Allied Atrocities: Killed while swimming

Published: 1989-01-01

Following are the events surrounding the sinking of the German ship, Erich Giese on 13 April 1940 by the British Navy. Captain Karl Smidt explained during his Paris deposition on 23 August 1940:

"While the crew of some 200 men was swimming in the water, the British destroyers opened fire against us with machine guns and cannons. Several times from the pressure in the water, I felt the explosion of a shell. However, I did not see anyone hit. The crew did suffer casualties through machine-gun fire, which was clearly identifiable by its whistling sound... Reports made to me by members of the crew after reaching land indicated that a number of soldiers had been hit. The civilian steward Masula was wounded by a shot that grazed his head, but the wound did not endanger his life. Several days after the battle the engine-man Ospelkaus was washed ashore, and we saw that he had been shot in the head, a wound which he could only have received in the water. Other reports submitted immediately after the battle clearly established that several soldiers were killed while swimming in the water. Those who had been swimming in their vicinity observed that their heads were suddenly all bloody and they ceased moving. According to undisputed testimony the British also directed heavy fire at the rafts, even one raft that had no oars and simply floated in the fjord. The British did take nine men prisoner from this raft."


Alfred M. de Zayas, The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London. 1989. p. 248-49


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Author(s): Alfred M. De Zayas
Title: Allied Atrocities: Killed while swimming
Sources: Alfred M. de Zayas, "The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945", University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London. 1989. p. 248f.
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Published: 1989-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1995, 7 p.m.
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