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Hitler's Lost State (Kindle)

The Fall of Prussia and the Wilhelm Gustloff Tragedy

WWII Hitler & the Third Reich Military

By Michela Cocolin, Tim Heath
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 41.1 MB (.mobi)
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781526756121
eBook Released: 10th May 2021

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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.

Hitler's Lost State to be well researched, detailed yet fascinating. The second part of the book, The Wilhelm Gustloff Tragedy was remarkably fresh to me. I had not realised the sinking of this German passenger liner by a Russian submarine was the greatest maritime loss of life ever. Once started I could not put this book down. It also details the transition of Prussia from being a pre WWII self-sufficient and prosperous area of Germany to its war's end dereliction, total destruction and ferocious treatment of German civilians, especially of women and girls, at the hands of the advancing Russians - chilling reading indeed.

Highly recommended.

Dr Adrian Greaves, The Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society

This well written book concludes with an account of the Russian “liberation” and their post-war ethnic cleansing of the region. Well worth reading.

World Ship Society - Marine News

A well written account of a little understood aspect of the Russian campaign.

The Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society

Now as most people will know, I do like a good Tim Heath book, in my opinion he is a fantastic author and by the way he writes he always brings the story of the events or time through to the reader through personal stories and recollections. This proves he knows who the right people to talk to and how to get the best information from them. For this book, he has co-authored this book with Michela Cocolin, who was able to bring her personal stories to the book and who did the larger share of the research needed for this book. This book looks at the way this German state was treated mainly between the inter war years to the end of the Second World War. The ethnic and racial cleansing of a nation showed how little the Nazi regime thought of the people of Prussia and caused much violence and suffering. In a tragic book, this was a very well told story of hardship and credit to all the information provided and those how gave themselves to the book through their stories. The contribution of both Heath and Cocolin has produced an excellent book and certainly a great book to recommend and read.

5 stars


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UK Historian

A tragic destiny that is re-examined in the beautiful book by Tim Heath and Michela Cocolin published by Pen & Sword.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

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.

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Phil Curme

A well written and absorbing book that pulls together the sad but inevitable end of the Prussian state. The authors focus on the loss of the Wilhelm Gustloff as a major incident in the overall and unequal struggle against Russia. Some maps would have been useful, particularly in describing the fighting at Konigsberg.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

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

Born in to a military family, Tim Heath’s interest in history led him to research the air war of the Second World War, focussing on the German Luftwaffe and writing extensively for The Armourer Magazine. During the course of his research he has worked closely with the German War Graves Commission at Kassel, Germany, and met with German families and veterans alike. Following the successful debut of Hitler’s GirlsThe Jungle War Against the Japanese will be Tim Heath’s latest contribution to retelling the heavily scrutinised Second World War from a fresh perspective.

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