Friday, March 13, 2009
The impressive HAPAG-Lloyd headquarters building (“HAPAG-Lloyd-Verwaltungsgebaude”) is located on the Southeastern edge of The Inner Alster Lake. It is the headquarters building of what formerly was the largest shipping company in the world, HAPAG-Lloyd, owner of the old Hamburg-America Line.
Built in 1902 and 1903 to designs by Martin Haller, and remodeled by Fritz Hoger in the 1920’s, the HAPAG-Lloyd headquarters building was the finest corporate structure—in Germany or elsewhere—of its day. With its Classical front façade directly overlooking the lake, the building was originally named after shipping company owner Albert Ballin.
When the National Socialists came to power, the company voluntarily changed the name of its headquarters building, as its former chairman had been of the Jewish faith. The name of the building never reverted to its original form, but after the war the street in front of the building—now Ballindamm—was named after Ballin.
The front façade on Ballindamm and the equally-impressive rear façade are both symbolic of the HAPAG-Lloyd Shipping Company’s enormous wealth. In the early 20th century, the Hamburg-America route made the company one of the very largest and wealthiest businesses in the world.
Albert Ballin’s personal motto, “Mein Feld Ist Die Welt” (“The World Is My Oyster”), is engraved in the main entrance hall.