The making of a socialist port: The Czechoslovak port in Hamburg in the 1940s and 1950s

  1. Sarah Lemmen 1
  1. 1 Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    Madrid, España

    ROR 02p0gd045

International journal of maritime history

ISSN: 0843-8714

Year of publication: 2021

Volume: 33

Issue: 1

Pages: 145-161

Type: Article

DOI: 10.1177/0843871421991172 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor

More publications in: International journal of maritime history


Cited by

  • Scopus Cited by: 0 (01-12-2023)
  • Web of Science Cited by: 1 (12-10-2023)
  • Dimensions Cited by: 0 (18-04-2023)

SCImago Journal Rank

  • Year 2021
  • SJR Journal Impact: 0.116
  • Best Quartile: Q3
  • Area: History Quartile: Q3 Rank in area: 874/1591
  • Area: Transportation Quartile: Q4 Rank in area: 114/124


  • Social Sciences: B
  • Human Sciences: A

Scopus CiteScore

  • Year 2021
  • CiteScore of the Journal : 0.3
  • Area: History Percentile: 46
  • Area: Transportation Percentile: 3

Journal Citation Indicator (JCI)

  • Year 2021
  • Journal Citation Indicator (JCI): 0.79
  • Best Quartile: Q2
  • Area: HISTORY Quartile: Q2 Rank in area: 177/494


(Data updated as of 18-04-2023)
  • Total citations: 0
  • Recent citations: 0
  • Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 0.0


What makes a port socialist? While the question of how to turn states into socialist entities was pressing in all of Eastern Europe in the late 1940s, ports played a specific role in this process as they presented some characteristics that counteracted the new socialist regime, mainly the inherent openness and connectedness to foreign goods, people and information. This was especially so in the Czechoslovak port in Hamburg. A relict from the interwar period, this port zone was now located in the western bloc. This article traces the attempts to integrate the Czechoslovak port in Hamburg into the socialist system. These attempts were based on various aspects. Central was the ideological legitimation of using a Western port despite the option of transferring the transit of goods to Eastern German or Polish ports. Another focus was on the hiring of Communist workers, especially at a port outside the eastern bloc. And finally, due to its specific location, the port zone in Hamburg was treated both as a socialist outpost in the West – prone to foreign espionage, smuggling or defection – and as a socialist showcase to the West, representing socialist superiority over the capitalist system, and therefore needed both heightened security measures and special attention to its appearance. Neither of these aspects were promptly implemented. Rather, as is argued in this article, over the course of about a decade, an approximation to these new rules under very specific circumstances was met by both support and opposition from groups as different as local representatives of the port zone, both German and Czech port workers or the British occupation forces in Hamburg.

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