- Captain Albert's Website and Blog -

Ocean Liner History and Stories from the Sea, Past and Present. With an In Depth focus on Holland America Line

Reifferth; Max Adelbert Joseph.(Josef)

Then Officer Reifferth. (Center), for the company he sailed for before Holland America. We have not been able to find out yet which company.  (b)

Reifferth; Max Adelbert Joseph.(Josef)

Born: Hildesheim on 20 October 1888

Religion: Old Dutch Reformed

Captain Reifferth was born on 20 Oct. 1888 in Hildesheim Germany as son of Anna Rosette Martha Reifferth. We could not find any details about the father so maybe he was deceased. Sometime after  his birth young Josef came to the Netherlands and I believe he was part of a larger wave of Germans who came to (especially) Amsterdam and Rotterdam due to the upswing in the Dutch economy, especially in the ports. The later Captains Braun and Augspurg were also part of this “German invasion”.  On 10 June 1919 he was given Dutch Citizenship. If there had been a father around then the father could have applied anytime for the whole family. Now he had to wait until the year he turned 30.

For unknown reasons, maybe financially, he did not go directly to a Nautical School in one of the ports but went to sea as a sailor. The company records then give that the obtained his 3rd Mates license on 18 July 1907. His 2nd Mates license on 26 March 1913 and his 1st Mates license on 26 Sep. 1913. In this year he also obtained a license for Assistant Radio Officer on 9 April 1913. This was a certificate which was not so important for Holland America but much in demand on the cargo ships.  Holland America archives do not divulge where he sailed before he joined the company.   But he did join the Holland America Line as a 2nd officer on 12 June 1914.

Mr. & Mrs. Reifferth. Not long after their marriage. (b)

In between he had married on 29 Oct. 1913 Trijntje Maria Oudenbroek (Born on 18 December 1888 at Zierikzee in the province of Zeeland, who was a daughter of Pieter Oudenbroek and Bastiana Johanna van Dijk) there were two children. (a)

Max Adelbert Josef – born on   24 September 1914 at Rotterdam.

Truus Maria              – born on  03 August 1917 at Rotterdam.

His son Max married and there was a Grand Child Fenny van Diggele- Reifferth  who provided the family photos. Captain Reifferth had passed away before she was born but she was told that he was a very outgoing man with a great skill in handling people.

The first ship was the Oosterdijk, followed by the Soestdijk. On this ship he is already promoted to Acting Chief Officer, no doubt due to the fact that he had already 8 years sea experience before he joined the company. Plus a number of senior officers had been called up for Royal Navy Reserve duty due to the start of the First World War. This is also most likely the reason why he shows up so quickly on the passenger ships, sailing between 1916 and 1919 as Chief Officer on the flagship the ss Rotterdam. As was the company’s system, you went up the ranks from the oldest/smallest ship to the newest biggest ship and after promotion it started all over again. Not always for all ranks but it was normal procedure for Chief Officers and Captains. Thus he should have been promoted to Captain his time on the  ss Rotterdam.

The ss Soestdijk (II) built in 1900 as one of the first cargo only ships for the company. (c)

This does not happen due to the slump on the North Atlantic with the reduction in emigrant traffic and the surplus of tonnage. I assume that the company now kept him on the cargo ships so he could step in if there would be an open position available. This first opportunity arises in 1925 when he assumes command of the cargo ship ss Burgerdyk. One of a series of 10 B-class cargo ships which had joined the company as a war payment for the torpedoing of the SS Statendam (II) / Justicia.

The ss Volendam (I) of 1922. This photo was taken in 1939 when World War II was already in progress  but  the Netherlands was still neutral and not involved.  (c)

In 1926 there was a bit of excitement when in March 1926 the ss Volendam (Captain J.J. de Koning) spots a schooner wallowing in heavy seas. Upon investigation it becomes clear that the schooner is in near sinking state and cannot be controlled. (Later it is found out that the crew on board had been trying to survive on the stricken vessel for 17 days).

From a Dutch newspaper dated 08 March 1926. Chief Officer Reifferth can be seen at the rudder in the stern (d)

The Captain decides to lower a boat under the command of Chief Officer Reifferth which rows to the schooner “General Smuts”.

As the crew is too exhausted to jump in the sea, the lifeboat has to go alongside the moving hull and lift the crew off.

The captain and the five crew were saved. The schooner is set on fire so that it sinks and does not become a submerged danger to the shipping traffic. Chief Officer Reifferth later  receives the large silver medal from the Dutch Lifesaving Society.

Things remains complicated for the company and remains and he keeps alternating between Acting Captain and Chief Officer; which sees him in May 1927 as Chief Officer on the Nieuw Amsterdam. After this ship he serves on several of the B class ships as Captain and then in 1929 on the ss Meerkerk of the United Shipping Company (Vereenigde Nederlandsche Scheepvaart Maatschappij) which was a company founded in 1921 as a joint venture between several Dutch companies which included the HAL.

The ss Meerkerk of the VNS. This had never been a HAL ship but had been entered in to the VNS by another company.  Especially after WWII many Holland America Line cargo ships would sail in charter for the VNS. Captain sailed on this ship for a month, to fill in for the regular captain , Captain Jan Coerkamp which was also a HAL captain. on loan.

This as there was not a Dutch company which was specialized on the service between the Netherlands and South Africa. Later on they also had a service to the Far East as far as India and China. Holland America had provided ships for this company and also crew, who remained on the company’s books until 1930.

Capt. Reifferth and wife seen here at a beach outing around 1930 ? (b)

In 1930 he is assigned to the ss Boschdyk which sailed on the British India service which was a company route from New York to Singapore and Ceylon. This ship did not come to Holland and thus the crew sailed with one of the passenger ships to New York and then returned in the same way at the end of the contract which could last anytime between 9 months and a year. After such a long spell, there was normally a longer leave and then an assignment on the ships on shorter turns around services.  Captain Reifferth returns as Chief Officer on the ss Statendam and ss Veendam.

This is the end of his career with Holland America. The depression was now really biting and scores of Captains and Officers were made redundant.  There is no record of the why this also happened to Captain Reifferth. Or maybe he was not but took the opportunity to change his career.

The family photos indicate that he must have joined the Dutch Royal Navy. There are not company records which indicate that he was RNR during his time with the company but he could have been. So he made the switch in the same way Captain DeKup did. The photos taken close to his retirement give 2.5 stripes which indicate that he retired as Lieutenant 2nd Class Sr. which is a good ending for somebody who was not a Royal Navy Officer from the start.

I will try to find out more about his navy career in du course.

Capt. Reifferth seen here as Royal Navy officer. (b)

Captain Reifferth passed away on 21 April 1957 at Rotterdam at the age of 68. Last address: Mathenesserlaan 427b at Rotterdam

His wife survived him until 30 December 1981. Both were buried at the General Cemetery at Hook of Holland.







  • (a) Mr. E. A. Kruidhof
  • (b) Mrs. Fenny van Diggele (Grand Daughter)
  • (c) Authors Archive
  • (d) National Newspapers via Delpher


Sailing Listing from the HAL Archives:

Date:                    Function:                             Ship:                                      Wages and/or remarks.

12 Jun. 1914       2nd Officer                           Oosterdijk                           100,–

11 Nov. 1914      Act. Chief officer              Soestdijk                             Transferred in New York.

01 Dec. 1914       2nd Officer                           Oosterdijk                           100,–

18 Mar.1915       Act. Chief Officer                                                             140,–

08 Jun.  1915       Act. Chief Officer             Noordam                             140,–

20 Aug. 1915       2nd Officer                           Noordam                             130,–

07 Jun.  1916       2nd Officer                           Rotterdam                          130,-

Temporary placement

15 Oct. 1917        Chief Officer                      Rotterdam                          140,–

01 Feb.  1918       Wage increase                                                                      150,–

23 Jan. 1919       Chief Officer                      Rotterdam                          150,–

Payroll purposes only.

22 Jun. 1919       Chief Officer                      Eemdijk                             150,–

01 Jan. 1919        wage increase                                                                   280,–

01 Jan. 1920        Temporary ashore                                                           300,–

07 Jul. 1920         Temporary ashore                                                           300,–

12 Jul. 1920         Chief Officer                      Vechtdijk                             300,-

Via Harwich ferry to Sunderland to collect ship

01 Jan. 1920        Wage increase                                                                  320,-

Back dated to  01 Jan. 1920

15 Oct. 1920        Wage increase                                                                  340,-

16 Aug. 1920       Temporary                                                                          for 14 days

01 Sep. 1921       Chief Officer                      Vechtdijk                             340,-

01 Sep. 1921       Wage decrease                                                                 324,–

16 Oct. 1921        Wage decrease                                                                 308,–

16 Mar. 1922      Wage increase                                                                  315,–

18 Apr.  1922       Chief Officer                      Warszawa                       315,–

08 May 1922       Temporary ashore

14 Oct. 1922        Chief Officer                      Gaasterdijk                     320,–

15 Oct. 1922        Wage increase                                                                  320,–

31 Oct. 1922        Temporary ashore

07 Nov. 1922      Chief Officer                      Bilderdijk                             320,–

18 Nov. 1922      Chief Officer                      Gaasterdijk                         320,–

11 Jan. 1923        Chief Officer                      Spaarndam                         320,–

16 Dec. 1925       Act. Captain                        Burgerdijk                           560,–

29 Jan. 1926        Chief Officer                      Volendam                           320,–

01 Jul. 1926         Act. Captain                        Westerdijk                          560,–

01 Aug. 1926       Temporary shore                                                               320,–

26 Aug. 1926       Act. Captain                        Blijdendijk                           560,–

01 Dec. 1926       Act. Captain                        Boschdijk                             560,–

24 Apr. 1927       Chief officer                       Ashore                                 320,–

15 May. 1927      Chief officer                       Nieuw Amsterdam          330,–

19 ??? 1927         Chief officer                       Ashore                                 330,–

02 Jun.  1927       Act. Captain                        Bilderdijk                             560,–

09 Aug. 1927       Chief Officer                      Ashore                                 330,–

10 Nov. 1927      Act. Captain                       Beemsterdijk                     560,–

05 Apr. 1928       Act. Captain                        Blommersdijk                    560,–

15 Sep. 1928       Act. Captain                        Blijdendijk                           560,–

01 Jan. 1929        Act. Captain                        Blijdendijk                           560,–

01 Jan. 1929        Wage increase                                                                  580,–

20 Feb. 1929       Act. Captain                        Rijndam                               580,–

12 Mar. 1929      Captain                                 Ashore                                 580,–

11 Apr. 1929       Chief officer                       Ashore                                 335,–

14 Jun.1929         Act. Captain                        Meerkerk                            625,–

17 Jul 1929           Chief Officer                      Ashore                                 335,–

17 Sep. 1929       Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam          580,–

to New York as passenger to join the ship in New York as it was on the Dutch East Indies service.

02 Oct. 1929        Captain                                 Boschdijk                             580,–

09 Jul.1930          Captain                                 Nieuw Amsterdam          580,–

Returns home from New York as passenger after leaving the Boschdijk there.

22 Jul. 1930         Ashore                                                                                 580,–

15 Oct. 1930        Chief Officer                      Ashore                                 335,–

10 Apr. 1931       Chief Officer                      Statendam                          335,–

21 Apr. 1931       Chief Officer                      Veendam

End of Company service.

1 Comment

  1. Fenny van Diggele-Reifferth

    February 7, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I am his granddaughter and I do have plenty of photo’ s of him! I could send you some if you need them for this blog. Please, contact me about this. I would be very interested in copies of documents from the Holland Amerika Lijn concerning him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.