In 1945 almost 10,000 men, women and children were killed on board cruise liner the MV Wilhelm Gustloff as they fled the advancing Russian Army.
It is the naval disaster that dwarfs the Titanic but is rarely mentioned despite being the largest maritime catastrophe in history.
The ship set sail from Gdynia, then Gotenhafen, in occupied Poland and was bound for Kiel in northern Germany, but was attacked by a Russian submarine in the Baltic Sea in January 1945.
It sank in less than 40 minutes, causing the deaths of 9,343 people including about 5,000 children.
The fate of the vessel was a far cry from its intended use as a luxury liner for the 'master' German race and had no class division system so 'ordinary' people could enjoy holidays just like the rich.
Despite the death toll being six times greater than the loss of life on the Titanic, the sinking of the former German cruise liner is hardly known of.
By January 1945 the area of Prussia was threatened by the rapid Russian advance from the east, leading to Operation Hannibal - a massive naval evacuation of German troops and civilians there.
Although the 685ft long ship was carrying about 1,000 army soldiers and members of the Gestapo, there were also around 9,000 civilians.
As it headed west it was spotted by a Russian submarine. The German ship was armed with anti-aircraft guns but they had frozen and were useless.
The Russian submarine fired three torpedoes at the 25,000 tonne ship which all hit and delivered massive damage.
Some of the 9,343 victims died in the explosions and others were crushed to death in a stampede by panicked passengers but the majority either drowned or succumbed to exposure in the freezing conditions.
The ship was never designed for military use, having been built as a cruise liner for the Nazi Strength Through Joy tourism programme that aimed to bring middle class leisure activities to the masses through a ballot system. (Daily Mail)
Shenika Tuesday, 26 December 2017 15:15
I believe in the promise of Jesus that all those who perish in the sea would be resurrected when Jesus comes.
Reply : 8 5
voter Thursday, 28 December 2017 16:07
If Jesus is all that powerful in the 1st place why allow them to drown in the sea in such circumstances. He could've arranged for a much merciful ending to their lives.
Reply : 1 1
Patriot Tuesday, 26 December 2017 15:49
God never dies or born again. His presence is always felt by a clean in every way person at each and every step one takes and NOT by any one else.
Reply : 5 2
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