MV Wilhelm Gustloff

Discussion in 'The War at Sea' started by Gerard, Jul 27, 2006.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Member

    Just to mention for anyone interested in the subject, there is an English-language book about the Wilhelm Gustloff ; Christopher Dobson, John Miller & Ronald Payne's 'The Cruellest Night' ( Hodder & Stoughton, London 1979 ).

    ...although due to its age, it won't include the latest research on the subject.
     
  2. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Didn't the Wilhelm Gustloff have anti-aircraft guns on it during its last voyage? Plus, there were Kriegsmarine personnel on board and also possibly Nazi Party Leaders. Its a pity all those refugees were put onto an escape boat that was clearly a legitimate target.
    I think it was more of a case of getting everyone out and no-one having the time or caring whether people were getting on a target or not. Because of the Nazi Propaganda people were absolutely desperate to be evacuated. No-one wanted to be around to face the Russians, especially as those in positions knew exactly what had happened in Russia the previous 3-4 years and that they could expect no better. The main task in hand was get as many people onto as many ships as they could. It is a credit to the Kriegsmarine that they managed to get so many people to the West as they did.
     
  3. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

  4. The Wilhelm Gustloff, Goya & Steuben were amongst the worst losses with regards to passengers.

    Wilhelm Gustloff - Was torpedoed 30th January 1945 by Russian submarine S13 under the command of Capt. Alexander Marinesko, the ship sank within 45 minutes, and is believed that between 5,196 & 7,800 people lost their lives.

    Steuben - 11 days after the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the Steuben was attacked by two torpedoes in the same area by Capt. Marinesko's S13, and despite the efforts of nearby naval vessels, some 3,000 people lost their lives.

    Goya - On 16th April 1945, just before midnight, the Goya was torpedoed by the Russian submarine L3 under the command of Capt. Vladimir Konovalov. The ship was hit by two torpedoes, one amidships and the other on the stern, breaking the ship in half and sinking it within 4 minutes with a loss of life in the region of 6,817 people.
    This makes it the second worst maritime tradegy, with the Wilhelm Gustloff being the worst.


    Excellent info paul. It's curious how the Titanic gained infamy yet these far more tragic disasters are ignored. Wartime civilian casualties generally get short shrift except in the case of Hiroshima, Dresden, Holacaust etc.
    Because these ships were german there is a unfortunate lack of sympathy for the victims. And the Germans themselves don't make a big issue about these things, unlike say the japanese and others. This is beginning to change as more writers are exposing attrocities commited against german civilians like the rape of 2 million plus german women and girls during the Soviet conquest of East Prussia. Would make a very good book and movie.
    GM
     
  5. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  6. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  8. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    There's no denying it was a beautiful ship
     
  9. James S

    James S Very Senior Member

    One of Ley's "Strength Through Joy" ships designed to take German workers on holiday - if you could call it a holiday with "political education/ awareness" thrown in.
    Captain Marinesko sank her - she was a "legitmate" target but the loss of civilian life was terrible in the freezing waters they had little hope.
     
  10. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    WILHELM GUSTLOFF (January 30, 1945)

    THE GREATEST SEA TRAGEDY OF ALL TIME. The 25,484 ton German luxury cruise liner, launched in 1937, was built to carry 1,465 passengers and a crew of 400. The Gustloff and her sister ship Robert Ley, were the world's first purpose-built cruise ships. The ship, now converted to a 500 bed hospital ship, set sail from Gotenhafen (former Gdynia) in the Bay of Danzig en-route to the port of Stettin as part of the largest naval rescue operation in history (Operation Hannibal.) Overcrowded with 4,658 persons including 918 naval officers and men, 373 German Women Naval Auxiliaries, 162 wounded soldiers of whom 73 were stretcher cases, and 173 crew, all fleeing from the advancing Red Army, the ship plowed her way through the icy waters of the Baltic Sea. Just after 9pm the ship was hit by three torpedoes from the Russian submarine S-13 (a German designed boat) commanded by Alexander Marinesko. The first torpedo hit the bow of the ship, the second, below the empty swimming pool on E-deck where the Women Auxiliaries were accommodated (most were killed) and the third hit amidships. Indescribable panic reigned as the ship listed and sank in about ninety minutes near the Danish island of Bornholm. Many families committed suicide rather than drown in the freezing waters. Rescue boats picked from the stormy minus 18 degree Celsius seas 964 survivors, many of whom were landed at Sassnitz on the island of Ruegen and taken on board the Danish hospital ship Prince Olaf which was anchored in the harbour. The exact number of drowned will never be known, as many more refugees were picked up from small boats as the Wilhelm Gustloff headed for the open sea and were never counted. Around 4,000 of those who died were children. (Latest research puts the number of people on board at 10,582) Many of the 964 persons rescued from the sea, died later, and it is likely that well over 8,500 souls perished.
    [​IMG]
    The German luxury liner Wilhelm Gustloff as a KdF ship, pre-1939
     
  11. hoggene

    hoggene Member

    During investigation on SS-Brigadeführer Otto Bene, I found this piece of “funny” info.
    On April 10, 1938, the Wilhelm Gustloff (M.S. Wilhelm Gustloff - HISTORY - Cruise Ship) was used as a floating polling station for about 2,000 German residents in Britain. From Tilbury, they were ferried outside the three-mile limit and back again, in order to give them an opportunity to vote on the annexation of Austria.


    [​IMG]
     
    James S likes this.
  12. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

  13. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    Oh? Are you implying that if opening a new thread on the same subject people will repeat information and opinions aerated enough in the forum past?

    :lol:
    Not at all Za. Merely providing a source of further reading to our newer posters so they can see the info that has already been collected or researched and give them something to follow on from. :D
     
  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    [​IMG]

    :lol: Great Picture, 2nd in from the right looks a bit of all right :lol:
     
  15. cally

    cally Picture Prince.

    Has to be said Andy that I prefer her mate on the left [third frauline from the right!] - looks a bit more cerebral!!

    Anyway getting back to the subject of the thread - in my database I have these two pictures of the WG, which I hope will prove to be of interest to you all. The second picture shows her with the Cap Arcona...
     

    Attached Files:

  16. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

    Sadly, the only hope for people to get out was by sea, as I believe that area had been cutoff and surrounded. Sheer desperation made them grossly overload the ships with inevitable consequences.
     
  17. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

     
  18. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Not at all Za. Merely providing a source of further reading to our newer posters so they can see the info that has already been collected or researched and give them something to follow on from. :D

    Whew, I was afraid you were going to start a rant on tiresome repetitions :icon-mrgreenbandit:

    Is a fraulein line a frauline?
     
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Threads merged.
     
  20. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Has to be said Andy that I prefer her mate on the left [third frauline from the right!] - looks a bit more cerebral!!

    Anyway getting back to the subject of the thread - in my database I have these two pictures of the WG, which I hope will prove to be of interest to you all. The second picture shows her with the Cap Arcona...


    Cap Arcona is named after the North east tip of the Island of Rügen.

    Here are some photos from our family visit last Spring bank holiday.
    It was a great week but very windy!

    Regards
    Tom
     

    Attached Files:

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