Undetected in Nordic Waters: S.M. Berlin

Rudolf Kämmerer, a seaman from the German auxiliary cruiser 'S.M. Berlin', took part in only one military action during World War I. Afterwards he had plenty of time to write an extensive report about it with detailed coloured maps. Kämmerer's diary tells the enthralling story of how the ship was interned and the whole crew were detained in Hommelsvik near Trondheim, in neutral Norway, from November 1914 till the end of the war.

'S.M. Berlin' was a passenger ship converted into a minelayer. On 17 October 1914, the cruiser left Wilhelmshaven loaded with 200 sea mines. Undetected, it passed all British sea barriers, circumnavigated Scotland and reached the Irish Sea. There, in the exit route of Glasgow, the sea mines were sunk. Still unnoticed, the cruiser continued its trip to the polar sea until the coal supply was spent. The ship had to call at the neutral harbour of Trondheim on 16 November 1914 and was detained there. For a long time, the Royal Navy was wondering where the mines in their home waters had come from - to which, among others, 'HMS Audacious' fell victim on 27 October1914.

Map of SM Berlin route Map of SM Berlin route

Sea mine Sailors on SM Berlin

The thrilling diary and the field postcards were a contribution by Bernd Rossberg to the Europeana 1914-1918 collection at the public participation day in Dresden on 22/6/2011. You can see all documents from Rudolf Kämmerer by searching the online First World War archive.
(Text by Frank Drauschke)

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