The Deadliest Disaster at Sea Killed Thousands, Yet Its Story Is Little-Known. Why?
Sinking of the Gustloff (rare video)
By Francine Uenuma/Smithsonianmag.com
By the time the Soviet Union advanced on Germany’s eastern front in January of 1945, it was clear the advantage in World War II was with the Allies. The fall of the Third Reich was by this point inevitable; Berlin would succumb within months.
Among the German populace, stories of rape and murder by vengeful Soviet forces inspired dread; the specter of relentless punishment pushed many living in the Red Army’s path to abandon their homes and make a bid for safety.
The province of East Prussia, soon to be partitioned between the Soviet Union and Poland, bore witness to what the Germans called Operation Hannibal, a massive evacuation effort to ferry civilians, soldiers and equipment back to safety via the Baltic Sea.
German civilians seeking an escape from the advancing Soviets converged on the port city of Gotenhafen (now Gdynia, Poland), where the former luxury ocean liner Wilhelm Gustloff was docked.
The new arrivals overwhelmed the city, but there was no turning them back. If they could get to the dock and if they could get on board, the Gustloff offered them a voyage away from besieged East Prussia.
Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.
She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with her husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescues.
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