MembersAlbert Ballin

The Jewish shipowner who turned a Hamburg shipping company into the largest in the world.

By Israel Today Staff |
Photo: WikiCcommons


In 1883, Albert married the daughter of a Christian cloth merchant, and while the wedding was a Protestant affair, he did not convert. Despite Albert’s financial success, he was always viewed as somewhat of an outsider, and his refusal to become a Christian likely played into that.

Religion aside, Albert’s profitable schemes at his family business quickly caught the attention of the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft (HAPAG) or Hamburg-America Line, which hired him in 1886. Not long after, Albert organized and oversaw a pleasure sailing aboard a large luxury passenger vessel, thus becoming the father of the cruise ship. The idea was initially scorned by Albert’s peers, but the cruise ship’s enormous success quickly put an end to the criticism. By 1899, he was general director of Hamburg-America, which Albert had helped make into the world’s largest shipping line.

At the height of his success, Albert Ballin was a household...

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