Emigration Halls

Medical examination in the emigrant halls of the Hamburg-America Line, around 1900, © Staatsarchiv Hamburg

Around 60 million people left Europe in the 19th century. They were drawn to the “New World” – whether for economic, political or religious reasons. As a result, entire families crowded into the stuffy tween decks of the large overseas ships. These ships had delivered raw materials to Europe. On the return trip, there was plenty of free capacity.
The Port of Hamburg played a central role in the second wave of emigration (1880-1915). Albert Ballin, later general director of the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG), came up with the idea of building an “emigrant town” on Amerikakai (and later on the island of Veddel). Here, emigrants were to be housed and fed, but also medically examined, disinfected and quarantined before their departure.
Ballin’s leitmotif “My field is the world” adorned the emigrant halls. Both in business and in his private life, the entrepreneur was closely associated with the banker Max Warburg, Aby Warburg’s brother.