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Author Topic: Wilhelm Gustloff: the history and sinking of ...  (Read 3791 times)
Koen
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« on: 11 November 2009, 13:29:45 »
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http://www.wilhelmgustloff.com/index.htm



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On a bitter cold night in late January 1945 on the seas of the Baltic, the  deadliest maritime disaster  in history occurred.  Yet far too many have never heard about the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

Unbelievably, the loss of life was equal to more than six sinkings of the Titanic.  It is arguably the greatest unknown single disaster in modern history.  Furthermore, the true story surrounding the Gustloff is not only tragic but absolutely incredible – filled with a wide spectrum of human drama – during one of the most terrifying periods in history: World War II.

This non-political website is dedicated to the historical research and education regarding this tragic event.  My goal is make this the most definitive, accurate, and organized web resource available on the Wilhelm Gustloff.  Please consider it “continual work-in-progress”, with an emphasis on on-going additions and improvement.

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Heinrich505
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« Reply #1 on: 11 November 2009, 21:59:09 »
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Koen,
  This is easily one of the most horrific disasters I've ever studied.  It never got the coverage it should have, simply because the victims were Germans, fleeing the Soviets.  There were several other ships packed with refugees and wounded soldiers that were also sunk around that same time, with losses in the 3,000 to 5,000 range.  The Wilhelm Gustloff was the worst ever, in history.  The official losses range around 6,000 to 9,000, but unofficially, it has been shown that the true losses were probably in excess of 10,000.  I know those numbers are amazing, but I am inclined to lean towards the highest tally, simply because the ship was dangerously overcrowded by desperate people trying to escape the Red Bear.

  There was a documentary program done on this terrible event, and it was extremely well done.  I cannot remember the name of it, but it was on the history channel or discovery channel.  They put together a computer model to determine approximately how many people actually could have been killed in the disaster, due to the conflicting reports between the Allies (citing lower figures) and German survivors and eyewitnesses (citing higher casualty figures).  The computer model showed that easily there could have been more than 10,000, and probably it was closer to 11,000 who perished.

  I would also direct you to a book by Gunter Grass, entitled Crabwalk.  He weaves a novel about a survivor from the Wilhelm Gustloff, and postwar effects relating to the sinking.  It is an extremely interesting book, and the parts about the sinking are, from what I can tell, historically accurate as well. 

  There are many accounts of the sinking at various internet sites, and Feldgrau.com also has an excellent history of the Wilhelm Gustloff under their Kriegsmarine section, entitled “The History of the Wilhelm Gustloff,” by Jason Pipes.  It doesn’t go into as much detail on the actual horrors of survivors rushing around below decks of the doomed ship as it took on water from the torpedoes, but it gives a lot of good insight, as well as some very nice photos.

  I find it interesting that you would cover this topic.  Not many people know of it, as there seems to be some reluctance of the postwar “allies” to even acknowledge it happened.  The Soviets dove to the wreck and cannibalized it after the war.  They were also curiously reluctant to decorate and reward the submarine commander who punched the torpedoes into the liner’s side.  The Soviets seemed oddly squeamish to let the incident become public knowledge. 

  As we all know, horrible things happen during wartime, but this really was up there in the lists of horror.  Thanks for bringing this to the forum.

                                 Heinrich505
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Koen
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« Reply #2 on: 12 November 2009, 19:06:16 »
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There was a documentary program done on this terrible event, and it was extremely well done.  I cannot remember the name of it, but it was on the history channel or discovery channel.



yes, I also saw it...horrible

true, when bad things happened to Germans in the war the story seems to be less 'horrific' or/and less important.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crabwalk

buy the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crabwalk-Gunter-Grass/dp/0156029707/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1258045498&sr=8-1

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Thanks for bringing this to the forum.


no problem, that's why WaT is here!
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