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Hitler's Lost State (Hardback)

The Fall of Prussia and the Wilhelm Gustloff Tragedy

WWII Hitler & the Third Reich Military

By Michela Cocolin, Tim Heath
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 192
Illustrations: 40 black and white
ISBN: 9781526756107
Published: 29th October 2020


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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 the one 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.

Indeed, a key strength of this book is the breadth and quality of personal testimony that is quoted – particularly that of civilians who were involved in the final denouement. The authors sets out to describe the chaotic end to German hegemony in an area of Europe now largely encompassed by North East Poland and an outpost of Russia, which they do extremely well.

Read the full review here

Phil Curme

About Michela Cocolin

MICHELA COCOLIN is an Italian-German national living in West Sussex. After completing secondary school in Italy, she moved to the UK, gaining qualifications in English Language Teaching, Creative Writing and Computer Studies. Michela taught evening classes for fifteen years and more recently has been involved in music education and music-related social media administration. Michela is a keen amateur musician and a life member of the London Cello Society.

She has also a deep interest in German history, particularly with regard to the German Resistance and events that led to the collapse of Prussia, which have strong family connections. 

About Tim Heath

TIM HEATH was born into a military family. Following the successful debut of Hitler’s Girls, Tim has published a number of titles, expertly ‘shining a light’ on the overlooked parts of an otherwise heavily scrutinised period of modern history.

More titles by Tim Heath

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