Wilhelm Gustloff

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Dimitrii
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Wilhelm Gustloff

Post by Dimitrii » 30 Jan 2004 12:18

Today, 30th of january, it is exactly 59 years ago that the hospital ship Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed by the Russians, causing 5.348 deaths next to the crew. It is the largest naval tragedy to this day.

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Re: Wilhelm Gustloff

Post by redcoat » 30 Jan 2004 13:29

Stubaf wrote:Today, 30th of january, it is exactly 59 years ago that the hospital ship Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed by the Russians
Sorry but this is in the wrong section, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff though a great tragedy wasn't a war crime.
The Wilhelm Gustloff was not a hospital ship at the time of her sinking, in fact she hadn't been one since Nov 40 when she was converted into an accomodation ship for the German U-Boat arm.
Also on the night of her sinking she was carrying not only wounded and civilian refugees but over 1000 unwounded uniformed members of the German Navy.
She was also armed (light AA guns)
So according to the rules of war the Wilhelm Gustloff was a legitimate target for the Russian sub

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Post by alf » 30 Jan 2004 14:54

It is still the largest loss of human life at sea and for that sad fact should always be remembered.

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Post by Dimitrii » 30 Jan 2004 18:25

Not a warcrime? Topic moved? Hmm.

- the ship by construction was a holiday transporter
- very large indications of Red Cross declaration
- travelled at full illumination in the night

About 'soldiers':- the swimming pool inside the ship, was emptied then and occupied by hundreds of German women soldiers of communication units. These 400 people were killed on impact as one torpedo hit the ship exactly on this spot.

The submarine purpose seems to be a mere lie. Neither the construction
nor the actual use of this ship had something to do with submarines.

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Post by David Thompson » 30 Jan 2004 19:23

I'll move this topic back to the H&WC section of the forum on a showing of proof that the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff was a war crime. A bare claim without evidence is not enough to make that showing.

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Post by redcoat » 31 Jan 2004 00:37

Stubaf wrote:Not a warcrime? Topic moved? Hmm.
:roll:
- the ship by construction was a holiday transporter
which made it ideal for use as an accomodation ship
- very large indications of Red Cross declaration
She hadn't been a hospital ship for over 4 years, there were no markings. If there had it would have been a German war crime, hospital ships are not allowed by international law to be armed or carry unwounded troops.
travelled at full illumination in the night
this was because the captain of the ship was more worried about a collision with another ship in the crowded water than any Soviet submarine threat (up until that night no Soviet submarines had operated in that area)
About 'soldiers':- the swimming pool inside the ship, was emptied then and occupied by hundreds of German women soldiers of communication units. These 400 people were killed on impact as one torpedo hit the ship exactly on this spot.
You seem to have forgotten about the other 918 male naval officers, NCOs and men of the 2.Unterseeboot-Lehrdivision,being carried as well
The submarine purpose seems to be a mere lie.
If I cared what you thought I would be upset, but I don't so :P
Neither the construction
nor the actual use of this ship had something to do with submarines.
Check this site, it will confirm the facts I have given you

http://www.feldgrau.com/wilhelmgustloff.html

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Post by alf » 31 Jan 2004 02:23

Thankyou for the link Redcoat, it was a fascinating read.

As to it being a warcime, it depends, her primary function wasnt a Hopsital ship at the time she was sunk, she was being used as a refugee ship, meaning she could claim no protection under International Law. On that basis it isnt a war crime.

Here is another link about her loss

http://www.deepimage.co.uk/wrecks/wilhe ... f_main.htm
On the bridge of the GUSTLOFF there was an animated discussion about the ship’s course. A course hugging the coastline increased the danger from mines, while the deepwater northerly course, Emergency Route 58, posed more of a danger from subs. Captain Petersen minimized the danger from mines but pointed out that British planes had been active in the coastal area around Danzig. They would sail the northerly route. The idea of sailing a zigzag course was briefly considered but was quickly discarded on two accounts: Route 58 had been swept free of mines but was too narrow to permit zigzagging. Also, the tactic would consume far too much time.

One thing the GUSTLOFF had in its favor was the weather forecast. The worse the weather, the better the chances for a safe transit. It called for snow and poor visibility. But two hours into the voyage the weather suddenly started to clear somewhat. Another ominous sign: The TF-1 suddenly developed a leaking seam and radioed that it would have to return to port. Simultaneously, radio reports on sudden sub activity in the southern Baltic were broadcast from the naval radio station in Gotenhafen. Whether they were picked up by the GUSTLOFF is not known, but the LÖWE was capable of receiving transmissions only from its headquarters further west in Swinemünde.

Just before nightfall, Captain Petersen made his second critical error. He ordered full illumination, reasoning that the danger from collision in the low visibility was greater than any danger from subs. His executive officer had argued that the standard blue lights would give sufficient warning to passing ships. But the captain prevailed, and the GUSTLOFF was lit up like a cruise ship gaily enroute to Majorca.



I have only just read the Heavy Cruiser Admiral Hipper arrived on the scene but she left without attempting to pick up survivors, fearing another submarine attack.
As every nook and cranny aboard the LÖWE became full of huddled survivors, the heavy cruiser ADMIRAL HIPPER suddenly hove into view. The HIPPER was now the largest German warship in the Baltic, but it too had been ordered west and was herself carrying a load of about 1,500 refugees. She had sailed from Danzig a few hours later than the GUSTLOFF, but was moving at flank speed of 32 knots. Wild cries of jubilation broke out among passengers still aboard the GUSTLOFF. Peering through his binoculars, Captain Henigst took stock of the situation. Three empty lifeboats still hung in their davits, there were nine empty life rafts and the ship now had a 30 degree list to port.

It was now apparent to Henigst that his ship’s high freeboard would be an enormous obstacle to any rescue attempt. And in their weakened condition, only the most fit survivors would be able to climb the Jacobs ladders. In addition, the time required for this type of rescue operation would take hours. Henigst was torn. But before he could decide on his next move, one of his lookouts spotted a torpedo wake 20 degrees off his starboard bow. Then a second. The captain lost no time and radioed all rescue vessels: "U-boat risk too great for us to risk ship, passengers and crew. Also, our high freeboard would hinder and slow rescue attempts. Am leaving operations in your hands. Wish you success and good luck. Henigst."
http://www.deepimage.co.uk/wrecks/wilhe ... kappes.htm

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Erich
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Wilhelm Güstloff

Post by Erich » 31 Jan 2004 18:25

may I suggest the following by author Heinz Schon

Ostsee 45, Menschen, Schiffe, Schicksale.......697 pages ! huge.....
Flucht über die Ostsee 1944-45 im bild
Die Gustloff Katastrophe

Heinz was on the W. Gustloff and was present during the sinking. The man probably has THEE archiv covering this large vessel and many others during this tragic time of events. The work he has done cannot be paralled

v/r

~Erich

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Post by Germania » 31 Jan 2004 19:38

Yesterday was an good documentation about Wihelm Gustloff with time witnesses and an expidition to the wreck! And very objective! I think it was on german NDR!

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Post by Jan-Hendrik » 12 Dec 2004 13:09

Heinz Schön ended his evaluation about the number of victims , there were 10528 people on board , 9343 (!) didn´t survive the catatrophal night !

Jan-Hendrik

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Post by WalterS » 13 Dec 2004 05:36

According to Antony Beevor in "The Fall of Berlin, 1945":
On 30 January, Germany's largest "Strength through Joy" sea-cruise liner, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which had been designed to take 2,000 passengers, left with between 6,600 and 9,000 people aboard. That night, escorted by a single motor torpedo boat, it was stalked by a Soviet submarine of the Baltic Fleet. Captain A. I. Marinesco fired three torpedoes. All hit their target. Exhausted refugees, shaken from their sleep, panicked. There was a desperate rush to reach the lifeboats. Many were cut off below as the icy sea rushed in: the air temperature outside was minus eighteen Celsius. The lifeboats which had been launched were upset by desperate refugees leaping from the ship's side. The ship sank in less than an hour. Between 5,300 and 7,400 people lost their lives. The 1,300 survivors were rescued by vessels, led by the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. It was the greatest maritime disaster in history.
Beevor, p.51

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Post by Jan-Hendrik » 13 Dec 2004 05:54

Well , and I have the information from Schön & the last Zahlmeister of the Gustloff . Thats more worthy to me than any secondary literature ...

Jan-Hendrik

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Post by WalterS » 13 Dec 2004 16:39

Although the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff was, indeed, a great tragedy, it was but one tragedy of many that happened because of German aggression. I don't think this incident qualifies as a war crime and, thus, does not belong in the H&WC section.

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Post by Christian W. » 13 Dec 2004 17:48

I doubt there was really time to paint big text " НЕ УТОНИТЕ ЭТОТ КОРАБЛЬ! " on the hull of the ship. :roll:

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Post by RoW » 13 Dec 2004 19:35

Christian W. wrote:I doubt there was really time to paint big text " НЕ УТОНИТЕ ЭТОТ КОРАБЛЬ! " on the hull of the ship. :roll:
НЕ УТОПИТЕ ЭТОТ КОРАБЛЬ - I think it's better.

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