German tragedy of destiny

Cap Arcona










The burning ship


On 3 May 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War, there occured a terrible ship tragedy.


The 'Cap Arcona' was one of the luxury liner of the Hamburg-South America Line.

In 1944 the ship was used for transporting refugees from East Prussia to the west as well as for evacuating inmates of the Neuengamme concentration camp.


The ship was anchored in the Bay of Neustadt together with the steamer 'Deutschland' which was converted into a hospital ship. About 10,000 prisoners were already aboard the refugee ship as they were attacked by a British bomber squadron with bombs, rockets and guns. The first ship burning out was the 'Deutschland'.


In a second wave 40 rockets hit the 'Cap Arcona' turning the ship from stern to minship into a blazing inferno. Thousands of people were burnt alive. After an explosion inside the ship the huge vessel capsized and sank.


Even the survivors floating in the water were attacked by canons. More than 7,000 people died, most of them evacuated prisoners, only a few days before the end of the war.


7,000 dead