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3 Remote Warehouse Military- World War II General

Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff


Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff Cover

ISBN13: 9781137279194
ISBN10: 1137279192
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

January 1945: the outcome of World War II has been determined. The Third Reich is in free fall as the Russians close in from the east. Berlin plans an eleventh-hour exodus for the German civilians trapped in the Red Armys way. More than 10,000 women, children, sick, and elderly pack aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a former cruise ship. Soon after the ship leaves port, three Soviet torpedoes strike it, inflicting catastrophic damage and throwing passengers into the frozen waters of the Baltic. More than 9,400 perished in the night—six times the number lost on the Titanic. Yet as the Cold War started no one wanted to acknowledge the sinking. In Death in the Baltic, by drawing on interviews with survivors, as well as the letters and diaries of those who perished, award-wining author Cathryn Prince reconstructs this forgotten moment in history. She weaves these personal narratives into a broader story, finally giving this WWII tragedy its rightful remembrance.


“In describing the experiences of survivors, whom she has been adept in tracing, Cathryn Prince gives voices to ‘ordinary people who suffered during extraordinary times — and does so with scrupulous empathy.”—The Spectator

About the Author

Cathryn J. Prince is the author of A Professor, a President, and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science, for which she won the Connecticut Press Club's 2011 Book Award for non-fiction. She is also the author of Burn the Town and Sack the Banks: Confederates Attack Vermont! and Shot from the Sky: American POWs in Switzerland. She worked as a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor in Switzerland and in New York, where she covered the United Nations. Prince covers the Connecticut State House for

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



Chapter One: “You Have to Go On This Ship”

Chapter Two: Hitlers Hostages: Life in the Eastern Territories 

Chapter Three: Operation Hannibal and the Crown of the Fleet--the Wilhelm Gustloff

Chapter Four: “We Knew We Had to Get Out”

Chapter Five: Saving a Scuttled Reputation

Chapter Six: Battle for the Baltic

Chapter Seven: Chaos on Deck

Chapter Eight: Plummeting to the Sea Floor

Chapter Nine: The Little Red Sweater

Chapter Ten: Forgotten Story

Chapter Eleven: “We Had To Get Over It”



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Chris Blaker, January 17, 2015 (view all comments by Chris Blaker)
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Reading it, I felt like it would have made a terrific New Yorker piece, but as it was at 200 pages, the story felt stretched.
The basic story of the book is that during the end of WWII, Germany attempted to evacuate civilians, mostly by boat, from East Prussia to deeper into German territory, to save them from the Russians. The operation was successful in for the most part. The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff is a notable example, 9,000 men, women and children lost their lives when it sunk. The approximate number (there are no exact numbers) of dead makes it the worst naval disaster of all time (Titanic= 1,502 and Lusitania=1,198). The reason few people know about the Gustloff, has to do with when it happened (end of World War II) and who it happened to (Germans). The story was under-reported because obviously there many other events at the time crowding this story out of the headlines. At the time, the Allied press was not too sympathetic to German civilians either.
The best parts of the book are the interviews with survivors. You get a sense of what Nazi Germany was like near the end and how terrible it was to escape from a sinking ship in ice cold waters. The parts of the book that try to provide historical perspective, weren't as good and seem a bit thrown together. There was a bit on page 178 that bothered me. The paragraph is too long to quote here, but it talks almost exclusively about new submarine technology, then randomly inserts a part about German rockets, and then goes back to talk about submarines at the end.
The good parts as I said are with the survivors. The survivors the author spoke to, were primarily children. Their stories are poignant and sad. These parts reinforce the fact, that the ones that suffer most in war are those least responsible for things.
If you're interested in German or naval history I might recommend this book, just make sure to skim the historical background chapters.
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Product Details

Prince, Cathryn J.
Palgrave MacMillan Trade
Prince, Cathryn
Russia (pre & post Soviet Union)
Military - World War II
Europe - Baltic States
Military-World War II General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Includes one 8-page black-and-white phot
9.25 x 6.125 in 1 lb

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Military » Naval History
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » Europe » Nautical
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General
History and Social Science » Russia » General Russian History
History and Social Science » World History » Eastern Europe
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General

Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff New Trade Paper
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$17.00 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Palgrave MacMillan Trade - English 9781137279194 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

“In describing the experiences of survivors, whom she has been adept in tracing, Cathryn Prince gives voices to ‘ordinary people who suffered during extraordinary times — and does so with scrupulous empathy.”—The Spectator

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