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Hamburg, Germany

Blankenese Shipwrecks

Remnants of an exploded schooner and wrecked submarines form a breakwater. 

On October 20th 1926, an old Finnish four-masted schooner-cum-motor glider, the Polstjernan, was cruising along the Kiel-Canal, when its engine abruptly exploded. Fueled by a cargo bay loaded with wood, the vessel caught fire and couldn’t be quenched.

A rescue boat dragged the ship to the Elbe river while still smoldering. A few days later, it was towed away and left along the beach of Blankenese, west of Hamburg’s harbor, weighted with stones, and turned into the present-day breakwater seen now.  At low tide it’s possible to walk up to the wreck without getting one’s feet wet. 

The Polstjernan is not alone at this site: after World War II, submarine scraps were added to the Polstjernan’s seawall. A few meters away also lies what is left of the barge Uwe, sunk there in 1975 after colliding against the coaster Wiedau. The Uwe was torn into pieces and while most of these chunks had eventually been towed into the harbor, it became apparent its stern was too heavy, and was left between the Polstjernan and the Lighthouse of Blankenese, where it remains to this day.

Know Before You Go

The beach of Blankenese is easily reachable via Hamburg public transport (HVV). Take the S-Bahn line 1 from Altona in direction Wedel/Blankenese to the stop Blankenese and then walked to the beach. It's a nice walk through a park and along the beach, but there are also buses from the train station to the beach. The shipwrecks are about 300 meters down the beach past the lighthouse.