The “Nieuw-Amsterdam”, passenger ship of the company “Holland-Amerika Lijn”, flying the Dutch flag, sails from New York August 25th, 1914 to join Rotterdam. Among the thousand passengers are several hundreds of Germans and Austrians who are travelling under the order of mobilization of their countries, or for business.
In the morning of September 2nd, 1914, the ship is boarded by the French auxiliary cruiser “Savoy”, in the West Casquets, in the Channel. She is diverted towards Brest and all men aged from 16 to 60 years who cannot prove a neutral or allied nationality are disembarked on September 3rd. At first the officers are directed towards the castle of Brest, the others are escorted towards the fort of Crozon. In Le Fret, during the transfer towards Crozon, a prisoner is shot down by a French officer.
The “Nieuw-Amsterdam” is authorized to leave for Rotterdam in September 6th, 1914. Her cargo, of cornstarch as well as bars of silver belonging to the national bank of Holland, was seized and will be the object of a long legal procedure.
In total, 948 men (682 Germans and 266 Austrian-Hungarians) are interned. A majority of them will spend 5 years, from November, 1914 till October, 1919, in the camp of Ile Longue. Among these passengers there are some who will make the prison camp of Ile Longue a cultural originality.
- Le “Nieuw-Amsterdam” par Jean-Pierre Kérinec (2014)
Four different accounts of the capture of the “Nieuw-Amsterdam” are known:
- the official report of the French navy;
- the narrative of Hermann von Boetticher, a German passenger, imprisoned on Ile Longue;
- the narrative of Edward Eyre Hunt, an American, who was able to leave on September 6th, 1914 with the ship;
- the narrative of Béla Barabas, a Hungarian deputy, who, because of his age, was also able to leave with the “Nieuw-Amsterdam”.
"German reservists held, taken from the Nieuw Amsterdam and made prisoners by France
PARIS- Sept 5 - A Brest dispatch to the Temps says that 400 Germans and 250 Austrians were found aboard the Holland-American liner Nieuw Amsterdam, which was detained by the French liner Savoie, now an armored ship in the Government service. The prisoners have been taken to Crozon, Finistere.
The steamer Nieuw Amsterdam sailed from New York on Aug. 25 for Boulogne and Rotterdam"