S.S. GROSSER KURFÜRST - (2nd page)

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This is my second page about the Grosser Kurfürst. Other Grosser Kurfürst pages are numbered 70, 72 & 73. Hopefully this page will expand as new data becomes available. Actually it has expanded too much already! Part of its content will need to be moved to another page.


Two early postcards, of a similar theme. Both dating from 1905, I believe. Visually interesting, aren't they! I think both are of the vessel passing the Red Sand Lighthouse in Germany. The one at left sold for U.S. $4.00, while the one at right sold for U.S. $16.00, both in Aug. 2003. But we have the number of funnels mystery again! For which at present I have no explanation. Can anybody explain?

A very pretty postcard, which was mailed at Cincinnati, Ohio, on Jun. 23, 1904. An e-Bay item which closed on Feb. 02, 2012, but I cannot understand the screen you come to. Did it sell? Regardless, we thank 'historic_view_postcards', of Florida for this fine image.

A very pretty image, a larger version of a similar postcard available on a prior page.

A larger version of the next image is available by clicking the image.


On Jan Daamen's site there is a list of members of the crew of the Grosser Kurfürst at the time of the Volturno disaster - provided by Tony Jones of North Wales.

It is clear that most of the following list surely did receive medals. How do I know that? See the text at the very bottom of page 08 where it states that Board of Trade medals were only distributed to the Grosser Kurfürst recipients or next of kin in 1924 - World War 1 having been the cause for the many years of delay. The medal numbers on that page, (Seydlitz & Grosser Kurfürst combined), do not agree quite perfectly however with the two crew lists even when one excludes the Captains - who likely would not have been granted medals since they would not have been personally involved in the physical rescue efforts.

Here, with his kind permission, is Tony's complete list. 34 names in total. Thank you, Tony!

Max Spangenberg Captain E. Bulow Seaman
Heinrich Hashagen 1st Officer H. Schlichting Seaman
Horst von Carlsburg 2nd Officer (sen.) Karl Fempel Seaman
Simon Bremer 2nd Officer Alfred Pfeifer Seaman
Hermann L. von Sonnenberg 3rd Officer Franz Mrozinsky Seaman
Erich Rogge 4th Officer G. Lindemann Chief Steward
Karl Bornemann Quartermaster W. Cattany 2nd Steward
Adolf Harms Quartermaster Hans Kurth Steward
J. Luhrs Quartermaster O. Heinmann Steward
Franz Evermann Sailmaker Charly Jurgens Steward
Richard Tschirschnitz Seaman R. Antenriedt Steward
August Kempf Seaman H. Heinz Chief Sculleryman
Albert Sielaff Seaman Hermann Mortiz Engine Repairer
August Wagener Seaman R. Wagner Fireman
Otto Jantzen Seaman W. Scheffler Fireman
H. Schröder Seaman O. Dingel Fireman
Karl Zeiler Seaman A. Mertens Fireman

On Mar. 7, 2007, the Sea Gallantry (Foreign Services) Medal, awarded to Wilhelm Cattany, Second Steward, was sold at auction by 'Dix Noonan Webb' of London. The medal was one of a group of 4 medals issued to 'Cattany', three of which related to the Volturno disaster. In addition to the Sea Gallantry Medal also sold were his Prussian, 'Order of the Crown', (unnamed), the  'Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York medal in bronze' with brooch bar & inscribed. And also his Honour Medal of the World War, issued by Germany. All were in extremely fine condition. The hammer price, for all four medals, was £880. 

I learn that a German live saving society, of name unknown, granted a cash award of $2,000 to the lifeboat crews of Seydlitz & Grosser Kurfürst & granted gold and silver medals to the captains & officers of those & possibly other vessels also. As per the text at left which appeared in the Calgary Herald newspaper of Calgary, Alberta, Canada on Nov. 14, 1913.

In early 2006 I can advise that the name of the German lifesaving society IS now known thanks to the diligent research activities of Bernard de Neumann of the U.K. & his colleagues on the continent. How wonderful! It was and is 'Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffsbrüchiger (DGzRS)', a very long established German lifesaving society indeed, dating from 1865. The name translates as 'German Society for the Rescue of the Shipwrecked'. They have an extensive German language website here but the sole English page (if I am correct) is here. Do read it! It explains the Society's purposes & history. It would seem that they continue to be involved today in a major way in sea rescue in both the North & Baltic Seas, & have, astonishingly, 184 full time rescue personnel, about 800 volunteer rescue personnel both men & women, & about 80 voluntary physicians. My word! How splendid.

Bernard advises me, based on data kindly provided by DGzRS, that the following awards were made re the Grosser Kurfurst as they relate to the Volturno rescue efforts:

Large Gold Medal with diploma: Captain Max Spangenberg, 2nd Officer Horst von Carlsburg
Large Silver Medal with diploma: 1st Officer Heinrich Hashagen
Small Gold Medal with diploma: 2nd Officer Simon Bremer, 3rd Officer Herman Liebermann von Sonnenberg and 4th officer Erich Rogge
Small Silver Medal with diploma: Quartermaster Karl Bornemann and sailors Richard Tschirschnitz and Albert Sielaff.

And here, courtesy of DGzRS in Germany, is an image of such a medal. I understand that all the medals are essentially similar in appearance but differ, of course, in the metal (gold or silver), & in size (large or small).

There was also 8,000 Marks in cash distributed - perhaps to the German rescuers of both Grosser Kurfurst & Seydlitz who did not receive medals.

Bernard de Neumann wonders whether 4th officer Erich Rogge (above) was any relation to the WW2 German raider captain Bernhard Rogge of the Hilfskreuzer (auxilliary cruiser) Atlantis (Schiff 16) which sank, amongst other ships, the (British) Automedon on Nov. 11, 1940. Automedon carried on board, in a safe, the secret plans for the defence of Singapore. Those plans & other documents were captured & read by the Germans before being passed to the Japanese. The Rogge's would have been similar ages. - Stay tuned. Bernard may well find out if there is any relationship!


It is a real pleasure when, totally out of the blue, one receives an e-mail bearing gifts! In this case totally new information & fine new images that relate to Volturno and/or to the many ships involved in the rescue effort. It does not happen very often! So I thank most sincerely Manfred Grigo, of Schwerte, near Dortmund, in central Germany, for the information he has so kindly provided - i.e. data about Franz Evermann, sailmaker on the Grosser Kurfürst in Oct. 1913, clearly a crew member in one of the Grosser Kurfürst lifeboats which collectively saved 106 of those aboard the burning Volturno.

At left, in the composite image below, is what is believed to be Franz Evermann, along with an image of a Grosser Kurfürst lifeboat, presumably taken when the seas had calmed sufficiently to permit the rescue efforts to take place.

Franz's full name was, I learn, 'Franz August Friedrich Evermann'. He was born on Oct. 31, 1886 in Lehe, today part of Bremerhaven, Germany. He was almost 27 years of age & single in October 1913. It is most likely that he was interned when he later arrived in New York on Jul. 21, 1914, a sailor on Grosser Kurfürst's last trip from Bremen (line 4 on Ellis Island manifest pages 974 & 975). And even though those manifest pages seem to indicate that he & others were seeking work in New York, he was surely held at the internment camp on Ellis Island, New York. We say that since a Christmas related card exists, dated at Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1914. And also, which really clinches the matter, a postcard, dated Sep. 04, 1917, from a friend who was interned at Hot Springs, North Carolina, addressed to Fr Evermann of Grosser Kurfürst at Ellis Island. He likely returned to Germany when he could & was a sailor after WW1. Data about Franz is not extensive. However, seven years later, on Oct. 21, 1921, he know that he married Anna Frida Hedwig Wöllner, of Rudolstadt, Thuringia, Germany, & was listed on the marriage document as being a 'Bootsmann' or helmsman. We also know that he worked for a construction company in Bremerhaven in late 1939. He died at age 76, in Bremerhaven, on Dec. 14, 1962.

Franz had one son, Kurt Franz Evermann, born Jan. 16, 1923. Kurt married Erna at Bremerhaven in Aug. 1958, (his 2nd marriage). He had no children (by either marriage) & while his widow Erna is still very much alive in early 2008 at age 90, Kurt himself passed away on Jul. 29, 1997. Kurt was Manfred Grigo's stepfather-in-law, I understand. Hence Manfred Grigo's interest & knowledge of these matters.

For his actions in the Volturno rescue, Franz was granted, (by the British Government), the silver 'Sea Gallantry Medal, Foreign Service', with the sum of £3, & also was granted the bronze lifesaving award of The Life-Saving Benevolent Association of New York. And additionally he was granted 'The Prussian Medal of the Order of the Crown', in its correct German title 'Preussischer Kronenorden Medaille'. (A fine image of such a medal is lower on this page). And probably other awards also. The New York medal is still in the possession of the family today.

Images? Yes indeed! And fine images, too.

We are first able to show you a splendid image of part of the Grosser Kurfürst crew, probably the crew of a single lifeboat, along with an officer, believed now with some certainty to be Horst von Carlsburg, 2nd Officer (Senior) - see officer image below. Franz Evermann is believed to be the crew member at the extreme left of the image. That image is followed by a second equally fine image of many of the ship's crew, with Captain Spangenberg at left. One can identify a number of the faces as matching in both images - the two at right in the top image are clearly in the lower image also, as is, I believe, the officer in the first image - four to the right of the Captain in the second. But Franz Evermann? He may possibly be the seaman, seated and second from the right in the lower image. I should add that there is a third crew image available, visible here.

Amazingly, the tall crew member beside Franz Evermann is now recognised by Lynn McMeans as being none other than her grandfather, Henry Schroeder! His extensive data is below.

And a wonderful image of the Grosser Kurfürst officers. And we can identify them, all these years later, with a great degree of certainty!

From left to right: Horst von Carlsburg - 2nd Officer (Senior),  Hermann L. von Sonnenberg - 3rd Officer, Erich Rogge - 4th Officer, Max Spangenberg - the Captain, Simon Bremer - 2nd Officer, & Heinrich Hashagen - 1st Officer. I should say that my reduced size image, reduced to fit the width of this page, does poor justice to the quality of the original.

Now Simon Bremer, the 2nd Officer & second from the right in the image below, was in the thick of the rescue, at sea & in command of one of the Grosser Kurfürst lifeboats for many hours. I say that because the Leslie's Weekly Illustrated Newspaper material on page 12 refers to his having saved 34 lives.

And a most interesting image of the Volturno burning. A part only of the entire image. Which provides a very good idea of the sea conditions at the time.

Franz also received a letter similar to that below re Henry Schroeder from North German Lloyd Lines ('Norddeutscher Lloyd') which congratulated him for his braveness in the Volturno rescue & rewarded him with an extra month's salary.

There is more about Franz Evermann! A splendid image, of date unknown, taken at Hot Springs, North Carolina, U.S.A., which shows, it is believed, Franz Evermann at extreme right in the top row. Perhaps of the group who were interned there through the duration of WW1, plus Franz, of course. Maybe then dating from 1918, i.e. soon after the end of the war.

And here, at left, is Franz Evermann & his wife Anna, dating from the late 1950s. And at right, Franz on his own, taken shortly before he passed away in 1962.


We now know much about H. Schröder, a seaman aboard Grosser Kurfürst who was decorated for his rescue efforts re Volturno. He originated, I learn, from Esens, Ostfriesland, a small town near the northern coast of Germany & relatively close to Bremen. We know that his first name was Heinrich. And believe that he was interned when he arrived in New York on the vessel's last trip from Bremen. He is listed, at age 25, in the Ellis Island records re that final trip which arrived on Jul. 21, 1914 (line 20 on manifest pages 974 & 975). It would seem, from the data on my first Grosser Kurfürst page that he would have been aboard the ship until Apr. 1917 and then would have been sent to an internment camp on Ellis Island. He stayed in the U.S., changed his first name to Henry & his surname to Schroeder. He married & settled in Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he established a painting business that put his skills in gold leaf & as an artist to good use. The couple had three children, all girls. Branches of his family today live in the southern U.S., in the States of Georgia & Arizona. And his medals remain in the extended family archives today.

The extensive information we have on site about Heinrich Schröder is thanks to Lynn McMeans, of the State of Georgia, Dawn Long of the State of Arizona & Glenn Frazee also, all of them Henry's grandchildren. I thank you all!

It would seem that there may, in fact, have been more than one German medal issued to the crews of Seydlitz & Grosser Kurfürst. Seaman Schröder's medal would seem to have been awarded by the German government rather than by a life-saving society. And he was awarded, also, the 'Sea Gallantry Medal' (foreign service) & also the bronze medal (but called a bronze medal pin it would seem) awarded by 'The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York'. With its distinctive edge.

Dawn Long has now forwarded a number of wonderful images of the Heinrich Schroder medals, images made by Dawn Long's cousin Glenn Frazee, whose photographic skills we applaud & whom we sincerely thank. Glenn is a grandchild of Henry, his mother having been Gwendolyn Schroeder Frazee, Henry's youngest daughter.

I thought it best to 'pair' the images, i.e. front and back of each medal side by side. So here, first, are some splendid images of Heinrich's 'German' Medal. A beautiful medal indeed. But what type of medal is it? Well, as a result of research conducted by Bernard de Neumann in England with the assistance of his contacts on the continent (thanks to all), it is possible that the medal in fact may be 'The Prussian Medal of the Order of the Crown'. An image of such a medal, provided by Bernard, is shown at left. It surely seems to match!

Bernard also advises that the giant letters are 'WR'. The Kaiser was Wilhelm (of Kaiser Bill fame), so the 'WR' would stand for Wilhelmus Rex (King Wilhelm or William in Latin).

Next is Heinrich's Sea Gallantry Medal (foreign service), again both sides. Surely the very best images so far on this site of a 'foreign service' Sea Gallantry Medal. It is inscribed on its edge 'H. Schroeder "Volturno" 9th October. 1913'. The medal, we know, could be an original or perhaps a 'duplicate', issued in 1924 long after WW1 had ended, under some special circumstances which are set out at length on the foot of site page 08.

Now there was a third medal awarded to Heinrich, the bronze medal pin awarded by 'The Life Saving Benevolent Association of New York'. The New York medal reads on its face 'THE LIFESAVING BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK INCORPORATED 1849' and the bar at top bears the date of 'OCTOBER 10, 1913'. On the other side it says 'VITA FELICIBUS AUSIS SERVATA' and centered under that 'AWARDED TO HEINRICH SCHRODER (name engraved) FOR SAVING HUMAN LIFE IN PERIL' At the very bottom, in miniscule letters, 'TIFFANY & Co' & 'BRONZE' & ny.' A fine image of that medal is available on this site. But, in view of the number of medal images already on this page, I think perhaps that I should best place that image elsewhere. So you can view that image on site page 43.

Above on this page, we now have an image of Henry, taken aboard Grosser Kurfürst in Oct. 1913 with what looks like his entire lifeboat crew.

And here is Henry himself, at left as a young man taken by a Broadway, New York, photographic studio. And at right he is with his wife Catherine on the occasion of the on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary. These images are from the family archives thanks to Dawn Long (a Heinrich granddaughter) who kindly provided them. We thank you Dawn! And we thank Lynn McMeans, also!

Now a Norddeutscher LLoyd letter exists dated Nov. 3, 1913, congratulating Heinrich Schröder for his part in the Volturno rescue. And I am now able to show it to you! The letter states, amongst other things, that there will be a whole month's extra pay waiting for him when he attends the Norddeutscher LLoyd offices in Bremerhaven. The letter is in German, of course. A translation follows. That letter is paired (next image below) with a photo of Henry's painting truck outside a Catholic church where he was painting the dome.

Norddeutscher Lloyd                                                                                                 Bremen, November 3, 1913
Nautical Department

Mr. Sailor Schröder, D. "Grosser Kurfürst",


We have gathered from the reports of Mr. Captain Spangenberg, that you, in danger of losing your own life and with special skill of a seaman have taken part with great success in the rescue of many human lives from the burning Steamer Volturno.
This brave act has before the whole world contributed to put the reputation and the ability of the German sailor in the brightest light. The Norddeutscher Lloyd is especially thankful, that it was because of the brave behaviour of the crews from two of its steamers, many human lives were saved from these steamers.
In consequence it was decided, besides this recognition to transfer also a whole month's wages, which will be paid to you when you show this brief of the Norddeutscher Lloyd agency in Bremerhaven.

Nautical Department


And another image of Heinrich as a young man, taken in Germany I understand, but at an unknown date & location.


We are grateful to Michael Buschow of 'Archiv der Seefahrt Hamburg/Cuxhaven', for kindly providing the material which follows. Michael kindly left a message in the site's guestbook - about one of the brave Grosser Kurfürst seamen who, in Oct. 1913, went to the rescue of passengers aboard the burning Volturno.

The two images below show the large (nearly 40 x 50 cm.) & beautiful coloured award granted to seaman Richard Tschirschnitz by 'Deutsche Gesellschaft zur Rettung Schiffbrüchiger' to recognise his service that day. Collectively the Grosser Kurfürst lifeboats saved 106 of those aboard the burning Volturno. Such organisation, long established in Germany (dates from 1865), to this day provides search & rescue services in German waters. Michael advises that the award, still in its original frame, would likely have been proudly displayed on Richard Tschirschnitz's living-room wall for as long as he lived.

Richard was also awarded the Sea Gallantry Medal (foreign service), for his service re Volturno. His silver Sea Gallantry medal is, apparently, mounted in a small  half-circled tin frame which has two pins at its backside to fix it behind the paper - so the medal will never be damaged. It is included in the framed award at the very bottom as you can see below. Images of such a foreign service medal can be seen here.

The images are courtesy of 'Archiv der Seefahrt Hamburg/Cuxhaven'. Michael, we thank you!


It is strange, in advancing this site, how one piece of information can lead to more. The paragraphs above that relate to Heinrich Schröder made me wonder whether other Grosser Kurfürst crew members who received medals etc. re Volturno, may similarly have been crew members in Jul. 1914 and interned in the U.S. And I think it is so.

There are matching names between the medal list above & the Ellis Island manifests. Adolf Harms, J. (maybe Johann) Luhrs, Franz (maybe Friedrich) Evermann, (now documented above) & G. (maybe George) Lindemann do seem to appear on the same Ellis Island manifest pages (974 & 975) as did seaman Schröder, on lines 6, 8, 4 & 27 respectively. But the entries re Luhrs & Lindemann have been lined through. Could that mean that they later decided not to stay in the U.S. but rather to return to Germany when permitted to do so? Does anybody know? And could Franz Mrozinsky be the August Mrozinsky who appears at line 17 on that same manifest? There are other names which are relatively close to matching also.

And on this manifest page (966) there is a Hermann Moritz at line 9 which seems likely to be the Hermann Mortiz listed above. His name also is lined through, however.

Help is clearly needed!


I have indicated, earlier in these pages, that the Grosser Kurfürst served as a troopship, in its re-incarnation as the Aeolus, & transported literally thousands of U.S. soldiers in World War I. Sold on e-Bay, in late Jan. 2004, was a photograph from that period, taken on one of the Aeolus's troopship voyages of the Sep. 1917 - Sep. 1919 period. The image below appears on this page courtesy of Grace Weaver who, with the e-Bay moniker of 'schmoozer' tells me that the image detail is good & each face is quite clear. The print is giant! 20" x 12" in size. We thank Grace, who scanned it in four pieces, because it is so very large, for use on this page! The photograph was by 'Holladay', of Newport News, Virginia.

Now the troops all look to me to be sailors. And none of them seem to be war casualties. Would they all then be on their way to man vessels in Europe?

And a photograph of the Aeolus, the work of O. W. Waterman of Hampton, Virginia. The exact date seems not to be known but must also be in the 1917/1919 period. The postcard sold in May 2004 via e-Bay for U.S. $8.00. My purpose is just to show the vessel. So I do not provide the entire postcard, having cut off a portion of the sky.


One of the Volturno passengers was, I understand, a 27 year old immigrant, from Katerinesloff (or Ekaterinoslov or Ekaterino), Russia, named David Karpofsky. (I wondered where exactly Katerinesloff was located since I could not spot the name in my atlas. Now Ellen Karp has kindly given me the answer. It is in my National Geographic Society atlas as Dnepropetrovsk. And Denepropetrovsk & Dnipropetrovsk are other spellings. It is, in fact, Ukraine's 3rd largest city & is located on the river Dnieper in southern Ukraine.) Anyway, David Karpofsky was rescued by the Grosser Kurfürst, & arrived (line 7) in New York, in Oct. 1913, as did the other Volturno survivors, with the clothes he was wearing being quite literally all of his worldly property. It would seem that he chose not to talk with his later family in Queen's, New York, of his experiences of that journey, as you can read here. The Grosser Kurfürst arrived in New York, with David aboard, on Oct. 16, 1913.

Bernard Karp, who wrote that article, is David Karpofsky's son, & through these pages I refer often to material kindly provided to the webmaster by Ellen Karp, who is David Karpofsky's grand daughter. And Bernard's daughter.


You can probably read the text at bottom right in the image I next provide. But it reads (from a dispatch ex New York dated October 16, 1913):

'A Family Reunited

In the work of rescue Jan Jablonecki was picked up by the Grosser Kurfuerst and on his arrival in port yesterday was overjoyed to learn that his wife was saved by the Seydlitz and his five children by the Devonian, a whole family divided in the catastrophe, and yet all rescued by different boats.'

What follows is a work in progress. As I try to figure it all out!

Now you would think that such an unusual situation could be easily tracked through the Ellis Island Site and Jan Daamen's Volturno passenger list - which was derived from Ellis Island data. But it is not, in fact, easy at all!

There is a record for Rosalia Jablonetka, 38 years old from Kulmsee, Germany, who arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 16, 1913 on the Seydlitz. The manifest, here & here (line 7) seems to indicate that her husband Johann was rescued by the Grosser Kurfürst & her five children by an English vessel. The children were Helena 11 1/2, Palagia 1 (means Vilagis 9, I think), Waleina 7, Anton 4 1/2 & Kom....? 1 1/2. (I found the writing to be quite difficult to read. So forgive me if those names & ages are not perfect.) There also is a listing for John Yablonecki, 40 years old & clearly from the same place in Germany. I did spot four of the five children arriving in New York on Nov. 1, 1913 aboard the Uranium ex Rotterdam & listed under the name of Yallonesky - but written on the manifest page here as Jallonesky (lines 6 through 9). The baby? Have not resolved that matter yet. And I cannot spot a child in Jan Daamen's master list that seems to 'match'. Is it possible he or she died? You would have thought that all five related children would have travelled to the U.S. on the very same ship. All were destined for Minneapolis.

I can now answer that question! While I still do not know his name, I do know that the final child stayed in Rotterdam when his three sisters & his brother were sent to New York via the Uranium. He had the measles & his sickness was prolonged. He was finally delivered to his family in Minneapolis in Jan. 1914 having been sent to New York by a vessel whose name I do not know. How do I know all of that? Go to page 21 of this site to read what I myself have read which explains it all. (Note the name of Valentine Rouletski is a fictitious name as are all the names in that Red Cross report.)

So the members of a single family would seem to have been recorded officially as Jablonetka, Yablonecki & Yallonesky. So be it, I guess! I wonder which is the correct family name. Will we ever know?

Yes we do! Barbara Towler was in touch via the guestbook in Apl. 2015. And she advised that Rosalia Jablonetka (Jablonecki) was her great grandmother who was reunited with her husband and five children. All of the family lived to adulthood in Minneapolis. My grandmother, Helen the oldest, married, had five children, 12 grandchildren & lived to see several of her great-grandchildren. She did not relate much of her experience on the Volturno, so this information is a gem. Thank you.

Regardless, the Globe story on October 17, 1913 would surely seem to be amazingly accurate.


And another composite image. At left a card believed to date from the 1910's, of Kapitän G. Rott, R P D of the Grosser Kurfürst - published by Hobbing & Co. of Germany; next a card of unknown origin; and a modern coaster, presented here because the logo seems to have not changed over the years. I picked it up at a garage sale of a Toronto couple who, by the number of different coasters they had, must have visited just about every pub that exists in both the U.K. & Germany! They agreed with my assessment & said they had visited many more countries with a similar diligence!

If YOU have any new data about the Volturno, or in any way related to the Volturno, I would welcome your writing to me.

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 01. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

Other Grosser Kurfürst pages are numbered 70, 72 & 73.

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