills relate to the expenses for the daily charter oft he ship, as well as fuel and lubricants bought at the ports of call.
3. Ulf Lüers, “Die Toten über Bord geworfen …“, KZ-Häftlings-Transporte nach Flensburg April/Mai 1945, S. 303 ff in; Verführt. Verfolgt. Verschleppt. Aspekte nationalsozialistischer Herrschaft in Flensburg 1933 – 1945, Flensburg, 1996
4. Ulf Lüers, ebd./loc.cit.
5. Freundeskreis e.V. (Hg.), Curiohaus-Prozess, Hamburg, 1946, Bd. III, S. 426 f
6. MS Hombergfiles:
Malmö Polis, Kriminalavd., Rappord, HEMLIG, Tisdagen den 26 juni 1945, Liste der befreiten Häftlinge an Bord der MS Homberg, Zeitungsartikel mit Fotos aus: Skanska dagbladet 12.maj 1945 und Sydsvenska 12-maj 1945.