The demise of
the 'Wilhelm Gustloff'
is the largest
in the history
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.
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.
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