German tragedy of destiny

Wilhelm Gustloff






The demise of the 'Wilhelm Gustloff'

is the largest ship-disaster

in the history of seafaring.


9,343 people - that is six times more than

the toll from the sinking of the 'Titanic'.



Refugees before embarkation


On 30 January 1945, shortly after 9 in the evening, the ship full of refugees (mostly women and children) and wounded was torpedoed by the Soviet submarine 'S 13'.


Sketch of the submarine 'S 13'


... and in the reality


The ship got two heavy hits. Panic broke out on board. Many people were put to death, most of the lifeboats were ice-covered and could not be launched. Many desperate to escape jumped overboard but in the icy waters of the Baltic Sea there was no chance of survival. Most went down with the ship and drowned miserably.




Lieutenant Alexander I. Marinesko, the commander of the Soviet submarine, was in 1990 posthumously awarded the Order of the "Hero of the Soviet Union" and in 2006 in Königsberg (in Russian: Kaliningrad) a monument was inaugurated in his honor.


9,343 dead



Scene from the movie Last Voyage of the Wilhelm Gustloff




In the fateful night



Brief report of the U.S. Army's German-language propaganda publication

on the biggest ship catastrophe in the history of humanity