Thursday, October 17, 2013

Arcona & Thielbek.

This is coolbert:

Yet more "Hell Ships".

It seems this subject regrettably so is an never-ending study.

From a variety of sources and the original article in the Jerusalem Post we have the story of the Arcona and Thielbek.

German merchant vessels crammed full of concentration camp victims at that absolute end of the war [only one day before German surrender, WW2] sunk as the result of Allied action, attack by English Typhoon ground attack aircraft. Loss of life horrendous and almost total, without amelioration, the victims perishing in a horrible manner just as liberation was close at hand.

 "The friendly fires of hell" by Robert J. White-Harvey

 "7,000 Holocaust survivors were inadvertently killed by the UK a day before Germany surrendered."

"On May 3, 1945 - in the worst friendly-fire incident in history - Britain's Royal Air Force killed more than 7,000 survivors of Nazi concentration camps who were crowded onto ships in Lubeck harbor, Germany. The ragged masses that had survived the Holocaust stood no chance against the guns of their liberators. This tragic mistake occurred one day before the British accepted the surrender of all German forces in the region."

Among the victims we find a wide variety of nationalities and violators of Nazi fascist law, persons deemed as "enemies" of the Reich worthy of death.

"The prisoners were from at least 30 nationalities: American, Belarussian, Belgian, Canadian, Czechoslovakian, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luxembourger, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swiss, Ukrainian, Yugoslavian and others."

"Most of the inmates were Jews and Russian POWs, but they also included communist sympathizers, pacifists, Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, prostitutes, Gypsies and other perceived enemies of the Third Reich."

Of the Cap Arcona:

"The Cap Arcona was a large German luxury ocean liner, formerly of the Hamburg-South America line. It transported passengers between Germany and South America until 1940 when it was taken over by the German Navy."

"Late in the war, the ship was used for the evacuation of Germans from East Prussia. While heavily-laden with prisoners from Nazi concentration camps, she was sunk in 1945 by the Royal Air Force. About 5,000 people died. The sinking of the Cap Arcona was one of the biggest single-incident maritime losses of life during the war and, as such, one of the largest maritime losses of life in history."

The Arcona having participated in Hannibal and emerged unscathed, nonetheless with only a day to go in the European war the vessel sunk, that loss of life immense.

And of Thielbek:

"The Thielbek was a 2,815 GRT freighter that was sunk along with the SS Cap Arcona and the SS Deutschland during British air raids on May 3, 1945 while anchored in the Bay of Lübeck with the loss of 2,750 lives."

British resoluteness in pressing the attack rather strange at this point of the war? It has been suggested that the two ships carried large contingents of SS men and Gestapo planning to flee to either Sweden or Norway? Using the concentration camp victims as human shields it might be supposed.

The English had prior advance warning of these ships sailing from Ultra intelligence and the decision was made for aerial bombardment to prevent escape of potential war criminals, human shields as on board the Arcona and Thielbek either not a consideration or the presence of same not known?

Those Japanese "Hell Ships" of the Pacific theatre well known. Less well know is  Operation Hannibal. Beyond that the Mediterranean "Hell Ships" carrying Italian POW [and also sunk by allied action] even less well known while Arcona and Thielbek practically non-entities for the historians.

Those Typhoon pilots at that exact moment not knowing the Arcona and Thielbek carry concentration camp victims this not to be deemed as gratuitous slaughter or and allied war crime.


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