An Incredible Rescue Against All Orders

U-3505 and the Children of Hela

Author: Robert Wortmann

Length: 50'

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Between January and May 1945 one of the largest naval rescue operations ever took place. 790 ships were involved: they sailed from the besieged ports of East Prussia, crammed with desperate refugees. The voyage across the Baltic Sea presented a deadly risk. Enemy submarines, aircraft and mines made every westbound voyage a suicide mission. There is, however, one aspect of this evacuation drama that has found little mention until today: the fate of some 40 German submarines and their crews. Acting against explicit orders, their commanders rescued many children, adolescents, women and babies from the inferno of Danzig and Hela before they sank their own submarines. Horst, Ursula and Barbara Willner, Guenter Schulz, and Fritz Deutschmann are the names of the protagonists in this story about U-3505. 24-year-old naval officer Horst Willner was the captain of this submarine, one of the feared XXL class. He used the most advanced submarine model of that time to rescue women, children and adolescents. The eye witnesses shall shed light on the little-known destiny of some 40 German submarines which, acting against all orders, evacuted many babies, children and women from the war-ravaged areas of East Prussia. Almost sixty years after the voyage of U-3505, one of the last submarines to leave the besieged town of Gotenhafen, the survivors of this adventure meet again for the first time. The former crews and evacuees meet in Hamburg.

year of production: 2006


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