The ABC Radio National Program, Late Night Live (LNL), has during this summer being replaying some of its extraordinary broadcasts, and, this week, LNL, replayed The Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff f
I was listening to the program, and, again realised that this would be an excellent WebQuest topic!
"In this program, three survivors, a historian and a shipwreck photographer tell a story of immense human drama, and explain why this remains a little known tragedy. Guests on this program: Leigh Bishop, Deep sea diver and shipwreck photographer; Eva Rothchild, Wilhelm Gustloff survivor; Horst Woit, Wilhelm Gustloff survivor; Inge Roedecker, Wilhelm Gustloff survivor; and, Claes-Goran Wetterholm, Shipping historian & author.
Leigh Bishop's photos of the Wilhelm Gustloff wreck.
Dodens Hav ('Sea of Death'), Author: Claes-Goran Wetterholm
Publisher: Prisma, Sweden, 2003 (in Swedish only)
The Damned Don't Drown, Author: Arthur V. Sellwood
Publisher: Naval Institute Press (USA) Reprint edition, 1996.
The Cruelest Night, Author: Christopher Dobson et al
Publisher: Little Brown, 1980.
Crabwalk, Author: Gunter Grass
Publisher: Harvest Books (English edition), 2004." (Source: ABC website)
On researching, I found the following information:
"The Wilhelm Gustloff's final voyage was during Operation Hannibal in January 1945, when she was sunk while participating in the evacuation of civilian refugees, German soldiers, and U-boat personnel surrounded by the Red Army in East Prussia. She was hit by three torpedoes from the Soviet submarine S-13 in the Baltic Sea on the night of January 30, 1945, and sank in under 45 minutes, taking an estimated 9,400 people with her. If accurate, this makes the sinking of the Wilhem Gustloff the largest known loss of life in a single sinking in maritime history......Many ships carrying civilians were sunk during the war by both the Allies and Axis. However, based on the latest estimates of passenger numbers and those known to be saved, the Wilhelm Gustloff remains the largest loss of life resulting from the sinking of one vessel in maritime history. Günter Grass, in an interview published in The New York Times on Tuesday April 8, 2003 said, "One of the many reasons I wrote Crabwalk was to take the subject away from the extreme right... They said the tragedy of the Gustloff was a war crime. It wasn’t. It was terrible, but it was a result of war, a terrible result of war." According to the Soviet propaganda version, more than a thousand German officers, including 70–80 submarine crews, were aboard and died in the sinking of the Gustloff. The women onboard the ship at the time of the sinking and were described, perhaps falsely, as SS personnel from the German concentration camps." (Source: Wikipedia )
This sounds like a real messy problem to solve and suitable for students studying World War II in Years 11 - 12.
Marcus Kolga's "Sinking the Gustloff" by Herwig Wandschneider
(a review of the Film).
"In the film, Dr. Alfred de Zayas, Legal Expert on Displacement (Vertreibung) and Ethnic Cleansing, Retired Senior Lawyer with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Professor of International Law in Geneva assessed the torpedoing to be a war crime." (Source: website)