Donau NDL.jpg
Merchant flag of Germany (1919–1933).svg Flag of Germany (1935–1945).svgGermany
Name: Donau[1]
Namesake: River Danube
Operator: Norddeutscher Lloyd (1929-39); Kriegsmarine (1939-45)
Port of registry: Bremen[1]
Builder: Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG Werk Vulcan, Hamburg
  • Code Letters QMJS
  • ICS Quebec.svgICS Mike.svgICS Juliet.svgICS Sierra.svg[1] (1929-39);
  • DOBR
  • ICS Delta.svgICS Oscar.svgICS Bravo.svgICS Romeo.svg[1] (1939-42)
Fate: Sunk by limpet mines in 1945, raised and scrapped 1952
General characteristics
Type: Cargo ship
Tonnage: 9035 GRT;[1] 5642 net tonnage[1]
Length: 521.0 ft (158.8 m)[1]
Beam: 63.5 ft (19.4 m)[1]
Draught: 31.0 ft (9.4 m)[1]
Installed power: 1000 NHP[1]
Propulsion: triple expansion steam engine and low-pressure steam turbine; screw[1]
Armament: anti-aircraft guns; depth charges (during Second World War)

SS Donau was a Norddeutscher Lloyd refrigerated cargo ship.[2] In the Second World War the Kriegsmarine used it as a transport ship between Germany and Norway. She became known as the "slave ship" after the SS and Gestapo transported 540 Jews from Norway to Stettin, from where they were taken by train to Auschwitz. Only nine of those deported on the Donau survived.[3]


Donau was built in Hamburg for Norddeutscher Lloyd of Bremen and completed in 1929. At 9,035 long tons (9,180 t) gross she was large for her time, and she was unusual amongst cargo ships for being powered by both a triple expansion steam engine and a steam turbine.

Donau was requisitioned for war service under the command of Kriegsmarine-Dienststelle Hamburg and equipped with anti-aircraft weaponry and depth charges. She was put into service transporting troops from the Eastern Front via Stettin to Oslo and back.[4]

On 26 November 1942 Norwegian police forces under the direction of the Gestapo handed 532 Jewish prisoners to the SS at Pier 1 in Oslo harbor. The ship was under the command of Untersturmführer Klaus Grossmann and Oberleutnant Manig. Men and women were put in separate holds on the ship, where they were deprived of basic sanitary conditions and mistreated by the soldiers.[5] Only 9 of the prisoners survived the Second World War.[6]

On or shortly before 16 January 1945, Roy Nielsen from Milorg and Max Manus from Kompani Linge planted ten limpet mines 50 centimetres (1.6 ft) under the waterline along a 60-metre (200 ft) section of the port side of the ship, while she was docked in Oslo. The intention was for the bombs to detonate in open sea once the ship had cleared the Oslofjord but, because departure on the morning of 17 January 1945 was delayed, the bombs went off before the Donau reached Drøbak, where the captain managed to beach her. Seven years later the wreck was pulled off and towed to Bremerhaven for scrapping.[7] These events are related in the 2008 Norwegian film Max Manus.

On January 16, 1945, the saboteurs Roy Nielsen and Max Manus placed a limpet mine on SS Donau which lowered the German transport vessel, so that it remained at a 45 degree angle on a shallow close to Drøbak. Photo from 1952 when the wreck was raised and removed for recess.
National Archives of Norway


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Details of the Ship: Name: Donau". Plimsoll ShipData. Retrieved 10 August 2010.
  2. ^ dead link: Losses of the German merchant navy in World War II: C-D (in German)
  3. ^ Postboks 1168 Blindern. "Transporten med D/S Donau - HL-senteret" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  4. ^ Ottosen, Kristian (1994). "Overfarten". I slik en natt - historien om deportasjonen av jøder fra Norge (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aschehoug. pp. 67–72. ISBN 82-03-26049-7.
  5. ^ dead link: "D/S Donau" (in Norwegian). The Center for Studies of Holocaust and Religious Minorities. Archived from the original on 2011-07-24. Retrieved 2008-02-23.
  6. ^ Av Astrid Hygen Meyer. "Klassekampen : Aldri mer 26. november". Retrieved 2012-07-16.
  7. ^ Ottosen (1994), p. 72