The Sinking of Wilhelm Gustloff with 9400 Deads

Some may not be aware of a few cases named as Accident since they are the Accidents at Sea and take place in the list, though not ordinary events of incidents. There are some disasters ending in death of thousands of people. One of those is involved in such a terrifying accident, M/V Wilhelm Gustloff, operated as a hospital ship.

M/V Wilhelm Gustloff

M/V Wilhelm Gustloff is 208 meters in length, 23 meters in breadth with GRT of 25,484 tonnes having twin propeller. She commenced serving on the 5th of May in 1937 in Blohm & Voss shipyard with a passenger capacity of 1865 people. It was primarily constructed in order to serve some cultural tours, trips to concerts. Nevertheless it was then due to the needs in the military and navy decided to serve as a hospital ship in 1939. For instance it was called forth for the treatment and carriage of Nazi officers, infantry and civilians at sea against he Soviet forces pushing on.

On the 30th of January in 1945 M/V Wilhelm Gustloff is put to sea with 10,582 passengers aboard. This number people was highly over the capacity of 1865. The ship was full of people from the top to the bottom of the holds to say the least. Nearly 600 soldiers were present as well. By the way roughly 4000 of this number of passengers (8956 civilians) were children.

The weather temperature was -10°C to -18°C and it was snowing. The sea temperature was 4°C and the state was stormy with 7 beaufort force. The master on board a Russian submarine (S-13), Captain Alexander Marinesko, chasing M/V Wilhelm Gustloff for a while, decided to sink it firing four (4) torpedoes one of which could not be due to technical problems. These three (3) hit the mark and caused M/V Wilhelm Gustloff to sink in sooner than 45 minutes.

Due to such damage all of a sudden, the passengers could not have a chance to abandon via lifeboats on time and stuck on board ship or jumped to the sea. The common reason for death of passengers is hypothermia. The sinkage caused nearly 9400 people to die and hence that incident of M/V Wilhelm Gustloff, leave a mark in history as The Most Terrifying Accident causing Many to Die due to Sinking of a Ship”.

German Government has for many years dealt with this particular case to sign it as a Crime in Battle, however since there has been nearly 600 soldiers on board and the ship has not been titled as a Hospital Ship, this case has been declared as an ordinary operation in war and a common loss of life.

Translation By: Burak Konakoglu

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