This is a well-wrought, World War II drama with a pacifist message, centered on the sinking of the German cruise ship "Wilhelm Gustloff" in the Baltic Sea on January 31, 1945. The luxury liner had just taken on 6,000 refugees from the area of eastern Prussia, under invasion by Russian forces and soon to change hands in the war. Most of the refugees were women and children and only 928 survived the Russian submarine attack. Although the sinking of the ship is the most dramatic sequence in this film by director Frank Wisbar, the refugees and their lot are also explored at length. In one sequence, a Jewish refugee is discovered and brutally brought under arrest, bringing the larger issues of the conflict back into focus for a moment.
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