This film's closing epilogue states: "Over 9000 people lost their lives that night [the Gustloff ship sank]. Most were women and children. There has never been a formal investigation."
According to the Australian DVD sleeve notes, this film was five years in the making and was also one of the most expensive films ever made by the UFA (Ufa Film-und Fernsehproduktion [de]) and ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF)).
Six times the number of people who died in the Titanic disaster died when the Gustloff ship sank making it one of the worst naval catastrophes in history.
The German ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk on January 30th 1945 by a Soviet submarine in the Baltic Sea.The ship was evacuating troops,civilians and officials from occupied Poland to Germany as part of Operation Hannibal.
The German ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff was built by the Blohm & Voss shipyards in 1937 and served in various roles:cruise ship, hospital ship, floating barracks for naval personnel and finally evacuees transport ship.
The German ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German cruise ship of 25,484 tons and measured 208.5 meters in length, 23.59 meters wide, 56 meters high. It had 8 decks, a complement of 417 crew and 1,465 passengers. The ship had 4 diesel engines, 2 propellers and traveled at a maximum speed of 15,5 knots for a maximum range of 12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km).
The German ship MV Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk on January 30th 1945 by the Soviet submarine S-13, a Stalinets-class submarine of the Soviet Navy, commanded by Soviet naval captain Alexander Ivanovich Marinesko.For this feat captain Marinesko received the Soviet Order of the Red Banner and was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union (posthumously, in May 1990).