3 of 4) Hamburg, Germany

The third leg of the trip was to Hamburg, Germany, which is 305 miles from Prague.

Country Manufacturing Value-Added (% of GDP): 23% (World Bank) 

Hamburg has often been considered the most international of all German cities.  It has a notable history in trade dating back to the Middle Ages and is credited with helping to bring the Germanic region out of the Middle Ages because of its access to both import and export markets.  The city took the initiative in 1410 to draft a city constitution, known as “the first Rezeß”, which included dispute resolution policy and gave power of due process to citizens, a revolutionary civil liberty for the era.

Hamburg has a rich history in supply chain management.  The Hamburg-America shipping line was a company that was the world’s largest trans-Atlantic supply chain organization in the beginning of the twentieth century, known for its efficiency in operations.  Like Prague, Hamburg has been central to much political historical change and chaos.  For example, the 1923 Hamburg Uprising was a post-war plot to seize control of the city by Leon Trotsky-inspired local communists several years after the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the German defeat in WWI, when hyperinflation and economic chaos were rampant.  Famous blockades of German ports such as the port of Hamburg have been integral to wartime strategies to prevent vital goods from getting into the country.

Students in front of a container vessel at the Port of Hamburg

Today, the city is multicultural and has the highest percentage of international residents in Germany at 14% (LabourEconomics, 2015).  Hamburg is known as the global economic trading center of the North Sea and Baltic Sea regions and the regional hub of international trade (Hamburg Business Development Corporation, 2016), and is home to 40,000 official millionaires.  While Munich’s residents comprise a traditional 70% Catholic to 30% Protestant demographic, Hamburg’s residents comprise the opposite percentage (not counting recent immigrants).

1) Multinational Automobile and Supply Chain Tours:

The Port of Hamburg is the second-largest port in Europe, 106 kilometers from the open sea.  The city is named the “Gateway to the World” by German citizens because of the vast trade volume facilitated by the port, including more than 9.73 million TEUs which pass through it annually.  The city has 2,500 bridges (second only to New York), and many connect portions of the Port to the City.  The port has a rich history, beginning from May 1189, when Kaiser Friedrich Barbarossa decreed that the Port be a customs-free zone for all merchants.  Smuggling products into East Germany through the port is credited as one of the reasons for the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the port saw a spike in business after the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Iron Curtain.  In 2015, the Port paired 45.8% of its services with rail (1,300 freight trains per week), 12.2% with inland water vessels, and 42% with trucking transportation of total hinterland traffic (Hamburg Port Authority, 2016).  Today, the Port’s main trading partners include China, Russia, Brazil, the US, and Norway.  Imports and exports are managed through a dense network of 120 liner services spanning the globe (Hamburg Port Authority, 2018).  The harbor’s birthday, which is observed during the first week of May in a festival called Hafengeburtstag, is one of the most celebrated cultural events of the year.

We learned that the container terminal area of the port can handle 20,000-foot cargo containers, which is the largest type of container possible.  We saw the 3 million-TEU capacity Altenwerder Terminal, one of the most modern container terminals in the world.  Governmental action as it pertains to the development of the port was also a focus, as the relevancy of the port has increased and decreased over the centuries based on political decisions of the German government.

We took a tour of the Port of Hamburg by boat, which provided us enough speed to cover the massive port and its four modern container terminals.  We were fortunate to be able to see export cargo containers being loaded onto transport vessels and import cargo loaded onto trains.  Dynamic supply chain capabilities allow the port to transport 138.2 million tons of goods per year.



During our various excursions in Hamburg, we had yet another opportunity to learn about the logistics of the German U-Bahn subway system.  Several students (Abbie, Mike, and Bill) took the initiative in helping our group on and off the various lines so that we could more efficiently find our destinations.  Hamburg’s system seemed a bit more technologically advanced than Munich’s, with screens inside the trains showing soccer scores and GPS-like maps of upcoming stops (as seen in the picture below in the upper right).



2) Cultural Excursions and Immersions:

As in many European countries, cultural and societal values in Germany vary from region to region.  In fact, cultural characteristics should not be assumed to be the same in different regions of the same country.  For instance, the food of Northern Germany is different than the food of Southern Germany.  In Hamburg, carp is a favorite for Christmas and New Year’s meals.  Other popular item include lobster soup, currywurst, savoy cabbage and duck and/or goose-related dishes.  There is more of an emphasis on global spices and seasonings in Hamburg’s cuisine.  Many of the students commented that Hamburg’s food was much different than Munich’s, which seemed more stereotypically German.  In order to sample a variety of foods from different cultures, one night we had a group dinner at a locally-owned (there are very few chain restaurants in Europe) Italian restaurant (below).



The Harvestehude quarter, a historic area that does not allow buildings to rise above the level of the trees, is near Außenalster Lake, alongside a series of buildings first constructed by the German elite of the 19th century.  This area has recently experienced a green renaissance.  The picture below below shows the Green Ring, which is a sustainable initiative that connects via hiking/jogging paths the majority of the city’s parks, gardens, recreational areas, and other destinations via hiking/jogging paths (Mishkov, 2016).  The goal is to make this area completely car-free by 2034 and to further promote public transportation.



Hamburg was one of the first cities in the world to establish diplomatic relations with the U.S. shortly after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  On July 1, 1790, the U.S. Consulate in Hamburg opened as the 11th U.S. Consulate in the world; it is also located in the Harvestehude quarter.  The Port of Hamburg, which was the busiest port in the world at the time, allowed many Germans to leave for the New World from Hamburg even before the Revolutionary War. The first German to immigrate to North America via the Port of Hamburg was documented in 1625 (U.S. Consulate General Hamburg).  Subsequently, the port played a key role in establishing Hamburg as one of the first eleven cities to have a U.S. Consulate.  Hamburg hosts more than 100 consulates, the third largest number in any city (behind Hong Kong and New York City).  This Consulate is a great example of the 19th century upper-class Hanseatic architecture and was long ago dubbed the “Little White House on the Alster,” as it resembles the White House in Washington, D.C.  It served as Northern Germany’s Nazi party headquarters during World War II.

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Purdue University students in front of the US Conulate in Munich, aka “The Little White House on the Alster”

Like the Consulate in Munich, the Consulate of Hamburg also has an accomplished Consul General, who acts as a safe haven and advisor for U.S. citizens abroad.  Consul General Rick Yoneoka, who greeted us at the door, worked in Gambia, Venezuela, and Berlin as Assistant to the Ambassador (former Indiana Senator Dan Coats).  Most notably, Yoneoka was responsible for the expansion of U.S. exports to Venezuela and the continuation of oil sales between the U.S. and Venezuela amid faltering bilateral relations in 2009 through his implementation of Title III of the Libertad Act of Venezuela.  We were lucky to have this adventure coordinated by Dr. Susanne Wiedemann, Cultural Affairs Assistant/Kulturreferentin, who was nice enough to answer my emails and take care of the planning during evening hours in Indiana time, which meant that she was helping me from Hamburg late at night.



3) History of Capitalism/Trade:

HafenCity Universitat has taken the lead in the urban planning of Hamburg, and we had the opportunity to take a walking tour of the city, including its exclusive Old Town shopping, called Mönckebergstrasse.  The world’s largest electronic store, Saturn, and Europe’s biggest sports store, Karstadt, are located there, among other elite stores.  The astute planning of the city center has resulted in great economic strength for the city.

One of our tour guides explaining the layout of Hamburg’s city center


Rising above the historic city center is a key landmark that facilitates navigation through this area, the 279 meter-high TV Tower.  Many of the fashion-conscious students enjoyed walking through the exclusive Jungfernstieg urban promenade, a 600 meter-long exclusive shopping street (below, with the Four Seasons hotel with its green roof in the background and the TV Tower to its right (in the photo below, left).



The historic city center includes the Hamburg Stock Exchange,  the building attached to the Town Hall (which the Chamber of Commerce now partially inhabits), home to the Senate and Parliament.  Founded in 1558 because of the progressive international trade in the city, it is the oldest stock exchange in Germany and the second-oldest in Europe behind London’s exchange.   Most of Hamburg’s city center buildings were destroyed by Allied air raids during World War II, but this building was lucky to have only minor damage.  Attached to the City Hall is the Stock Exchange Building, where the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce resides.  The building also houses the second oldest stock exchange in the world, which began in 1558 and is younger only than London’s.

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Students in front of the Hamburg City Hall (Rathaus)



The Port contributes to the profits of 7,300 organizations in the Hamburg city limits, many within Speicherstadt, or Hafen City, which is a newly gentrified area that is also the world’s largest official warehouse district.  It has recently been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a designation of a location deemed to be of special significance, as the site has been called “a unique symbol of the rapid international growth of trade in the late 19th and early 20th century” (Deutsche Welle, 2016).  Speicherstadt was the first section to be zoned as office-only  in Europe (Deutsche Welle, 2015).  Nearby is the Speicherstadtmuseum, which is dedicated to showing the history of the coffee trade and other notable industries.  We hopped off the harbor tour boat at Hafen City.

This allowed for some free time before the next harbor boat arrival.  Several students visited the nearby Maritimes Museum.  You can see one of the original loading dock container cranes (above and to the left of the third umbrella), which was utilized to lift goods from the vessels below when it was originally built (see picture in the top right, below).



During their free time in Hafen City, other students ran into an organization that has some similarities with Purdue University.



Several others visited the campus of HafenCity Universitat, also known as the University of The Built Environment And Metropolitan Development, a public university specializing in urban planning and civil engineering.  Recent expansions due to their strong enrollment mean that they are embarking on construction of local housing for students (below, left).



During the trip our Chinese student (Rubin) spent time researching local Chinese restaurants.  Many of his friends were curious about the authenticity of the food, and he had a different, nuanced response for each of the Chinese restaurants that they visited.  Rubin could always be counted on to determine whether the food was “authentic or not authentic”, and the answer to this question during a Chinese restaurant lunch stop during free time in Hafen City was “authentic”.  The picture below shows us in HafenCity after the free time, waiting on the harbor boat to pick us up.

Waiting on the harbor boat at Hafen City


In another prominent region of Hamburg, the Reeperbahn area of the St. Pauli district, the group went on a Beatles tour, which included visits to the clubs where the Beatles first toured and sharpened their musical skills and synergies from 1960-1962 before they became famous back home in Liverpool, England and soon thereafter worldwide.  Students found out why, after the city was bombed to rubble at the end of World War II, the Hamburg live music scene quickly became alluring:  it was receptive to international artists, and influenced the Beatles’ style of music due to the port’s imports of global music.  During this time, the locals had grown accustomed to American rock and roll because of access to imported records that they could buy locally via the Port of Hamburg.  They enjoyed and appreciated 1950s-style rock and roll artists such as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard were willing to pay to see the similarly-styled Beatles in their local clubs.  The Beatles and the music-lovers of Hamburg were truly ahead of their time in the early 1960s.  The venues in which the Beatles played live are located on the Reeperbahn, the infamous street in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg.  Included below are photos of the Kaiserkeller, the oldest Hamburg live rock and roll venue where they first played (top left), and a small apartment complex (lower left) where they stayed during their first nights in Hamburg.



After the Beatles tour, we were treated to a private concert of Beatles cover songs (below).



The Beatles tour provided everyone an opportunity to walk through the Hamburg Reeperbahn (see photos below), which many consider to be the continent’s version of the Vegas strip.  This area stood in stark contrast to Hamburg’s city center and reflects a varied aspect of German culture.



Students use nights for any sort of additional experience and these are often the most rewarding and memorable times during these trips.  As usual, student-initiated exploration during free-time often became a favorite component of the visit.

In the spirit of both the historic and modern Hamburg music scene, several went to a concert featuring a prominent Spanish reggae artist at the Knust music venue, a popular nightspot featuring indie bands and rock bands, which concluded at a local establishment filled with Victorian-era couches for the patrons.



A group of students took a trip to the St. Nicholas’schurch (Nikolaikirche) steeple.  This church was one of the five original Protestant churches in the city and was the tallest building int the world from 1874 to 1876.  It was one of the rare buildings that survived the allied air raids of 1943, although it did receive severe damage from the massive fire that engulfed the city as a result of the aerial raids.  The students climbed to the top of the tower.  Below are pictures of students in front of the church (left) and a view of the city from the 75-meter high steeple (right).



Another group of students visited the Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway exhibition, which includes a slcale-model of a coal-fired powerplant (below, left).  Many students indicated that this should be added to the official group itinerary next year.



A quest to seek a laundromat (Terri) involved a rare find of a combination laundromat-discotheque.



As noted, Study Abroad’s are designed to create lifelong memories and enduring moments, most of which are student-initiated and not part of the official curriculum.  One student took the opportunity have the Astra (popular local beer brewed in Hamburg) logo tattooed on the back of his leg.  Since he is a US military veteran, Astra’s iconic heart/anchor logo especially resonated for him, because Hamburg’s Reeperbahn grew in prominence when members of the US Navy would go there while stationed in Hamburg to let loose.



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On to Rotterdam…