The German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) is a leading industry association within the German business community. Founded in 1907 by regional associations of shipping companies to allow their interests to be represented in a common and uniform manner, the Hamburg-based VDR now represents German maritime shipping companies not only in Berlin, Bonn and Brussels, but also at the global level via its memberships in various international organisations, such as in London and Geneva.

Germany’s merchant fleet now consists of just over 1,400 ships, of which more than 900 are still operating under German flag.

An international shipping register known as the GIS is established in the Federal Republic of Germany (i.e. West Germany) to safeguard the competitiveness of ships operating under German flag.

Initial test voyages are made with “18-man-vessels” and “integrated crews” on “ships of the future”. Germany’s merchant fleet comprises 1,900 vessels, of which over 1,500 are operating under German flag.

Shipping companies in the VDR jointly found the “Ausbildungsgemeinschaft für die deutsche Seeschifffahrt”, a vocation training community for Germany’s maritime shipping sector.

Establishment of the VDR’s collective labour community.

Owing to the difficult competitive situation on international markets, German shipping companies start to register more and more of their vessels in non-German registers and to operate them under foreign flags.

The VDR becomes a founding member of the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA), which was initially known as the Comité des Associations d’Armateurs des Communautés Européenes (CAACE). Originally headquartered in Paris, the association relocated to Brussels – the “capital of Europe” – in 1973.

The VDR celebrates its 50th anniversary. The association’s magazine – known then as “Kehrwieder” but now as “Deutsche Seeschifffahrt” – is published for the first time.

The VDR becomes a founding member of the Verein zur Förderung des seemännischen Nachwuches, an association to promote the seafarers of tomorrow, which is now the Bremen-based centre for careers in maritime shipping called the Berufsbildungsstelle Seeschifffahrt (BBS).

The VRD renews its memberships in the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Shipping Federation (ISF).

The VDR returns to the international stage after renewing its membership in the Baltic and International Maritime Conference (BIMCO, today Baltic and International Maritime Council).

The VDR becomes a member of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA).

Immediately after the end of the Second World War, the VDR is re-established as a registered association under private law and a democratic constitution to represent the economic and socio-political interests of German shipping companies.

As part of the National Socialists’ process of centralising economic structures, the VDR is dissolved and merged with the “Fachgruppe Reeder” (specialist group of shipowners) of the Reichsverkehrsgruppe Seeschifffahrt (RVGS).

The ZDR becomes the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR). At the same time, the VDR re-assumes the functions of the “Wirtschaftsausschuss der Deutschen Reedereien”, an economic commission of German shipping companies.

The “War Commission” is renamed the “Economic Commission”.

The first collective pay agreement is concluded between the ZDR and the employee representatives of seafarers.

The ZDR plays a role in the founding of the “Kriegsausschuss der Deutschen Reedereien” (War Commission of German Shipping Companies). The commission takes over responsibility for representing the interests of shipping companies in terms of economic policies and primarily deals with compensation proceedings resulting from the war. The ZDR, on the other hand, retains responsibility for socio-political matters.

The ZDR becomes a founding member of the International Shipping Federation (ISF).

The association is founded in Berlin on 6 February 1907 as the “Zentralverein Deutscher Rheder e.V” (ZDR), a central association of German shipowners founded to unite what had been associations at the regional level.