Red Star Line

This article is about shipping line founded in 1871. For the Red Star Line founded in 1818 by Byrnes, Trimble & Co, see Robert Kermit Red Star Line.
Red Star Line
Joint venture
Industry Shipping, transportation
Successor Holland-America Line
Founded 1871 (1871)
Defunct 1935
Area served

The Red Star Line was an ocean passenger line founded in 1871 as a joint venture between the International Navigation Company of Philadelphia, which also ran the American Line, and the Société Anonyme de Navigation Belgo-Américaine of Antwerp, Belgium. The company's main ports of call were Antwerp[1] in Belgium, Liverpool and Southampton[1] in the United Kingdom and New York City[1] and Philadelphia in the United States. The company operated until 1935 when, due to the economic depression, it ceased trading. Its assets were eventually sold to the Holland-America Line.


The company was founded by Clement Griscom, who led it from its founding until the International Mercantile Marine Co. took it over in 1902. Red Star Line survived IMM's financial crisis in 1915. In the 1930s Red Star Line was part of Arnold Bernstein Line.[1]


Red Star Line museum at Antwerp

The former warehouses of the Red Star Line in Antwerp were designated as a landmark and reopened as a museum on 28 September 2013 by the City of Antwerp.[2] The main focus of the museum is the travel stories that could be retrieved through relatives of the some two million Red Star Line passengers.[3][4] In the exhibition the visitor follows the travelers' tracks from the travel agency in Warsaw until their arrival in New York. The museum exhibits works of art depicting the Red Star Line emigrants by the Antwerp artist Eugeen Van Mieghem (1875-1930), together with Red Star Line memorabilia from the collection of Robert Vervoort.[2][5]

About a quarter of the some two million Red Star Line migrants were Jews, largely from Eastern Europe until the exodus driven by the rise of Nazi Germany. Among them were many famous persons, including regular passenger Albert Einstein.[3][6] On learning of the Nazi confiscation of his possessions, Einstein chose not to return to Germany; his letter resigning from the Prussian Academy of Sciences, written on the line's stationery, is a part of the museum exhibit.[4] Other notable emigrants included the five-year-old Irving Berlin.[4]


Postcard from the Belgenland
Poster of the Belgenland by Henri Cassiers
Postcard from the Lapland

Red Star Line ships had a black funnel with a white band bearing a five-pointed red star.[1] The house flag was a white burgee with a red star.[1]

Some Red Star ships were given names ending in "-land". Notable Red Star ships included:

The Red Star Lines appear in the Mario Puzo's The Godfather Part II when the young Vito Corleone arrives in New-York. His identification badge is from the Red Star Lines company.

The Paris football club Red Star FC are named after the Red Star Line, on which the club's founder Jules Rimet's English housekeeper had travelled.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Harnack, 1938, page 566
  2. 1 2 "The Red Star Line Museum: History". Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "The Red Star Line Museum in a Nutshell". Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Museum tells of ships that took Jews to US". Retrieved April 15, 2014.
  5. "The Red Star Line Museum: Why Visit". Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  6. "The Red Star Line Museum: Stories Now and Then". Retrieved April 16, 2014.
  7. "Belgian Merchant H-O" (PDF). Belgische Koopvaardij. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  8. 1 2 "SS Regina". Retrieved April 15, 2014.


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