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Oct 6, 2009

Ghost Ships of the Baltic Sea

Jon Goodman
Ghosts of the Baltic Sea

John Ries
History's Greatest Naval Disasters

    The Sinking of
    • the Wilhelm Gustloff
    • the General Steuben
    • the Goya

    The means of transport were three ships: Goya, Steuben, and Wilhelm Gustloff; all of which were sunk by Russian torpedoes. If one is to consider the background to WWII, one might realize why many have disregarded the 20,000 lives that were lost. Since the victims (largely civilian Germans) were perceived as the enemy during WWII, it was probably easier for society to neglect the loss. In retrospect, the death toll is a disturbing statistic and one that easily surpasses that of the Titanic, an event in history that is the subject of far more reports and documents.

    -- Ghosts of the Baltic Sea

The Titanic sank on April 15 1912 after running into an iceberg and took 1,517 souls to their graves.

The Lusitania, sank on May 7, 1915, after being hit by a German submarine torpedo, taking 1,198 lives

Three German refuge boats, at a time where Germany had already lost the war, saw 20,000 civilians perish!

Each boat sunk had more perish than both the Titanic and the Lusitania disasters combined.

The Wilhelm Gustloff was the greatest maritime disaster of all time.

And the Russian submarines who sunk them, our allies, all used American-made torpedoes.

The History of the Wilhelm Gustloff, Steuben and Goya

Wilhelm Gustloff was the German leader of the Swiss NSDAP (Nazi) party; he founded the Swiss branch of the party at Davos in 1932.

On February 4 1936, David Frankfurter, a Jewish terrorist, supposedly incensed by Gustloff's anti-Semitic activism, shot and killed him in cold blood.

Hitler turned William Gustloff into a martyr for the State and christened Germany's newly launched prize cruise ship as the William Gustloff. -- but otherwise exhibited restraint with no Kristallnacht.

(It would take a second cold-blooded assassination, this time of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by German-born Polish Jewish Terrorist Herschel Grynszpan (Greenspan), in November of 1938, for the Kristallnacht to be enacted.)

The Wilhelm Gustloff only operated for several years as a cruise ship for ordinary German citizens before WW2 broke out.
    It served as the proud flagship of the "Strength through Joy" (Kraft durch Freude) movement, a well publicized and highly successful program that provided inexpensive luxury vacations for German workers. Over the next two years, the Wilhelm Gustloff routinely brought German tourists to the fjords of Norway and the seaside resorts of Portugal and Italy. Many of the grateful working class passengers who strolled the ship's decks had never before ventured outside of their own towns and villages.

After that, it spend the first two years as a hospital ship, then it stayed at port serving as a barrack for torpedo boat crew members.

Only when Russian troops were within 100 kilometers of Berlin did the Wilhelm Gustloff, the Steuben and the Goya begin shuttling German refugees back to Germany from advancing Russian armies in Operation Hannibal.

    It began in mid-October 1944, when Red Army forces first broke into German East Prussia. Spurred on by the hate filled calls to violence against Germans by Soviet Jewish propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg (emphasis added by TCS), Red Army troops systematically plundered and murdered Germans unfortunate enough to fall into their hands.

    One of the first towns taken by the Soviets was Nemmersdorf, in the Gumbinnen district of East Prussia. It was only because German forces succeeded in recapturing this town a short time later that the world was able to learn how Soviet troops had set about brutally raping females of all ages, and slaughtering the old men, women and children there. The fortunate ones were shot out of hand. Many were clubbed or hacked to death. After being raped, naked women were nailed to doors in crucifix positions. In one case, a group of refugees was crushed under Soviet tanks.

    German authorities lost no time in publicizing the horrifying results of the brief Soviet occupation. Journalists, including some from neutral Sweden, Switzerland and Spain, were quickly brought in to report on what had happened. Shocking newsreel footage from Nemmersdorf was shown in German motion picture theaters.

    Panic-stricken civilians now desperately sought to escape falling into the hands of the advancing Soviets. As a result, during the final months of 1944 and early 1945, long columns of terrified refugees streamed into the towns and villages along the Bay of Danzig, all frantically waiting for boats that would take them to at least temporary refuge further to the west.

Sadly, on January 30 1945, the Wilhelm Gustloff would be struck by three Russian torpedoes and with the loss of over 9,000 lives, become the greatest loss of life in a maritime disaster in history.

The General Steuben would met the same fate on February 10 1945 from the exact same Russian torpedo boat with a loss of 3,500 lives.

Finally the Goya would be sunk on April 16, 1945 with 7,000 civilians and wounded soldiers just days from the end of WW2 on V-E Day (May 8, 1945).

All three were German refugee boats.

All three were engaged in an EXODUS of innocents from harm's way.

If the Luisitania was a war crime by Germany, then all three of these were war crimes by our friends and allies -- the Soviets.

You can read further at The Problem.
You can read further at The Solution.
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