THE PRINZ EITEL FRIEDRICH : WORLD WAR I RAIDER : INTERNED IN NEWPORT NEWS, VIRGINIA (1915 RPPC)

This vintage photo postcard documents a fascinating time in world history. In addition, the postcard is rare. An online search was unable to find a duplicate of this interesting postcard. The postcard features the SS Prinz Eitel Friedrich, a German passenger liner which also saw service in World War I. The ship served as an auxiliary cruiser of the Imperial German Navy. It was the second most successful of Germany’s first wave of auxiliary cruisers. Between August (1914) and March (1915), the Prinz Eitel Friedrich sank 11 ships. The ship was built in 1904 for a shipping company by the AG Vulcan shipyard in Stettin. Stettin is located near the Baltic Sea and the German border. The city is a major seaport. For the ten years prior to World War I, the Prinz Eitel Friedrich operated within Far East trade routes. Just before the war, the ship was converted into an auxiliary cruiser. Guns and gunboat crews were added to the ship and Max Therichens took command. In 1914, she joined the German East Asia Squadron. She was then detached and went to the coast of Australia. She operated in the Pacific and South Atlantic. The Prinz Eitel Friedrich sunk ships from Britain, France, Russia, and America (ship named William P Frye). The sinking of the William P. Frye was the first instance of a neutral American ship being sunk by the German Navy. By 1915, the ship was “played out” and sought haven in the United States, a neutral nation at that time. She sailed into Newport News harbor where she was interned. She had 342 prisoners onboard, taken from the ships, she had destroyed. It was reported that Therichens treated his prisoners kindly and had in fact become friends with the captured captain of the William P. Frye. This postcard documents the Prinz Eitel Friedrich after it arrived in Newport News. According to the photograph, it appears that many people came to the harbor to view the ship. The ship and it’s crew became media sensations with local and national newspapers. There were many accounts of the ship’s exploits and interviews with the captain. It was learned, remarkably, that in all of the ship’s exploits, not a single life was lost by the Germans nor their foes. In 1917. the United States declared war on Germany, and the Prinz Eitel Friedrich was transferred to the US Navy. She was refitted to become a troop transport and commissioned the USS DeKalb. The ship operated on the trans Atlantic route and survived the war. After the war, 1920 specifically, the ship became an immigrant ship for the United American Line of New York. It’s last voyage in that capacity was in 1925. She then was retired and finally scrapped in 1934. You probably just read more about the Prinz Eitel Friedrich than you wanted to know. However, I have more to add to complete the saga.  Interestingly, the ship’s captain, Max Thierichens of the Imperial German Navy, was placed on trial in 1917. The trial occurred in Philadelphia and received much national attention. Thierichen had become a popular figure in the US during his two years prior to becoming a prisoner of war. He was considered a celebrity by many US citizens and a hero by German Americans. Apparently he had a number of amorous adventures in America. The result was felony charges of sex trafficking (white slavery). He was convicted and imprisoned. He received a fourteen month sentence. Facts of the trial are unclear but to be certain, the trial had political purposes.  This rare and historic postcard is in very good condition. It’s AZO stamp box indicates that the postcard is from between 1904 and 1918. The card is marked with a copyright of 1915.   (SOLD)

Published in: on June 27, 2020 at 12:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

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