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Watch The Sea Hunters online: Episode 5 The Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff

Just off the coast of Poland, deep beneath the icy waters of the Baltic, lie the torn remains of a German ocean liner. The vessel was to have been the salvation of thousands escaping the wrath of the advancing Soviet army, her dash to freedom cut short by three Russian torpedoes. Join the Sea Hunters as they explore the site of the greatest single shipwreck tragedy in history, the wreck of the Nazi liner Wilhelm Gustloff. Disaster at sea is a phrase that makes you think of great ocean liners, sinking with huge loss of life - tragedies like Lusitania, Empress of Ireland, and of course, Titanic. Ships whose death toll exceeded one thousand lives. But imagine a wreck that sank with five times the number of victims as Titanic. It was in the Baltic Sea at the end of the Second World War when a ship crammed with over ten thousand men, women and children, fleeing the advancing Russian Army sank carrying with it nine thousand of these refugees who became the forgotten victims of the largest maritime disaster in the history of the world. The Sea Hunters will be the first group to explore the wreck with the aim of publishing the findings. The team travels to the Gulf of Gdansk, where Wilhelm Gustloff's final voyage began. The Sea Hunters and researchers from the Polish Maritime Museum will sail to the wreck from the historic port of Gdansk. The Wilhelm Gustloff began her career as a public relations tool for the Nazi regime. Named after a martyr, the assassinated leader of the Swiss Nazi party, the Wilhelm Gustloff was built as a cruise ship for the German worker. The cruise ship career of the Willie G. as she was called came to an end when the war was declared. In 1940, she was assigned to a the newly captured Polish Port of Gdynia to serve as barracks for German U-boat submariners. In 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, a massive invasion of Russia by an army of approximately three million Germans. Germany had made a huge mistake by invading the Soviet Union. The Soviet winters and sheer ferocity of the resistance had been too much. The Germans were beaten back and forced to retreat to East Prussia, where they found themselves flanked by forces closing in on all sides. Panicked with nowhere to go millions of refugees mostly old men, women and children fled north to the Baltic. With the Soviets closing in, their most likely salvation would be to find ships that could carry them west over the Baltic and home to mother Germany. Thus, the Wilhelm Gustloff would take part in the largest sea evacuation operation in history. Join us again as we search the oceans of the world for lost and famous shipwrecks. Another true adventure with the Sea Hunters.

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