Any Surviving Children?

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Holly Peterson

Guest
Hello, I am new to the Wilhelm Gustloff, and I'm not even sure it is the ship I am thinking about, but I remember some ship that was torpedoed in the second World War with a huge loss of life. I think I read somewhere it was the greatest loss of life in any shipwreck (is this true?) and also that thousands of children died. If this is the ship I'm thinking of, I wanted to know where there any children who survived? And by children I mean anyone from a newborn to age 17.

If I am completely deluded, which I probably am, and the Wilhelm Gustloff is not the ship I'm thinking of, do you know which one it could be? I'm just really confused and would like some help please and thank you.
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Holly Peterson

Guest
I stopped being lazy and did some research myself, and found out that the Gustloff is the ship I am thinking of. I also discovered that some children did survive! (I was thinking they had all perished
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. Among these were a baby who was picked up from the water, an 11-year old girl named Irene, and a 10-year old boy named Hans or something (I got this off the official website.) Are there any more children I should know about? Again, I am not trying to pester or bother anyone, I am just curious.
 

John Clifford

Member
Nov 12, 2000
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Quick note, Holly: for casualty numbers, the WILHELM GUSTLOFF is the worst maritime disaster.
The original estimate was that ~7,500 people died.
A documentary, which aired several years ago, now estimates that the total loss was about 9,616 people, based on the fact that the ship was severely overloaded, and that it sank in the Baltic Sea in January, when the water would have been much too cold to survive in.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The original estimate was that ~7,500 people died. <<

That we know of. The catch here is that the Germans packed so many people onto the ship with some of the records being lost in the war that we really don't know for sure. Anyway you reckon it, this ranks as the single worst maritime loss of any kind in peace or war from any cause.

I recall seeing the documentary which John mentioned. Several of the survivors were interviewed, most of whom were children at the time.
 
This was part of the Discovery Channel's UNSOLVED HISTORY series (it was a good series that seems to have been canceled). They analyzed photographs taken before the Gustloff sailed, judging the waterline to estimate the weight and thereby the number of people on board. They used some fancy dancy computer program in the UK that maps evacuation routes. And some other methods. Very interesting. It's on DVD (I saw it on TV when originally on but rented it from Netflix recently).
 

Jaime Han

Member
Oct 6, 2018
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>>The original estimate was that ~7,500 people died. <<

That we know of. The catch here is that the Germans packed so many people onto the ship with some of the records being lost in the war that we really don't know for sure. Anyway you reckon it, this ranks as the single worst maritime loss of any kind in peace or war from any cause.

I recall seeing the documentary which John mentioned. Several of the survivors were interviewed, most of whom were children at the time.
Could you state the name of the documentary? I would like to watch it.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Could you state the name of the documentary? I would like to watch it.
There are several good documentaries on the ship on YouTube. This link is one and if you look to the right of this one while its playing on the YouTube site you will see several others. Hopes this helps your search.