Introducing a topic about wartime maritime disaster, invariably leads one to broach the topic of the illfated wilhelm gustloff, termed as the deadliest maritime disaster in the maritime history a construction that was envisioned as the ultimate cruise vessel, turned into a hospital ship before finally being transformed into a navy personnel carrier, mv wilhelm gustloff was a german ship. The following is from my book, hellstormthe death of nazi germany, 19441947 for millions of germans cut off on the baltic. By one estimate 9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single. Yet there are signs of careless editing, and also an odd omission that gave me some reservations about the book. The wilhelm gustloff, like the titanic, was a big passenger liner and was reasonably new and luxurious. Wilhelm gustloff 30 january 1895 4 february 1936 was the founder of the swiss nsdapao the nazi party organisation for german citizens abroad at davos. This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the axis nations and related topics hosted by the axis history factbook in cooperation with christian ankerstjernes panzerworld and christoph awenders ww2 day by day. By one estimate 9,400 people died, which makes it the largest loss of life in a single ship sinking in history. I first came across gustloff in the antony beevor book, berlin where it was mentioned in passing, and it was added that it was the worst maritime disaster ever. Gustloff came from schwerin in mecklenburg but had relocated to switzerland, where he was a bank officer, as well as a swiss government meteorologist.
Real history and the wilhelm gustloff david irving. The sinking of the wilhelm gustloff national vanguard. Operation hannibal was the naval evacuation of german troops and civilians from courland, east prussia, and danzigwest prussia as the red army advanced. Bundesarchiv b 145 bildp094443, stettin, wilhelm gustloff als. Download it once and read it on your kindle device, pc, phones or. The littleknown stories of the wilhelm gustloff, the general steuben and the goya by john ries for many people, the image of a great maritime disaster calls to mind the wellknown sinking of the titanic, which went down in april 1912 after striking an iceberg, taking the lives of 1,503 men, women and. The most prolific german author and historian on the subject of wilhelm gustloff is heinz schon, one of the. Combines historical elements, such as the sinking of the wilhelm gustloff, with fictional elements, such as the book s major characters and events. Wilhelm gustloff encyclopedia titanica message board. Survivors of the wilhelm gustloff disaster recall what it was like after their ship is struck by three soviet torpedoes. The figures from the research of heinz schon make the total loss in the sinking to be 9,343 total, including about 5,000 children.
He then shot gustloff five times and killed him in his own home. Sources were four survivors, though whether he interviewed them personally, is uncertain. Mv wilhelm gustloff the mv wilhelm gustloff in port at oslo, norway, c. As adolf hitler watches wilhelm gustloffs widow, hedwig gustloff, breaks a bottle of champagne on the bow christening the ship at the launch ceremony. The wilhelm gustloff had been attacked by soviet submarine s commanded by alexander marinesko. They would crowd into her belly and she would give birth to their freedom. Unfortunately, it is written in the style of a magazine piece.
In its initial days, the ship was used as a luxury cruise liner for the german workers of hitlers third reich, and, until the outbreak. Sinking of mv wilhelm gustloff the deadliest maritime. Wilhelm gustloff wreck diving in pomorskie, poland. The wilhelm gustloff was attacked by a russian submarine on 30 january 1945 just 9 hours after putting to sea. Codenamed hannibal, the wilhelm gustloffs sailing was part of a larger operation to evacuate german refugees from gdynia to germany itself in the face of the approaching soviet offensive. Princes death in the baltic is an account of the worst maritime disaster in history, the sinking of the wilhelm gustloff in january 1945. On january 30, 1945 a russian submarine operating in the baltic sank the liner wilhelm gustloff named for the national socialist partys official representative in switzerland, assassinated by a jewish terrorist before ww2 listen to cbc canada 11minute interview. Quotes tagged as wilhelmgustloff showing 11 of 1 the wilhelm gustloff was pregnant with lost souls conceived of war. It was published in 1979, so im sure it is long out of print. Mv wilhelm gustloff torpedoed by a soviet submarine. The littleknown stories of the wilhelm gustloff, the general steuben and the goya. Its one of the millions of unique, usergenerated 3d experiences created on roblox. The mv wilhelm gustloff now lies off the northern coast of poland, 450 metres at the bottom of the baltic sea. Wilhelm gustloff, german ocean liner that was sunk by a soviet submarine on january 30, 1945.
The wilhelm gustloff was the most lethal shipwreck in history, but some details of the sinking remain unknown. On its final voyage, germanys wilhelm gustloff carried soldiers and thousands of civilians, many of them children. Countless books, tv documentaries and even hollywood films have kept the memory of that fateful night alive for more than 100 years. Gustloff showed him into the study of wilhelm and asked him to wait until wilhelm was finished telephoning in another room. The story of the wilhelm gustloffs sinking in the freezing waters of the baltic is dramatic and it has rarely been satisfactorily told in the english language. When wilhelm entered the study, frankfurter told gustloff that he was a jew. Mv wilhelm gustloff german refugee ship sunk in 1945.
Novel containing lengthy sequences set on the gustloff. On 30 th january 1945 the liner ms wilhelm gustloff was making her way from gotenhafen packed with thousands of nazi officials, refugees and armed forces personnel fleeing the soviet juggernaut sweeping into the reich. When she was sunk on january 30th, 1945, 9,343 men, women, and children slid under the waves of the icy baltic sea when the soviet submarine s fired three torpedoes into her port side sinking her in just over an hour. Three torpedoes hit her on the port side and resulted in the overloaded wilhelm gustloff taking less than an hour to sink with no time for the thousands of passengers below decks to leave. But you might be able to turn up a used copy at a used book site. Wilhelm gustloff the greatest maritime disaster in history. The true death toll is unlikely to ever be known but what is certain is that the sinking of the german ship wilhelm gustloff was the worst maritime disaster in history.
When she was sunk on january 30th, 1945, 9,343 men, women, and children slid under the waves of the icy baltic sea when the soviet submarine s fired three torpedoes into her port side sinking her in. See more ideas about shipwreck, baltic sea and history. Sepetys new book, salt to the sea, also draws on a family history from that era. The mv wilhelm gustloff was a german kdf flagship, during 19371945, constructed by the blohm and voss shipyards. Biography gustloff came from schwerin in mecklenburg but had relocated to switzerland, where he was a bank officer, as well as a swiss government meteorologist. Feb 18, 2016 the sinking of wilhelm gustloff has been considered as the biggest maritime catastrophe of all time even surpassing the combined calamities of titanic which sank taking more than 1,500 people with it after hitting an iceberg and lusitania which sank with 1,119 people after getting hit by a german torpedo.
The deadliest shipwreck in history on january 30, 1945, some 9,000 people perished aboard this german ocean liner after it was torpedoed by a soviet submarine and sank in the frigid waters of the baltic sea. But the circumstances of the disaster have attracted growing interest and this book by edward petruskevich is a case in point. Bundesarchiv b 145 bildp094443, stettin, wilhelm gustloff als lazarettschiff. Above her amongst the ice, snow and sleet are shadows and the now. Polar shift, puttnam, new york, 2005, isbn 9780399152719. The colossal ship measured 25,000 tons in weight and almost 700 feet in length with a carrying capacity of 2,000 people. The ship had been in harbour for five years serving various functions but now the time had come to leave. Mv wilhelm gustloff was a german armed military transport ship which was sunk on 30 january 1945 by soviet submarine s in the baltic sea while evacuating german civilians, german officials, refugees from prussia, lithuania, latvia, poland, estonia and croatia and military personnel from gotenhafen gdynia as the red army advanced. Model shipwrights ms wilhelm gustloff by peter fulgoney. On january 30, 1945 a russian submarine operating in the baltic sank the liner wilhelm gustloff named for the national socialist partys official representative in switzerland, assassinated by a jewish terrorist before ww2. Wilhelm gustloff january 30, 1895 february 4, 1936 was the german leader of the nsdap national socialist party in switzerland. In 1936, david frankfurter visited the home of wilhelm gustloff, where mrs.
The following is from my book, hellstormthe death of nazi germany, 1944. Sinking of mv wilhelm gustloff the deadliest maritime disaster. Novelist ruta sepetys cant say for sure, but its obscurity made it exactly the kind of story she wanted to tell. Wilhelm gustloff passenger ship 19371945, wreck, wreck database. It sank after being hit by three torpedoes fired by the soviet submarine s on 30 january 1945 with the loss of life thought to be over 9,000 the greatest loss of life in a maritime disaster in history. Sep 16, 2000 there is a book in english about the wilhelm gustloff. Pronunciation of wilhelm gustloff with 1 audio pronunciation, 1 meaning, 2 translations and more for wilhelm gustloff. The wilhelm gustloff holds the infamous record for the worst loss of life in maritime history.
It was a luxury ship but not designed as a playground for the rich, instead, it was to be used to provide cheap, heavily government subsidized vacations to the workers of adolf hitlers third reich. He remained its leader from 1932 until he was assassinated in 1936. Mv wilhelm gustloff wikipedia, a enciclopedia livre. Wilhelm gustloff january 30, 1895 february 4, 1936 was the german leader of the nsdap national socialist party in switzerland biography. The most prolific german author and historian on the subject of wilhelm gustloff is heinz schon, one of the shipwrecks survivors, whose books in german include. Mar 31, 2019 the littleknown stories of the wilhelm gustloff, the general steuben and the goya by john ries for many people, the image of a great maritime disaster calls to mind the wellknown sinking of the titanic, which went down in april 1912 after striking an iceberg, taking the lives of 1,503 men, women and. This slim volume was the first english language book about the sinking of the wilhelm gustloff. It was packed with nearly 8,000 germans, most of them women and children escaping from the advancing soviet army. We have all heard the sad story of the sinking of titanic in april, 1912 a tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 1,500 people. It was sunk in the baltic sea on the night of january 30, 1945, by a soviet submarine. Everything is frozen, making it even more difficult for people to get into lifeboats.
The story of the mv wilhelm gustloff kindle edition by roger moorhouse. The wilhelm gustloff interested sepetys as a story about refugees because her own lithuanian father spent nine years in refugee camps before being settled in the u. The ship is named after the former head of the swiss nazi party who was assassinated by david frankfurter on feb. Fifty six years ago today, the largest maritime disaster ever took place. Wilhelm gustloff was named after the assasinated leader of the swiss nazi party. For many people, the image of a great maritime disaster calls to mind the wellknown sinking of the titanic, which went down in april 1912 after striking an iceberg, taking the lives of 1,503 men, women and children. The sinking remains the worst maritime disaster in history but the titanic and other muchpublicised losses tend to shield the wilhelm gustloff from greater scrutiny. Ruta sepetys on salt to the sea, sinking of the wilhelm gustloff. The sinking of mv wilhelm gustloff by the soviet submarine s resulted in the greatest maritime disaster in history with the largest loss of life at sea. At 55 degrees 07 minutes north, 17 degrees 41 minutes east lies the broken and dead body of a once proud and majestic ship. Learn more about the sinking of the wilhelm gustloff in this article.
This gripping kindle single will explore the history of the german ship that suffered the deadliest maritime disaster of all time. Apr 7, 2017 mv wilhelm gustloff was a german cruise ship that sunk by uboat in 1942 9000 people had died was biggest tragedy maritime disaster in history. The cruelest night by christopher dobson, john miller, and ronald payne. Its about the doomed german ship wilhelm gustloff, which was. You go on board onto the wilhelm gustloff, with 10,000 others. The ship in question was the wilhelm gustloff, a former cruise liner that by wars end was deployed towards the evacuation of germans from the polish corridor, as the red army closed in. The vessels christened name was the nazi way of immortalising one of their party members, a commander of the national socialist party in switzerland. The event that forms the backdrop of your novel the sinking of the wilhelm gustloff, with a huge loss of life is all but unknown. Movie on wilhelm gustloff encyclopedia titanica message. Ship of fate by roger moorhouse is the story of a ship named the mv wilhelm gustloff. To this day, the deliberate sinking of this refugee ship filled with women and children remains not only the worst nautical disaster in world history but one of the most heartless and sadistic war crimes ever committed. An estimated 9,000 passengers were killed in the sinking, making it the greatest maritime disaster in history. Mv wilhelm gustloff was a german military transport ship which was sunk on 30 january 1945 by soviet submarine s in the baltic sea while evacuating german civilians, nazi officials and military personnel from gdynia gotenhafen as the red army advanced. German federal archives bundesarchiv, bild 1210665 the mv gustloff was the first ship built specifically for the german labour fronts kraft durch freude strength through joy program, which subsidized leisure activities for german workers.27 1154 649 455 286 320 1076 798 113 351 885 245 1138 444 91 1048 1234 282 1498 381 850 135 574 1140 799 1242 61 588 133 1120 1341 989 458 379 1004 1239 379 1228 1014