National Geographic : 2005 Jun
Forum A Wreck Revealed My heart almost stopped when I saw the photo of the mother and child boarding the Steuben. It could have been my mother holding me by the hand. I was born in Konigsberg, East Prus sia. In January 1945 my mother decided to leave our home since the advancing Russians were close to the city. Together with my older brother and sister we made our way to Gotenhafen to board the Wilhelm Gustloff. My mother told me later that I cried hysterically, and she was unable to calm me down. Something made her listen to her five-year old daughter, and she decided not to board the ship. ELKE DUFFY Volcano, California As you clearly pointed out, the passengers on the Steuben were refugees, among them many FOR MORE INFORMATION To get NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC please call 1-800 -NGS-LINE (1-800-647-5463). Hearing-impaired TDD users may call 1-800 -548-9797. The magazine's website: nationalgeo graphic.com/magazine For an online index of all National Geographic publications, go to: nationalgeographic.com/publications [k'~~ K' 4 women, children, and wounded soldiers. No military or other threat came from the Steuben, or from the Wilhelm Gustloff, or the Goya. Therefore, in my opinion, the attacks were war crimes. HEINRICH GASTEIGER Munich, Germany You offer a heartrending account of the "unspeakable panic" on board the Steuben as its passengers, 80 percent of whom were German soldiers, "were jumping into the frigid water." However, as I read of their suffering, I could not help but wonder whether any of the Steuben's passengers par ticipated, or chose to look the other way, as Germany's Einsatz gruppen, the mobile killing units, prowled through eastern Euro pean cities. The passengers on board the Steuben had some chance of survival, small though it may have been. I cannot say the same for my Hungarian rela tives whom the Nazis sent to the gas chambers. JIM GROSSFELD Bethesda, Maryland While it is commendable to point to the suffering of the pop ulation during World War IIand its aftermath, you didn't mention NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC * JUNE 2005 February 2005 In response to "AWreck Revealed," the story of the discovery of the Ger- T4V Y man ship Steuben, readers expressed passionate opinions and offered vivid personal stories of World War II. One shared an experience similar to that ofphotographer Christoph Gerigk. She and her family also nearly boarded the Wilhelm Gustloff, which was sunk by the same Soviet submarine that torpedoed the Steuben. Read below about what saved her family. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY "Forthe increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge." The National Geographic Society is chartered in Washington, D.C., as a nonprofit scientific and educational organization. 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