Click to preview The KdF Fleet in historic photographs photo book

During the 1930s, a now relatively unknown group of passenger ships emerged in Germany. Forbearers of today’s mass-market cruise fleet, the ships of the Third Reich’s Kraft durch Freude (Strength through Joy) movement became some of the most
successful passenger vessels during that fateful decade leading up to the Second World War.

With over 300 photos, this lavishly illustrated volume by author J. Russell Willoughby (Bremen & Europa: German Speed Queens of the Atlantic) gives a photographic glimpse into the lives of these remarkable ships. Accompanied by a history of each vessel, many of these rare and sometimes haunting images are being published here for the first time.


About the Author

Jeffrey Russell Willoughby
linerguy Lawrenceburg, Indiana, US
Enthralled with ocean liners and ocean liner memorabilia since 1985, J. Russell Willoughby has spent a good part of nearly three decades scouring junk shops, antique malls and yard sales. During that time he has managed to acquire over 12,000 items, including everything from menus, deck plans, brochures, postcards and photos to prints, models and furniture. An avid cruiser, he has sailed 43 times on various ocean liners and cruise ships to destinations around the world, including the famous New York to Southampton route. He lives in southeast Indiana, near Cincinnati, with his wife, Jill, their children, Amanda and Elliott, and a crazy schnauzer named Frankie.

Comments (4)


SunViking says

A fascinating look at the real beginning of cruising for the 'common folk'. Unfortunately, sailing under the flag of the Nazi Party. The KDF ships were true pioneers and if WW-2 had not occured - who knows what greatness these ships would have achieved in technology and design. The last ship, "Robert Ley", was a true wonder. Mr. Willoughby has produced a beautiful and fitting tribute to the KDF fleet. Excellent photographs, most never published before, add excellent value. The first extensive history of these ships to be published in the English language. It was long overdue, but well worth the wait! Highly recommended!

posted at 12:24pm Jul 19 PST


Linerrich says

This is the first English-language book I have seen about the KdF ships, which may be why the subject is not well known by many. The KdF ships were truly the first mainstream cruise ships, and although overshadowed by the Nazis, through no fault of their own, these ships were very noteworthy vessels. Mr. Willoughby has done a tremendous job through knowledgeable, yet very readable text, accompanied by a fantastic array of rare photos. The entire book is of very high quality, and I encourage anyone with an interest in ocean liners, or simply the history of cruising, to get a copy of this book!

posted at 12:47pm Jul 14 PST


TDELcmp says

I want to add to my previous comment that the photos accompanying the text are quite interesting. Many of them have been selected from the author's extensive collection.

posted at 06:31am Jul 08 PST


TDELcmp says

I recently ordered and received "The KdF Fleet". I read the author's previous book about the Europa and Bremen ships so I was very interested to read about these ships. This volume is very well-written and presents the essentials facts about each ship's origin, sailing history, and ultimate fate. The story of the "Wilhelm Gustloff" is particularly interesting, given the fact its sinking resulted in the largest loss of life ever for a maritime disaster. I highly recommend this book as a significant addition to the library of anyone with an interest in the great ocean liners of the last century.

posted at 06:15am Jul 08 PST


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