The greatest sea tragedy of all time. The 25,484 ton German luxury cruise liner was built to carry 1,465 passengers and a crew of 400. The ship, now converted to a 500 bed hospital ship, set sail from the Bay of Danzig enroute to the port of Stettin, 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. Just before midnight, as the ship ploughed her way through the icy waters of the Baltic Sea, 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. Rescue boats picked from the stormy 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. (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 over 7,000 souls perished.
source-GENERAL VON STEUBEN
A few days after the Gustloff had been sunk, the 14,600 ton liner General von Steuben of the Nord German Lloyd shipping line, set sail from Pillau in the bay of Danzig, her destination being Swinemunde. On board were 2,000 wounded soldiers, 320 nurses and 30 doctors as well as over 1,000 refugees. Just after midnight, torpedoes from the S 13 hit the Steuben. She sank in seven minutes, the wounded lying helpless, strapped to their stretchers. In those seven minutes about 3,000 persons died, 300 being picked up by escorting ships. Within ten days, Captain Alexander Marinesko had sunk two of Germany’s largest liners and in the process had killed over 10,000 people.
the soviet sinking's which went unpunished are questionable since german navy was rescuing its people from stalinist pre-planned atrocities which soviets didn't like and hence purposefully sank the passanger carrying ships