In 1948, the member companies of the Hamburg Shipbrokers’ Association had every reason to celebrate. It was a special year for shipping, which had been lying idle since the end of the war – at last, the 110 shipbrokers left in Hamburg had a chance to do foreign business again. Gradually, more and more lines were resuming their operations to Hamburg. The general ban on new commissioning for vessels of all kinds was lifted in summer 1948. Permission was given to recover sunken ships up to 1500grt and to repair them. And finally, from the end of 1948, the Potsdam Treaty permitted newbuildings up to 1500grt.
What was more natural than to celebrate the arrival of the upswing with a business dinner? Bruno Jansen, Managing Director of the Hamburg Shipbrokers’ Association since 1945, invited the Managing Directors of member companies to a dinner on 11 November 1948 – expensive for the conditions at the time, but it was a good meal. And the venue had an unsurpassable maritime touch – it was the M.S. “St. Louis”, moored at the Altona landing stage. The ship had been given a makeshift repair after serious bomb damage, and was now serving as a hotel and restaurant.
The evening was a complete success. It brought together 110 shipbrokers, tucking into the tasty North German starter (cream of poultry soup), followed by grilled pollack steaks, and schnitzel with local Vierländer vegetables. After that successful evening, they all agreed that the meal should become a regular event.
In fact, it was a little earlier the next year, with Executive Director Bruno Jansen issuing the invitations for 29 October 1949; this time it was held in the Ratsweinkeller, and for the first time Eisbein (or alternatively Kassler) was served, with Sauerkraut, pease pudding, potatoes and bacon. This traditional tasty North German dish was chosen because by now the shortages were over and Nouvelle Cuisine was as yet unknown. That was how the world famous “Eisbeinessen” started; at the time no-one even dreamt of how the event would grow.
Bruno Jansen was the inventor and founding father of the Eisbeinessen, which is known throughout the world today. Bruno Jansen died in Hamburg Wellingsbüttel on 25 April 2005.