Model of VORWÄRTS steam ship, ex GRETE CORDS (1903); ex JOHANN AHRENS (1926)

Scale: 1:75, measurements: length: 102 cm

Model builder: Günter Lettow, Rostock-Warnemünde

On 13th October 1950 something unusual in the history of German shipping happened in Stralsund. The almost 50 year old steamer built under construction no. 214 in 1903 as GRETE CORDS by the “Neptune” corporation, a shipyard & machine works in Rostock, was brought back into service. It was the first steam ship in the GDR and was given the programmatic name VORWÄRTS. 

It was brought out of service in 1954 and then used in Rostock as a stationary teaching ship by the pioneer “Ernst Thälmann” organisation.

In November 1950 the VORWÄRTS steamed off on its first trip with around 1,000 tonnes of general cargo to Ventspils in the USSR – now Latvia. 

In almost four years the VORWÄRTS transported around 90,000 tonnes of freight. It was brought out of service after suffering damage to the boiler in 1954. The repair costs incurred were more than four times the value of the ship at the time. Yet scrapping the ship was not an option – “the Party would not allow that.” The VORWÄRTS had to be kept as a symbol of GDR shipping. So the pioneer “Ernst Thälmann” organisation took over the converted steamer for its own purposes. Until 1988 the VORWÄRTS was stationary in the port of Rostock and used as a teaching ship for the initial maritime training of young people. In spite of mass protests, the symbolic steamer was scrapped in April 1989.


Text: P. DC.

The exhibit refers to:

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Look here for the original exhibit:

Schifffahrtsmuseum Rostock

Schifffahrtsmuseum Rostock

Maritime Museum Rostock

IGA Rostock 2003 GmbH
Schmarl-Dorf 40
18106 Rostock