The German Arctic Expedition of 1869-70, and Narrative of the Wreck of the “Hansa” in the Ice….

A book of varied authorship recounting the tale of two ships, the Hansa and the Germania, which became separated, with one wrecked on an expedition to the North Pole.

Volume I:

p. 31, re cabin-life on the Germania at the start of the voyage: But as we had packed the greater part of our books, clothes, and small instruments under the mattresses, that means of protection answered no longer; and those lying on the leeward side were obliged every evening to prop it [their berth] up with heaps of books. Even then, it often happened, if the ship rolled heavily, that one of us would be pitched from the upper berth into the middle of the cabin near the stove, and there lie in a state of astonishment.

p. 32, during that storm: The scientific men were particularly impatient, as the constant rolling of the ship prevented them from doing anything but read and read again.

p. 35, note of ship’s newspaper: And the captain did not forget… to enter his meeting with the Germania in the Shipping News; this notice p. 326: being the first news of the expedition seen in the papers.

p. 36: Dr. Buchholz showed me his nice cabin, which he enjoyed all to himself. In front of his bunk was room enough for chests and boxes, not piled one on another, but placed so that they could be got at ; and besides that, a place for a writing- table, where he could work quietly and undisturbed. The deck-space was not encroached upon by all sorts of stores, and even now seemed to offer accommodation for working upon large animals, without being in the way of the sailors. There was room enough for a zoologist in cold and windy weather to put up his table there. We pictured to ourselves our united activity in the brightest co.

p. 58: One glance over the different diaries at this particular time will best sho w the depressing influence of such continual foggy weather. As in the North Sea over the constant north wind, so here over the new enemy, the everlasting complaint was,—"Fog! thick fog!"

p. 59: With the near prospect of the all-absorbing work on the ice and also on land before us, we once more looked up all our things,— instruments, and put them in order, filling up the rest of the time with reading, studying, and playing. We studied Scoresby’s works, read the Swedish expedition, or Lindeman’s “Arctic Fisheries of the German Sea-port Towns,” or turned over the leaves of Kane’s and Parry’s standard works.

p. 62: This necessary “crows’ nest,” already well-known from Scoresby’s and the late Swedish expeditions, was on the 12th [July 1869], with much merriment and many good and bad jokes called forth by its peculiar appellation, hoisted up the mainmast, and fastened by the carpenter to the crosstrees, between the top and the top-shrouds.

p. 81. Aboard the Hansa: Captain Koldewey gave us a signal, which, through the hazy weather, we unfortunately misunderstood. We thought we read, “Long stay a-peak,” which Captain Hegemann interpreted that the ship should sail as far westward as possible. The signal, however, really meant, “Come within hail.” The misunderstanding was fatal; the Hansa pushed on to westward, lost sight of the Germania on the 20th of July, and never saw her again.

p. 101, refers again to Lindeman’s ‘Arctic Fishery,’ and references to McClintock’s Fox and Kane’s first voyage. This was aboard the Hansa.

p. 106-10 gives an account of the wreck of the Hansa on ice of East Greenland—a rather dramatic account of unloading supplies onto the ice.

p. 111-13: There was still a small medicine chest, and a few other things, which in our future position, would be great treasures, such as the cabin-lamp, books, cigars, boxes of gum &c….but still all necessary work was not yet accomplished.

p. 114, in a house built on an ice floe: Along the walls, which were covered with sail-cloth, shelves were placed, on which we laid our books, instruments, and cooking vessels.

p. 117: At the end of October the sun rose at half-past nine a.m., and set behind the rocky coast at three p.m. In the coal-house we could only see to read and write under the dormer-windows for a few hours each day.

p. 119-20: The nights were beautifully light, the light streaming downwards from the heavens; and the snow, with its The nights were beautifully light, the light streaming downwards from the heavens; and the snow, with its receptive and reflective powers glittered so radiantly, that one could read the finest writing without trouble, and see far out into the distance. Amongst other things, on such nights, we always saw the Aurora borealis. As an instance, on the oth of December, it shone so intensely that the starlight waned, and objects on our field cast shadows. The coast, according as it was near or far away, was recognizable now as a dark streak of fog, and now as a rocky form in all its details.

p. 125, at Christmas 1869 they opened their presents and then “fell upon the old newspapers in the boxes.”

p. 152-53: Each one passes the time as he can…. Konrad composes poems; the carpenter relates Vegesack stories…; I studied Heine’s poems, and carved boats, and so on.

Volume II:

p. 265, the book here returns to the Germaniaand its wintering party.

p. 374, during a storm: With anxious glances at the threatened tent-roof we leave the deck and go below, seat ourselves at the table, and take a book. But reading is impossible. It is already late in the evening, and we can take refuge in our berths. But sleep will not come. Everything about us is in a constant tremble; the stone and glasses clatter, and now and then a stronger shock rouses us from our half-slumber; until at length, as the storm lulls by degrees, fatigue conquers, and helps the weary one to rest. We commend ourselves to heaven, and sleep.

p. 377-78, Nov. 14, 1869: The next day, the first really quiet Sunday, brought a slight interruption to the monotony of our daily life. The first number of the “East Greenland Gazette” appeared.

We thought that on this point too we ought to follow the example of our predecessors, although our prevailing state of mind had as yet in no way required such cheering and refreshing. Materials for the publication of such a number every fourteen days could never be wanting. Unfortunately, a small printing press, given by the printing-house at Bremerhaven, had not followed us on board. In order, therefore, to have two copies, one for the cabin and for the forecastle, we had to take the trouble to write it. Already on the 10th had appeared “Invitation to assist in the publication.” Dr. Pansch was appointed editor, and a locked box was hung up, in which every one dropped his contribution anonymously.

At last, on Sunday at noon, the first number appeared “with a supplement,” sixteen pages in the whole. It contained all sorts of fun, some poems, “official proclamations,” and an address to the men by the doctor.

p. 379, after a storm: Worse than all was the loss of the “Robinson,” which had again disappeared; and this time, in spite of all our search, was not to be found….

On the 21st (Sunday) the second number of our paper appeared, as rich in contents, and with much that was interesting and funny. The following is an example of the official part :—


Whoever finds the body of Robinson (Crusoe), who has disappeared from his island, shall receive a reward of one bottle of wine and one dozen of cigars. Many may compete for this prize at the same time.

Given from our winter quarters, Clavering Straits, Nov. 10. C, Koldewey.

p. 381: “Our leisure hours were spent agreeably in reading, playing at chess, and conversation”—also start of navigation school plus geography, astronomy and natural science.

p. 389, Christmas gifts to each of a small book: German Christmas in East Greenland ice! There stood the powerful forms of big “children,” serious but cheerful, and the finest Christmas-tree rose on deck, glittering with lights and gold and silver; and on the fresh white table-cloth lay the plates with the gifts upon them; they were but trifling things, but they gave much pleasure: small books, letter cases, and so on. Near the tree lay a large harmonica “for the men;” this, with some balls of cord, in which were enclosed different small things, was a present from the ladies of Kiel. On the other side stood the complete model of a full-rigged ship, just finished by P. Iversen. …

But we still wanted a song. Each one had his song-book, a gift from the publisher, G. Westermann, and—were we not Germans, “Vereint zur frohen Stunde”? So it was not long before we had a song. Was it a warning that the “Wacht am Rhein” should resound in the Arctic night?”

p. 392: A new number of the paper appeared on Sunday, which by its diminutive size, showed the decrease of material.

p. 398: On the 11th, when, as usual, all were in the cabin engaged in reading and smoking, some having already sought their berths, about a quarter to nine a slight smell of burning at the lower end of the cabin was perceived. It seemed to spring from the stove, in the fender of which things often fell and smouldered. But as Dr. Copeland went at nine o’clock to the meteorological reading, he noticed a stronger smell and smoke upon the stairs, and, hurrying on deck, was met by a thick vapour. There could no longer be any doubt; there was fire somewhere, and the fireplace in the after-cabin must be the place, as it had been heated for the tailoring. Quickly all hands were to the fore; buckets and vessels of all kinds were brought out; and while some fetched water from the tide-hole, others pulled off the top and saw at once the white flames quivering through the smoke. Some few pails of water soon put it out, and in about a quarter of an hour all was over. Deck-beams and deck-planks were burnt, and charts were smoking; had not help come so speedily, the fire would have burnt through to the coal-bunkers.

p. 417: Amongst other disagreeables of an Arctic sledge-journey is its monotony. The ideas and wishes contained within the limited horizon of life in the Arctic-world pass as quickly away as the eye is wearied by the monotony of the landscape.

p. 574-80: has conclusion describing what expedition accomplished.