This museum and family-research center tells the story of European emigration to the United States and elsewhere. The complex on the peninsula here, completed in 1901, was built by the HAPAG shipping line for its passengers, which came from all across Europe to sail across the Atlantic.

When the immigrants landed in the United States, they were subjected to thorough physical examinations. Those who were deemed sick were quarantined for weeks or returned to their home country. To reduce the likelihood of trouble, HAPAG began examining passengers before they left Hamburg for new shores. During the first 34 years of the 20th century, about 1.7 million people passed through emigration halls. Processing this many people took a long time, and Hamburg officials did not want foreigners roaming the city. To accommodate visitors for several days or months, the shipping company built a town, complete with a hospital, church, music hall, housing, and hotels. The emigrant experience comes to life with artifacts; interactive displays; detailed reproductions of the buildings (all but one was demolished); and firsthand accounts of oppression in Europe, life in the "city," conditions during the 60-day ocean crossing, and life in their new home.

As compelling as the exhibits are, the main draw is the research booths, where you can search the complete passenger lists of all ships that left the harbor. Research assistants are available to help locate and track your ancestors. From St. Pauli, the museum can be reached by S-bahn or Maritime Circle Line at St. Pauli Landungsbrücken No. 10.


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