Seen as an agricultural utopia within Hitler’s Germany, it is often the view that both East and West Prussia had remained relatively untouched during the Second World War. Yet the violence, prejudice and murder associated with the National Socialist regime that brought most of Europe to ruin were widespread throughout Prussia during its brief existence.
When the MV Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk by a Russian submarine just after 9pm on 30 January 1945, 9,343 passengers - 5,000 of them children - would perish. It was the worst loss of life in maritime history, six times greater than that of the RMS Titanic.
Launched by Adolf Hitler on 5 May 1937 and the KdF (Kraft durch Freude = Strength through Joy) as a recreational and propaganda tool, the MV Wilhelm Gustloff would suffer the same fate as the nation it once represented. Yet 75 years later, her tragic story is still unknown to many.
Combining existing material and new findings, this book tells the story of Prussia’s rise and fall as a military power, the attempts by brave civilians as well as military personnel determined to overturn the evil regime they had made an oath to serve and the desperate evacuation of refugees to the West in one of the greatest exodus ever seen, told by those who were there.