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The Gustloff - one of the worst maritime disasters that seemed to never have happened


TheOther 5 | 3,711
10 Mar 2010 #31
Some additional info:

Relations between Russia and Germany have not been good since Vladimir Putin's nationalist sabre-rattling this summer, but they are about to get a whole lot worse.

A new film about to be released in Germany will force both countries to re-examine part of their recent history that each would much prefer to forget. Yet it is right that the ghastly truth should finally be acknowledged.

dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1080493/Stalins-army-rapists-The-brutal-war-crime-Russia-Germany-tried-ignore.html
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
10 Mar 2010 #32
Some additional info:

Another hint that these mass rapes were not about "revenge":

They raped everybody who couldn't run away quickly enough...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_crimes#1944.E2.80.931945

As I said before, I don't buy that "revenge"-explanation....
hague1cameron - | 85
10 Mar 2010 #33
Stalin himself, while church masses were held in expectation of a Soviet withdrawal.[34].

Very disturbing indeed. And more to it than revenge that's true.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
10 Mar 2010 #34
This thread took a very sad turn right after the Women's Day didn't it?

But maybe this is the time to remember when women did not have a special day and were used abused and killed by men who were part of an unruly mob in uniform....
Trevek 26 | 1,702
10 Mar 2010 #35
Yeah....how ironic....

Exactly. Presumably the Soviets used the excuse of it being a military ship they were torpedoing.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
10 Mar 2010 #36
Soviets used the excuse of it being a military ship

Well actually it was a military ship...It was painted in German naval grey , and had two anti aircraft guns fitted to the upper decks....The fact that it was being used for the evacuation of civilians and wounded soldiers as well as some military people would not have been known to the Russian submarine comander , and i doubt if it would have stopped him launching torpedoes at the ship anyway....
Nathan 18 | 1,363
10 Mar 2010 #37
It was painted in German naval grey , and had two anti aircraft guns fitted to the upper decks....

I bet that in 1945 and at weather conditions recorded, the Soviets saw neither grey color, nor anti-aircraft guns. They just deliberately sunk the ship without verifying its purpose.

On the bitter cold night of January 30th, 1945, the former KdF Cruise Liner Wilhelm Gustloff ... left from the Baltic port of Gotenhafen

When the Gustloff left the relative protection of the harbor at Gotenhafen on January 30th, 1945, the weather was very poor; wind strength of 7, it was snowing, the temperature was 10 degrees below zero, and ice flows were in the water

.

i doubt if it would have stopped him launching torpedoes at the ship anyway....

Taking into consideration of all mentioned rapes and the general comportment of the Red Army, where everything was condoned, sinking a passanger ship was no doubt the state's policy as well.

Thank you for posting about ship Gustloff - I have never heard of this before.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
10 Mar 2010 #38
sunk the ship without verifying its purpose.

Its difficult to see how the Russian captain of this submarine could have verified the purpose of the ship without surfacing his sub , opening the hatches , and putting a boarding party aboard the ship , something no inteligent sub captain is going to do in hostile waters , with a ship that may well be full of armed troops...

Just off the German coast , this ship is almost certainly going to be a German ship , and that was more than reason enough for the Russian sub to attack it...

Given the nature of the inhuman war between the Soviet union and Germany it may well be that this ship would have been sunk even if it had been clearly marked as a hospital ship , but it wasn,t and i don,t think you can blame the Russian sub captain for doing what sub captains of many nations did on a regular basis...

The reason Japan was brought to its knees was because the allied tactic was to sink anything Japanese that was spotted at sea , and this included even fishing boats and sampans , so the Russians were not doing anything out of the ordainary...

Its a tragedy of epic proprtions that the Gustloff was carrying so many people that day when it was sunk , most of them innocent civilians , but the Russian sub captain was not to know that , and as i say , he may have sunk it anyway...
Nathan 18 | 1,363
10 Mar 2010 #39
Its difficult to see how the Russian captain of this submarine could have verified the purpose of the ship without surfacing his sub , opening the hatches , and putting a boarding party aboard the ship , something no inteligent sub captain is going to do in hostile waters , with a ship that may well be full of armed troops...

To verify unknown you don't have to make a boarding party, wildy ;) Radio as a mean of communication was utilized by US navy since 1912. It means that by 1945 the Soviet Union should have had it on submarines as well ;)

Just off the German coast , this ship is almost certainly going to be a German ship , and that was more than reason enough for the Russian sub to attack it...

It could have been easily British, American, Swedish etc. ships. Very light probability at that specific time, but you couldn't be 100% sure. It could have damage the relations among the allies and the SU didn't want it.

Its a tragedy of epic proprtions that the Gustloff was carrying so many people that day when it was sunk , most of them innocent civilians , but the Russian sub captain was not to know that , and as i say , he may have sunk it anyway...

All I am saying is he couldn't have not known. He knew what that ship was. The captain was, probably, following the orders of sinking everything moving without distinction. I see we agree on that one.
enkidu 7 | 623
10 Mar 2010 #40
To verify unknown you don't have to make a boarding party, wildy ;) Radio as a mean of communication was utilized by US navy since 1912. It means that by 1945 the Soviet Union should have had it on submarines as well ;)

This ship was equipped with anti-aircraft weapons and in depth-mines. Among civilian passengers she carried also soldiers (mostly from eastern front). According to international law of war - Carl Gustloff can not be consider as a ship on the civilian or humanitarian mission. That was a German's mistake. Sorry - but that is true.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
10 Mar 2010 #41
Radio as a mean of communication

They did not work underwater though...and why would he risk surfacing in order to go through all the possible radio channels to contact the ship...It was almost certainly going to be a German ship , so whatever it was carrying..it was going down..!

If by some remote chance it had not been a German ship , unlikely , just off the German coast , then the Russian captain would likely as not just not admit to the sinking...

He was after all , a long way from where he was supposed to be patrolling in contravention of his orders....
Nathan 18 | 1,363
10 Mar 2010 #42
They did not work underwater though...and why would he risk surfacing in order to go through all the possible radio channels to contact the ship...

Do you have to surface the whole submarine to make a contact? You don't watch you TV on the roof, correct? Everytime you want to watch European Premier League you don't look for a ladder?! ;) And what about radio location of the target? Doesn't it use radio waves under water to find the target? You might not use them for communication, but still... He could easily find out what or whom the ship was carrying, and he most likely did, but he sink it on the orders.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
10 Mar 2010 #43
I never heard of any German , British , Japanese , or American sub making contact with any ship before torpedoing it..it just wasn,t done... A submarines best defence was to remain submerged , launch the torpedoes and run for it...Any radio transmission could result in detection and a depth charge attack...Most of the U boats that were sank were found because their messages were intercepted.....

All that was usually done before any attack was to identify the ship as a enemy one , thats as far as it went for any submarine of any nation...

Thanks to Herr goebels the German people had been filled with horror stories of what the Russians would do if they got on German soil , this was done to make them fight harder , but for the civilians it just caused mass panic when the Russians got near , and those that could flee , did so...If anyone is to blame for the huge loss of life , its mr Goebels...
Nathan 18 | 1,363
11 Mar 2010 #44
All that was usually done before any attack was to identify the ship as a enemy one

I don't know much about the matter, so I won't expand too much. But how could they identify the enemy sub if it was night, snowing and windy? I guess they just didn't try to do it.
skysoulmate 14 | 1,296
11 Mar 2010 #45
This ship was equipped with anti-aircraft weapons and in depth-mines. Among civilian passengers she carried also soldiers (mostly from eastern front). According to international law of war - Carl Gustloff can not be consider as a ship on the civilian or humanitarian mission. That was a German's mistake. Sorry - but that is true.

Not that Germany or Soviet followed any international conventions but that's correct.

Thanks to Herr goebels the German people had been filled with horror stories of what the Russians would do if they got on German soil , this was done to make them fight harder , but for the civilians it just caused mass panic when the Russians got near , and those that could flee , did so...If anyone is to blame for the huge loss of life , its mr Goebels..

Well, if you're going to go that far one could argue that Goebels saved many lives by warning the German population on what the Russians would do - reality more often than not proved worst than what the Germans feared. Not defending Germans by no means but there are many Polish survivers who recalls the German occupation with "fondness" (BIG sarcasm smiley if I had one!) at least when compared to what they endured when their Slavic-brother thugs "freed" them...
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
11 Mar 2010 #46
Thanks to Herr goebels the German people had been filled with horror stories of what the Russians would do if they got on German soil ,

Erm...it wasn't only to Goebbels....survivors who fled before told all the stories.

If anyone is to blame for the huge loss of life , its mr Goebels...

You've got to be kidding wildrover!
Do you have an idea what the Russians did to the German populations in the conquered towns in East Prussia???

Nemmersdorf, East Prussia, 1944

Nemmersdorf 1944

Next you will blame the mass rapes across Europe by the red hordes on Goebbels too? Something the people could have avoided if they just stayed put?
wildrover 98 | 4,451
11 Mar 2010 #47
What i meant was..that Goebbels did not help to calm people by making public the stories of what had happened to Germans in areas occupied by the Russians , and it was this panic that caused the Gustloff to be filled with so many scared people that day it was sunk...I wasn,t suggesting that Goebbels was personally responsible for any deaths of Germans , just that he helped to cause much of the panic by telling people what terrible things the Russians did....

Of course people heard such stories from German troops returning from Russia , but thats not the same as having it anounced daily on the radio....

Apart from the fact people were more at risk when out on the roads and subject to attack from Russian aircraft , having the roads filled with fleeing civilians severly hampered the movement of German troops....The military leaders were trying to stop civilians fleeing in panic for this very reason , and announcing such horrors as happened in Prussia had a negative effect on this....

I am well aware of what the Russians did in Prussia , my ex mother in law was from this area , and was part of the population that was fleeing west to escape the Russians...She barely escaped the trap around Danzig , and had she not done so , she could well have been one of the many people trying to board a ship leaving this area....
skysoulmate 14 | 1,296
11 Mar 2010 #48
Do you have an idea what the Russians did to the German populations in the conquered towns in East Prussia???

Agree. The only difference between Germany and the Soviets is that Germany "paid the price" after the war for the many attricities they committed. Not so with Russians who were just as brutal if not more to populations they occupied. It's true they killed "their own" too but that's not an excuse to rape and pillage Lithuanuans, Estonians, Latvians, Poles, Ukrainians, Slovaks, Hungerians, etc., etc.
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
11 Mar 2010 #49
.I wasn,t suggesting that Goebbels was personally responsible for any deaths of Germans , just that he helped to cause much of the panic by telling people what terrible things the Russians did....

Okay...a misunderstanding here...
wildrover 98 | 4,451
11 Mar 2010 #50
I certainly would not deny the horrific actions of Russian soldiers in the lands occupied by them , but i still think it was not a wise idea to make public the fate of Germans in the occupied areas...Many of those who fled were killed on route by Russian attacks....

Usually the population would stay put in their homes as long as they thought the German troops in the town or city had a chance of stopping the Russians , and because this is usually what they were instucted to do , but as soon as they saw the German troops and local leaders pulling out they would join the military units as they retreated , of course feeling a little more secure among a few tanks and armoured vehicles...

Unfortunatly , if they ran into any Russian units they would be attacked , the Russians were not concerned if there were civilians among the military units , i know of one instance where a German tank unit accompanied by hundreds of civilians ran into Russian guns and large numbers of civilians were killed also....After the leading tank was hit and destroyed , blocking the road , the remaing tanks were forced to reverse over the people that had survived the shelling and retreat..This was not an uncommon event...

As i stated earlier , my ex mother in law was part of this retreat westwards , and her stories of this time are not pleasant ones...
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
11 Mar 2010 #51
.Many of those who fled were killed on route by Russian attacks....

Many of those who stayed where shot or raped and then shot (Treuenbrietzen, Demmin)...fleeing you had at least a chance, don't tell me you wouldn't try the same in their position.
wildrover 98 | 4,451
11 Mar 2010 #52
Of course i would do the same , anyone would , its the natural reaction , especially if you have been told in great detail what the Russians were likely to do to you , but i am just saying from a military point of view its not wise to have your civilian population blocking the roads up and hampering movement of miltary units , not that this would have made much difference to the eventual outcome...

The reason the Russian crimes in occupied areas were daily announced on the radio in Germany was of course to encourage the German soldier to fight harder to defend his homeland , but it did not help to calm the civilian population and caused mass panic as the Russians got near to any town or city....

Yes , many Germans who remained behind were killed , but more than a million died in the retreat westwards...and most of those who survived found themselves overtaken or cut off by the Russians anyway , not so many were able to reach an area where they were not under Russian occupation....But no , i am not suprised people tried to escape , its what anyone would do if they could...
Harry
11 Mar 2010 #53
There's an interesting post-script to all this. The bell of the Wilhelm Gustloff was stolen from the wreck by Polish divers in the late 1970s. In the 1990's and early part of this century it used to decorate a restaurant in Gdynia (called 'Barracuda' if memory serves correctly), despite being the property of the Polish coast guard. Eventually it was removed and next reappeared in 2006 when it was lent to a Berlin museum, only to be called back to Poland when it transpired that it bell was to be displayed at an exhibition about the 12 million Germans who were expelled from Poland and other countries at the end of World War II.
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
11 Mar 2010 #54
Nemmersdorf, East Prussia, 1944

You do realise those children wouldnt die if you didnt let Nazis run amock? While i do not endorse killing of civilians what did you expect?

Women with kids wildly cheering Hitler while "proud Wehrmacht" burns your family in a barn, of course you will kill any number of German civilians, i always maintainted that the only people truly guilty for German losses during WW2 are Germans themselves, you're lucky geopolitics kept your people from getting wiped out completely.

Also i agree that Goebbels and Hitler are to blame, if i were a german commander i'd pull out civilian populations a full week before Russians even got close.
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
11 Mar 2010 #55
You do realise those children wouldnt die if you didnt let Nazis run amock? While i do not endorse killing of civilians what did you expect?

This is not about "you did it"..."no you did it first", Sok!

you're lucky geopolitics kept your people from getting wiped out completely.

Crap Sokrates..."wiping out" Germany was impossible...not much more but a fantasy but realistically not accomplishable. Nothing to do with luck!

And again, if it was only about revenge then how come the red army mass raped their way also through Poland, the Baltics, Hungaria, the concentration camps they just liberated etc...

Oh and Welcome back! ;)
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
11 Mar 2010 #56
This is not about "you did it"..."no you did it first", Sok!

A simple truth, if you trigger political mechanisms you can and will suffer a backlash, Poland did with Ukraine, you did with Russia et cetera.

Crap Sokrates..."wiping out" Germany was impossible...not much more but a fantasy but realistically not accomplishable. Nothing to do with luck!

It was impossible because both West and East needed slices of Germany as political pawns, militarily and logistically it was very possible, Germans themselves in 1945 were absolutely powerless to stop Soviets in any way and its not like Stalin wouldnt kill off Germans as a nation if it did benefit him, he was a sick f*ck with incredible power.

Again, if it was only about revenge then how come the red army mass raped their way also through Poland, the Baltics, Hungaria, the concentration camps they just liberated etc...

Of course it was about revenge thats what i'm talking about all along but there wouldnt e cause for revenge if Germany didnt start WW2, messing with Russia was an especially stupid idea since these guys have an asian approach to warfare.

As for rapes in Poland it wasnt that bad, women had to be watched of course and avoid larger groups but rule of a thumb was that russian troops got a bullet for raping non-German locals in Poland.

Thats not to say it was OK to do it to German civilians but for Christs sake what did you expect after all that Germans did in Russia, flowers?

Oh and Welcome back! ;)

Busy like bloody hell, by the way i'll have a nice publication about Kraków for you when i get back home :)
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
11 Mar 2010 #57
A simple truth, if you trigger political mechanisms you can and will suffer a backlash, Poland did with Ukraine, you did with Russia et cetera.

But that wasn't the topic....just a reminder about a sad catastrophe. No "they deserved it" needed, thank you.

Thats not to say it was OK to do it to German civilians but for Christs sake what did you expect after all that Germans did in Russia, flowers?

I'm not so sure about all this anymore....I accept everything there is about the the Jews, they really were pegged to be annihilatied, but I start to doubt the rest if I'm honest.

There were war crimes and atrocities, no doubt, lots of collateral damage too...but there were never these kind of mass rapes by the Germans, but there was the destruction order by Stalin to kill everything and destroy anything miles around the german army, there were the russian partisans who killed their own peasants ...there was the propaganda war, there was all these massacres which were pinned later all to the Germans because they lost the war and couldn't defend themselves anymore....who knows how much of all this was true.

Stalins Russia was a cess pit..I really doubt the Germans had been worse!

Busy like bloody hell, by the way i'll have a nice publication about Kraków for you when i get back home :)

:)
Sokrates 8 | 3,346
11 Mar 2010 #58
But that wasn't the topic....just a reminder about a sad catastrophe. No "they deserved it" needed, thank you.

They obviously didnt, who do you take me for? Nathan?

There were war crimes and atrocities, no doubt...but there were never these kind of mass rapes by the Germans,

The problem is two-fold, one Germans really let loose in Russia and two, Russians are a partly asian culture given that their very foundations come from Mongols, they as a nation and society do not follow the same civilisational standards as central or western Europe.

but there was the destruction order by Stalin, there were the russian partisans who killed their own peasants...there was the propaganda war, there was all these massacres which were pinned later all to the Germans because they lost the war....who knows how much of all this was true.

Thats also a bit of the problem, in Russia life always was of notoriously low value, now think about the lives of enemy civilians and here you are talking about things like civilisation or dignity.

Stalins Russia was a cess pit..

...

Was?
Bratwurst Boy 9 | 10,447
11 Mar 2010 #59
youtube.com/watch?v=H2xMgNkTamMWas?

Thanks for a good laugh! :):):)
(Okay...till to the rats in the bakery maybe...)
Harry
11 Mar 2010 #60
Women with kids wildly cheering while "proud Poles" burn your family in a barn, of course you will kill any number of Polish civilians

So you'd have no problem with the Israeli airforce bombing Jedwabne, Kielce, Krakow, etc etc?


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