(See "Tragedy at Sea")
Like your site, but I'm not sure where you got your stats on the Wilhelm Gustloff . You say " Wilhelm Gustloff had 8,000 people jammed on board, this cargo included troops, wounded, and some civilians. " "Some civilians" is a drastic understatement, which you may have gotten from some semi-propaganda book written just after the war.
According to the ships own records, the list of passengers on the 30th included 918 Naval officers and men, 173 crew, 373 members of the Woman's Naval Auxiliary units, 162 wounded, and 4,424 refugees, for an official
total of 6,050 people. There were also a large number of civilians who managed to sneak aboard. The ship was serving mainly as a civil transport, not as a troop ship. Similarly, the majority of people carried across the
Baltic to Denmark and Northern Germany were civilians fleeing the Red Army, not troops, although many troops were evacuated.
Thought you might like to know!
Lawrence N. Mirsky
Thank you for your comments.
But were the reported records right? National Geograpic Magazine made these comments in an artricle.
" The Gustloff's records cite 918 naval officers and men, 173 crew, 373
women's naval auxiliary, 162 wounded, and 4,424 refugees, for a total of
6,050 people. In 1980 a trio of British journalists studied the tragedy and
reported an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 deaths on board Gustloff. But Schön, a
survivor of the Gustloff tragedy, has revised the Gustloff numbers in his
more recent works, based on an analysis of the movement of people conducted
by a documentary film company. "When it sank," Schön wrote to me, "there
were 10,582 passengers on board. 8,956 were refugees, mainly women and
children. 9,343 died when the ship sank (it took 62 minutes after the
torpedo attack) and 1,239 survived."
Jason Pipes who maintains the Wilhelm Gustloff Memorial Pages has this to say on numbers onboard, and is repeating the geographic story.
.According to the ships own records, the list of passengers on the 30th included 918 Naval officers and men, 173 crew, 373 members of the Woman's Naval Auxiliary units, 162 wounded, and 4,424 refugees, for an official total of 6,050 people. This is according to the official list though, and doesn't take into account the many hundreds of other people that one way or another, were able to make their way onto the seemingly safe decks of the Gustloff. In fact, new research has now shown that the total number of people on the Gustloff at the time it was sunk was actually 10,582! Newly published research by Heinz Schon has set the number of people on the Gustloff as follows: 8,956 refugees, 918 officers NCOs and men of the 2.Unterseeboot-Lehrdivision, 373 female naval auxiliary helpers, 173 naval armed forces auxiliaries, and 162 heavily wounded soldiers, for a total of 10,582 people on board on January 30th.
All very interesting.
Looks like you took the ball and ran with it!
Seems to me that they'll never know the exact figures for sure, and that the figures will always be open to dispute, but it also seems very clear that the overwhelming number of people aboard were civilians. I can see that some people would like to inflate the number of troops aboard, as was done in Allied countries after the war, but the known facts do not support it. The dead were mainly women, children, and the elderly, as witnesses can attest.
Hope this has all been useful for you!
I agree that the majority of those lifted in this rescue peraion were civilians and said so.
"A vast fleet of ships was assembled to rescue these people, and, an incredible 2,116,500 people were picked up to be transported by sea to a safe area. This rescue operation enjoyed over a 98% success rate, and of this total, about half a million were military personnel. When compared to the rescue of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1940, this lift of refugees fleeing from the advancing rapacious Russian army was seven times greater."
Nice to talk with you.
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