“… Paul Arnott’s book shows that this trip from the Caribbean to Britain was by no means the only significant voyage it made. Originally known as the Monte Rosa, the German ship started life in Hamburg in 1931, and wasn’t rechristened until a year after being captured by the British as a war prize at Kiel in 1945. The designation of SS Empire Windrush was “optimistic as the British Empire referred to was shrinking by the month”.
Arnott paints a rich portrait of life on board the cruiser in its heyday, where passengers were fed pancakes with cranberry sauce and sardellenwurst – pork sausage meat to which anchovies had been added, (“to the British palate this might seem a surprise choice”). The ship took Germans, many of them Nazi-leaning, who decided to escape the Depression for a new life in South America, thereby helping create, in Argentina, one of the most fascist regimes outside Europe. In the 1930s, membership of the Nazi party was obligatory for merchant seamen, so on arrival in Buenos Aires men would raise their right arms in salute. It brought the German ambassador to Argentina in 1933 who disembarked wearing full SS uniform, announced that he came bearing personal salutations from Adolf Hitler, and led the waiting crowds in singing Deutschland über Alles. …”