In the recent article about Maersk’s acquisition of Hamburg-Sud Amerika (Maritime Log, February 2017 issue of Sea Breezes), there is mention of the latter’s liner Cap Arcona.
It attributes her sinking - loaded with concentration camp prisoners - to the Soviet Air Force. The liner was, in fact, sunk by the Royal Air Force.
It happened three days after Hitler’s suicide and one day before German surrender to the Allies. The International Red Cross had passed information to senior British military officers that the Cap Arcona and the other ships with her, although not carrying Red Cross markings, were in fact packed below decks with prisoners (it has been alleged that the SS intended to sink them and drown the prisoners).
This information was not passed on to the RAF and the ships were bombed in order to prevent them being used as escape vessels for top Nazis, as German forces were still in control of Norway. This was, in fact, impossible as none of the vessels were in a condition to make such a passage.
Over 5,000 lost their lives on the Cap Arcona, and over 2,000 on the Thielbeck and others. Most SS personnel present were rescued. Such happens in war.
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