Wilhelm Gustloff

Apr 27, 2005
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My reference would be the excellent PBS three-part series on Auschwitz, recently aired. SS officers with their wives and children living on the grounds of the extermination camp, within a few hundred feet of the atrocities, within hearing distance of the bullets, within view of the fences, within range of the stench of burning human flesh, can never legitimately feign ignorance of what was happening.
The SS officers no doubt shared their political and racial views with their wives and children. Whether they discussed the day to day sadism they inflicted upon their prisoners is an unanswered question.
 
Mar 5, 2001
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No human in the world have to die in such a way like humans on board the Willhelm Gustloff. The nurses in the swimming pool for example. Usually they are not older than 20 years and up to one all are died when the torpedo hit there. Do they have the dead earned??

Have 9000 most woman and children earned the dead? WHY?

Not every german was an bad Nazi at this time.

and you should look better the Muppet-Show...

best regard from Germany

Thorsten Totzke
www.LostLiners.de
 
N

Nicolas Roughol

Guest
I must agree with Thorsten here. Richard, where exactly did you get the idea that passengers aboard the WG were "largely members of the SS"?

The Waffen SS were a special, military unit of the Nazi party, but were never a part of the Wehrmacht, the regular German army.

Aboard the WG were mostly civilians, women and children included, and soldiers, yes, but no S.S, or at least, not in the amount you mentioned.

I really thought, 60 years after the end of WWII, that most people would know better and would not make this stupid association: german=nazi
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Apr 27, 2005
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I never said German = Nazi, being a German myself.

Kindly do not rewrite history. The culpable remain culpable, and revisionists do nobody any favors. The Gustloff was filled with SS officers, party officials, their families,and persons seeking preferential treatment while fleeing from the advancing Red Army. They brought tons of stolen art and valuables taken from exterminated families, raped museums, and looted private collections. There is no reason to pity the SS or any members of the Nazi party and their minions. Stick to your history and stop making it up as you go. There were no cuddly Nazis.
I really don't appreciate the personal epithets, by the way.
 
Mar 5, 2001
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You have no idea about what you wrote...

READ IT FROM MY LIPS:
THERE WHERE MOSTLY CIVILIANS, WOMEN AND CHILDREN ON BOARD!

roundabout 7000 civilians, 173 crew members (civil not military!), roundabout 160 wounded soldiers, 373 nurses and: 918 Members of the "2. U-Bootlehrdivision"

BUT NO SS!

and if you do not know us please write to:

Heinz Schön
Auf dem Sepp 19
32107 Bad Salzuflen
Germany

He is one of the Survivors of the desaster and he has the greatest collection of Gustloff Memorabilia in the World.

and please do not look more of your bad PBS-Documentations...the Teletubbys are better then this...
 

John Clifford

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Nov 12, 2000
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The Wilhelm Gustloff sinking was one of the many tragedies of World War II; the Baltic Sea, in January and February of 1945, became a mass graveyard, one of many during the War.
Most of the people on board the ship were simply trying to get back to Germany; I wonder how many of them were seriously thinking that their country was on the verge of defeat?? They found themselves "in the wrong place at the wrong time" (pardon the cliche), and probably realized that they were facing an uncertain future (were they to get back home).

Nobody can, or will, excuse the atrocities committed, previously, as well as the miseries faced by all sides. It was a dark chapter, in World History (even as we knew that Hitler had to be stopped), and something that, with luck, many of us will never have to experience.

That is all I have to offer on this thread. Personally, I think we should all "take time off". Please note: that is my own thought, and is not sanctioned or approved by Phil, nor any of the moderators.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>SS officers with their wives and children living on the grounds of the extermination camp, within a few hundred feet of the atrocities, within hearing distance of the bullets, within view of the fences, within range of the stench of burning human flesh, can never legitimately feign ignorance of what was happening.<<

And how does that somehow make any of them guilty of anything beyond being in the wrong place at the wrong time? It's not like they were the ones carrying out the executions. Further, what would you expect any of these people to do about it? Being a dissidant in Nazi Germany was a substantial health hazard. The sort where you could end up being hanged on a piano wire of get that extra special haircut that doesn't grow back. The very real prospect of getting your neck stretched or your head cut off does give one a substantial incentive to toe the line, or at the very least to clam up.

>>The SS officers no doubt shared their political and racial views with their wives and children.<<

Maybe they did. However, this does not by extention or assocciation make them guilty of anything.

>>Whether they discussed the day to day sadism they inflicted upon their prisoners is an unanswered question.<<

Also irrelevant. Whether or not any soldiers "deserved" to die a horrible death has no bearing on the fact that their dependants...none of whom had a vote in the matter...did not.

>>Kindly do not rewrite history.<<

A very pretty point there. You've mentioned the PBS special as a source. Now do you have any primary sources to back up your claims about who the passengers on the Wilhelm Gustloff were on her last voyage? If so, please present them. (PBS specials are *not* primary sources)

>>and you should look better the Muppet-Show... <<

And

>>Tele-tubbies, huh? Obviously, you would know.
I have no desire to continue your revisionist dialog.<<

And

>> Do not talk about thinks you dont know anything from...<<

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Okaaaaaaaaayyyy....moderators hat on for these as it's obviously too late for any editing and deletions. Gentlemen, obviously, there is plenty of wiggle room for differences of opinion. However, personal attacks are not acceptable here. Remember that while the points are fair game for discussion, debate, and even attack, the person making them is not.
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We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate, already in progress.
 
Apr 27, 2005
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PBS produced a three part series on Auschwitz, NOT on the "Wilhelm Gustlof". Let's get that in the clear. I will no longer debate on this topic as it simply exacerbates a sore point and, in this case, gives a revisionist a platform on which to spew ideology.
Done. That's it. No more.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I wonder what notice there was in 1980 on the 75th anniversary, if any........<<

Then how does *that* prove that the Wilhelm Gustloff was carrying SS troop?

>> I will no longer debate on this topic as it simply exacerbates a sore point and, in this case, gives a revisionist a platform on which to spew ideology.<<

Mmmmmm....nice evasion. And with all due respect Richard, whose ideology? Further I have to wonder from whom it is the revisionism is actually coming, especially when you make a claim then don't even have primary sources to back it up. You're profile indicates that you are among other things, a "marine historian" so surely you know and understand what a primary source is as well as it's value. This is a forum inhabited by, among others, some of the top historians in the Titanic community so you can be certain we *do*. If you believe that Thorston and Nicholas are mistaken, then please present the first hand evidence to back it up.

That's not so unreasonable, and we might learn something.
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Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Thorsten quoted some of Heinz Schon's recent research, which suggests the following figures:

8,956 refugees
918 officers, NCOs and men of the Unterseeboot-Lehrdivision
373 female naval auxiliaries
173 naval armed forces auxiliaries
162 heavily wounded soldiers,
Total of 10,582 people

Of course, we will never know precisely how many died.

I am not a WWII revisionist. My parents befriended Simon Weisenthal in Vienna in the 70s, and among the earliest books I read about WWII was The Murderers Amongst Us. I knew survivors of the Shoah in NY in the 80s, and one of my Uncle's close friends was a very gentle man who had survived the horror of Auschwitz. I last saw him at my uncle's funeral - he still had his concentration camp number tattoo.

That being said, what happened to the Wilhelm Gustoff, as with the Goya, is one of the most sickening, chilling stories of the horrors of war extant. I have no doubt that some evil, whole-hearted participants and collaborators with the Nazi regime perished on board her. I also have no doubt that many more hundreds upon hundreds of innocent German men, women and children - also caught up in the terror of war - died one of the most horrible deaths imaginable when she went down.
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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The Gustloff was a legitimate target for the S.13, which could have known nothing of who was aboard. Such is war.

Even had she been displaying red cross symbols (she was essentially a hospital ship at that point), it would have made no difference. By that stage of the war's debaucheries, even a vessel representing herself in that way would have been equally 'legitimate.'

A baby was being born when the torpedo struck. The head had just appeared. And then the lights went out and the ship heeled...

It is an extraordinary thing, but this individual will celebrate his 60th birthday this month, still alive, and with a sea career in the merchant service. Miracles still happen too.

Anyone who heard Claes-Goran Wetterholm's recent lecture on the Gustloff, Goya and General Von Steuben cannot have failed to have been transfixed.

He hopes to produce an English language book on the subject in due course.

In the meantime, a great general account in this language is a book called The Cruellest Night - three credited authors whose names I can't remember.
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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Sorry - the Gustloff baby obviously turned 60 earlier this year, on the anniversary of the sinking.

I see from a post by Tracy earlier that The Cruellest Night was by Christopher Dobson, John Miller, and Ronald Payne.

Gunter Grass also has a novel called Crabwalk which came out last year and which deals with the Gustloff.
 
Mar 5, 2001
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Hi Senan!

You mean "Dobson, Miller, Payne"
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And Yes the Gustloff was an legimated target that is right. But he was no Hospital Ship at this time. Hospitalship she was only from 10.07.1940 until the 25.08.1940. Since 20.11.1940 she was a living ship in Gotenhafen and also an Training ship for the 2nd U-Boot Lehrdivision.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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Like Senan, I was there for Claes-Goran's presentation on the WG and likewise, I found it riveting. I know a little about the WG, the Goya, the General Von Steuben, Cap Arcona and Thielbeck.

They are almost the forgotten disasters of the war, almost as if they shouldn't be remembered because they were German ships and the people who died brought it on themselves. The amount of people killed in these ships is in excess of 26,000, of which the vast majority were civilians and non-combatants, people caught up in the policies of their government.

I have the book The Cruellest Night but haven't had a chance to read it yet (currently reading The Poseidon Adventure (yes I know - sad man).

If I remember correctly, the mother of the baby being born did survive, giving birth to her son on board a rescue vessel. I think that's right, Senan?

Cheers,

Boz
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Over the last couple of week the UK Daily Mirror has been including reproductions of the front pages of issues published during the period leading up to VE day. At the bottom of the page for 4 May is a resume of notable military actions the day before, including:

RAF pilots yesterday sighted about 250 ships, including U-boats and sailing ships, making for Norway from Denmark. This armada of die-hards was protected only by two single-engined fighter planes. The RAF pounced. Rockets sank ship after ship, some in the open sea and some in Baltic harbours. One 10,000-ton ship was left ablaze in Lubeck Bay (Germany). As the Typhoons swooped, convoys split up and altered course individually, some trying to head back to port. There seemed to be no central direction.

The notably large vessel ablaze in Lubeck Bay was surely the Cap Arcona with its cargo of prisoners not going anywhere, but sadly anchored in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's interesting to see how this action was portrayed at the time in the British press, and it's hard to blame anybody at the time for seeing it that way. I daresay the sinking of the Gustloff was viewed in a similar light, and again understandably so. It's only with the benefit of hindsight, our detailed knowledge of what was then unknown and the luxury of viewing from a safe distance that we are able to judge these things differently.
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