Hitler hoped to prolong the war with the countries of the anti-Nazi coalition for an indefinitely long period, during which, according to the Fuhrer's aspirations, this not too organic bloc was bound to happen, which allowed Germany to make peace with the Anglo-Saxons and the French in the West and continue the war in the East against the USSR .
In January, 1945, the Soviet troops, developing a powerful offensive deep into the Nazi Reich, laid siege to Danzig - the ancient Polish city of Gdansk. In this ancient citadel, turned by the Nazis into a stronghold of their dominance in the Privislinsky region and the Baltic, in addition to a powerful military grouping, the color of Hitler's official elite was cut off - all kinds of Fuhrers, leytery, commissioners, who led the plundering and Germanization of the Slavic lands.
And here was based 2-I training division of submarines Reichsmarine. In January, 1945, within its walls, were preparing to lay life on the altar of devotion to the Fuhrer and the Faterland 3700 "blond beasts". They dreamed of perpetuating their name with exploits, like those that their predecessors had committed, immigrants from the same alma mater Gunter Prien (in 1940, he sent the most powerful English battleship Royal Oak to the bottom, and destroyed the 28 of enemy ships) and Otto Kretschmer (broke the absolute record of performance, sinking the 44 merchant ship and the 1 destroyer). The already formed crews transported to Kiel and Flensburg were to take places in the 123 compartments of the newest XXI series submarines launched, equipped with snorkel - a device for recharging batteries in a submerged position, which sharply increased the autonomy and secrecy of navigation.
Underwater Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz were Hitler's last hope. They had to implement a plan of total submarine warfare.
Suddenly firing on the sea communications between the Old and New Worlds (instead of destroyed by the Anglo-American anti-submarine defense during the Battle of the Atlantic) more than three dozen fresh wolf packs of submarines, each of which had an ammunition torpedoes 20 and navigation autonomy to 16 000 miles , the Fuhrer hoped to block England, disrupt the supply of troops landed in Europe and gain the time needed for the collapse of the anti-Hitler coalition. Considering the brilliant technical data of the XXI series boats and the seriousness of the combat training of German corsairs of the sea depths, this plan posed a serious threat to the lives of thousands of allies.
The question of evacuating the Danzig school of the submarine, whose graduates were primarily entrusted to this fateful mission by Hitler, was specifically discussed at one of the January meetings in his bunker.
From 1942, the school was located on the huge Wilhelm Gustlov passenger liner that was built in the port of Danzig, originally built for cruise trips of the Nazi elite from the Reich to the Canaries, and with the start of World War II, it was converted into a floating barracks for Hitler’s favorites .
The whole of Germany was proud of the ship. It was not by chance that he was given the name of a prominent leader of the Nazi Party, who enjoyed the special trust of the leader and created assault troops like the SA from local Germans in Switzerland.
In 1936, Gustlov shot dead the anti-fascist Yugoslav. The Fuhrer specially came to Hamburg on 1938 for celebrations of the descent of a ship named for an ally. He himself chose the name of the tourist liner, which was supposed to personify the power and perfection of the “thousand-year-old Reich”, and in an hourly “fiery” speech expressed the overwhelming genuine admiration for him with the masterpiece of “Aryan” shipbuilding, created according to its designs.
Admitted, admittedly, was what. The 9-deck giant is almost two hundred meters long, with a 15-storey house divided by bulkheads into countless compartments, except for hundreds of comfortable cabins with restaurants, a winter garden, a swimming pool, a gymnasium. Displacement 25 thousand tons! Few giants, equal to "Gustlov", plow the ocean expanses today.
And this superliner, having on board about 100 crews of submariners, over 4 000 additionally taken on board by high-ranking officials, generals and officers of the SS and the Wehrmacht (more than 8 000 passengers), with all the precautions at noon 30 January 1945 year off the berth wall and went to sea ...
On the same day, in the 20 hours of 10 minutes, the Soviet submarine C-13 commanded by the captain of the 3 rank Alexander Marinesko cruising in the gulf of Danzig waiting for targets for a torpedo attack surfaced to recharge the batteries.
She belonged to the family of submarines of the C IX-bis series, built on the eve of World War II, and in its characteristics was much inferior to the Hitler submarines of the XXI series, specially created for operations in the World Ocean. "Esca" had a displacement of 870 tons, cruising range 10 000 miles, autonomy 30 days, depth to 100 meters. Its armament consisted of 6 torpedo tubes (4 nasal and 2 fodder), 100-mm cannon and 45-mm semi-automatic. But Soviet designers did not invent the snorkel, and this created a lot of difficulties in the “autonomous system”.
... Already 17 days lasted campaign. The area set aside for cruising was huge: from Bornholm to the lighthouse Brewsterort 150 miles - the width of the area, and to the throat of Danzig Bay to the depth of 40 miles. Try, examine it quickly, and most importantly, carefully ... As luck would have it, the whole trip did not abate the storm.
With great difficulty, the boatswain managed to keep the boat in balance for a minute or two, while the commander hastily pressed down to the periscope. And at night there was an extremely dangerous recharge of batteries on the boom station.
So - day after day. Monotone, tedious. On-board magazine "eski" sparingly testified: "January 17. From the bulletin of the Soviet Information Bureau we learned about the offensive of the troops of the 1 of the Belarusian Front south of Warsaw. The crew was delighted ... Storm about 9 points. At night, several sailors fell out of their beds. In the morning we plunged, then lay down on the ground. Although the depth of 50 meters, the boat pumps great ...
18 January. Surfaced in 00. 40. The storm continues. A huge wave nearly washed over the midshipman Toropov. The senior sailor Yurov restrained him ... From a radio message we learned about the liberation of Warsaw by our troops ...
20 January. Due to bad weather we rarely emerge under the periscope. No transports were found ... Deep-earth bomb explosions are heard ... ”
An experienced submariner, these explosions said a lot. The commander of the ship knew that the command of other submarines did not send to the area assigned to him to search. This means that the distant ruptures of the “hinterlands” are not at all a sign that the fascists are “chasing” some of his battle friends across the Baltic, are pursuing the discovered submarine. No, preventive bombing is underway. If so, the big game will soon go - ships of large displacement, accompanied by destroyers and torpedo boats, maybe a cruiser ...
- Get ready, friends! - the commander encouraged sailors. “My heart feels, a convoy is about to go.” It will be a hot deal!
But days are replaced by days, but there is no serious purpose ...
"January 26-27. Strongly shakes, sometimes puts the boat on board under 45 degrees. Storm over 8 points. Frost. Antenna, racks, deck covered with solid ice. The shaft of air supply to diesel engines during immersion passes water until the ice on its cover does not thaw. From the operational report, we learned about the withdrawal of our troops on the coast of Danzig Bay, ”the radio operator wrote in the logbook.
The sea is quiet. And in the souls of submariners - not calm, no, a storm rages. More than a crescent into the sea, and the enemy also did not see on the horizon, they did not release any of the 12 torpedoes! People are waiting for business!
And the encryption from the headquarters fleet warms the excitement: “To the commanders of submarines at sea. In connection with the beginning of the offensive of our troops, the Nazis are expected to flee from Koenigsberg and Danzig. First of all, to attack large warships and transports of the enemy ... ”But where is this enemy?
Navigator Nikolay Redkoborod bezdolazno "conjures" in his enclosure over the map, continually clicking the stopwatch and the engine of the counting line. His job is to count such courses that would allow in a short time to fully explore the entire area. This is not an easy thing - you need to take into account all the shoals, banks, sunken ships that come across. It is necessary to remember all the errors arising from inaccurate holding by the helmsman of a given course, from the loss of speed during ascent.
"C-13" was lucky to navigator. Lieutenant Redkoborod - the best specialist in the brigade "esok", in 1943-m masterfully conducted the submarine Yuriy Russina "M-90" on the Gulf of Finland, stuffed with minefields and anti-submarine networks. But whatever experience was behind them, is it not enough in a turbulent sea of interference, holding in constant tension?
The engineer-mechanic of the boat, Yakov Kovalenko, also had a hard time. For him, it was the first campaign as an independent commander of a combat unit (the previous BC commander, Georgy Dubrovsky, was sent to study at the academy). From the previous voyages with Dubrovsky, the young officer understood the main thing: it is necessary to strictly control the watch keeping by electricians, the movement of the boat under water with the help of electric motors depends on them. But not to forget the holds, they would not have made mistakes, especially during the dive and ascent stages. In the hands of sailors - the life of the ship ...
But the hardest for the boat commander. He is responsible for the success of the campaign, for the combat result. They are disturbed by its Baltic depths, which are stuffed with mines at different levels - bottom and anchor. How to maneuver, if you have to evade the depth bombs of the enemy guard, do not hurt the minenders in passing?
And here they are also overcome by sad thoughts about their own life. After all, during the campaign, Alexander Ivanovich was sent to wash away the sin that had been committed. On the night under the New, 1945 year "cap three" spree "little" in the Finnish city of Turku. I went to a restaurant with a friend, drank a glass ... In general, I returned to the base two days later.
The disappearance of a Soviet officer in a foreign port, and even a love affair with a citizen of another state at that time was a matter of jurisdiction, they were exiled to the penal battalion and not for that. Threatened the tribunal and Marinesko. He was saved only by the reputation of the class professional of the underwater war (in October 1944 of the year in the bay of Danzig his “esque” was sunk by enemy vehicles with a displacement of 5000 tons, and having shot all the torpedoes, he dared to ascend and destroy the enemy with the fire of the nose gun) teeming in the commander and chest standing up to his defense. The command decided not to wash dirty linen in public, and while the proceedings were going on, they quietly sent the boat with the defeated officer on a campaign. But soon this silence responded with a resonant resonance ...
In the evening of January 30, having received the next radiogram of the fleet headquarters, where they spoke about the beginning evacuation of the Nazis, Alexander Ivanovich made a desperately bold decision: to go straight to Danzig harbor and watch the enemy exit.
After an 40 minute rush to the target, surfaced to recharge the power supply. The stormy winter Baltic met with huge ramparts, heavily waddling through the narrow hull of the boat and pouring myriads of prickly splashes, snow charges that flew suddenly and tightly — you can't see it. And when this cold-burning whirlwind broke for an instant, the watchman, Anatoly Vinogradov, shouted with excitement:
- Lights! Straight on the nose!
The fireflies, blinking in the distance, could not belong to the coastal lighthouses - far away, moreover, they were not lit during wartime. So, the goal! And then sounded:
- Battle alarm!
The howlers howled horribly. "C-13" went into the "attack of the century."
Standing on the bridge under the gusts of a mad wind, Marinesko frantically thought out a plan of action. It is clear that the lights detected by the signalman are no less than one ship. Just what is it - a large warship, transport, or some small fry, on which it is a pity to waste torpedoes? Until you get close - you will not determine. But if you follow the rules, first plunging, in a submerged position, the boat will lose speed by half. And if it is not a dry cargo ship, a slug, but a swift liner? Do not catch up ... Besides, from the periscope depth in such a storm you will not see anything, and the boatswain will not keep the boat at a torpedo salvo - it throws like a wave! So, one thing remains: to catch up and attack on the surface ...
He rose from the bottom of society (his father was a Romanian sailor, and his mother was a Ukrainian peasant), who grew up on the outskirts of Odessa in a family with very modest incomes and made his way to the navigators of the merchant fleet with remarkable will and great diligence. Marinesko was not afraid of responsible decisions.
Only a constant attitude to the maximum allowed him to become unsurpassed among the Baltic sailors as an ace of underwater warfare, after he became commander of the “baby” submarine in the 1939 year, and after the command of the 4, he received an “esque”.
- Navigator, night sight! - Marinesko ordered. - We shoot from the surface, nasal! We go under the diesel engines! Develop full speed!
Soon hydroacoustics reported that, judging by the noise of the propellers, the still invisible target with a displacement pulls on the cruiser.
“And what if you attack from the coast? - a crazy thought arose from the boat commander. - They do not expect attacks from there, from their own! Surely not waiting! There is a coastal aviation, batteries of forts ... They believe that the rear is covered! From there and beat! "
Alexander Ivanovich was aware of the risk he was taking when he decided to cross the course of the enemy convoy and choose a position to attack from the coastline. If you find - neither turn away nor dive (the depth will not allow). True death ...
A cup of doubt finally outweighed the report of Alexander Volkov, the experienced pilot-signalman of the 1 article, who had been summoned to the bridge, who had the rare ability to see at night as night. Looking into binoculars at the lights flashing in the snow-haze, he confidently reported:
- The destroyer is ahead! Behind him - the liner!
For a moment, the snow suddenly stopped falling, and Marinesko, with a sinking heart, convinced that they had overtaken the huge motor ship, exclaimed, referring to the tonnage of the target:
- Thousand to twenty, no less!
Now - away from doubt! Their patience is rewarded. A little more, and a torpedo salvo ...
Suddenly, the liner bearing began to change. A red rocket asterisk flashed over the destroyer that was going before the ship. “Really found? Does the destroyer signal that it is attacking? ”- shot out in the brain.
- Urgent immersion! Boatswain, dive on 20 meters! - ordered the commander of the "C-13".
The boat slid down under heavy breathing masses of waves. The last sharp swinging from side to side, and now only the small, quivering pitching reminds of a storm raging above ... Outboard noise intensified, even through steel of a strong hull the rumble of huge ship-propellers can be heard.
The liner seems to pass right overhead. So I want to duck. But since the provinces did not fly, it means that the enemy did not find them ...
Ascent! The boat, picking up the course, again rose above the waves. At the afterburner, having developed 18 units, which were impossible for eski, and risking disrupting diesel engines, Marinesko overtook the outgoing target. It was a desperate, almost doomed effort — the probability of a happy outcome was not even a hundredth of a percent. If the Germans find them, and even lose their turn, they will be smashed into chips instantly. But he believed in his star ...
Hour, the second unparalleled chase. And now you can call out into the negotiation tube:
- A senior mate, calculate the number of torpedoes in the salvo!
As soon as this command sounded, suddenly a signal spotlight from the liner danced along the cabin of the boat, writing out dots and dashes. Opponent asked him for call signs! And you need to win a few more minutes to get ready!
- Knock him something! Anything! - Marinesko ordered.
The signalman Ivan Antipov calmly signaled the enemy a short salty mot, and ... Oh, a miracle! The German calmed down! It turned out that the nazis took the soviet board aboard the soviet boat for their torpedoles assigned to the convoy. Psychologically explainable. If someone answers, does not try to hide, it means his own! Insolence, but how prudent ...
In 23. 08 Marinesko finally ordered:
- Devices, fire!
Three swift strips from the Eskie bow ran to the tall side of the liner. Before his dive into the abyss, no more 15 minutes remained ...
All this time, Alexander Ivanovich and his comrades, without even fearing approaching enemy escort ships and not hiding in the depths of the sea, eagerly watched the Gustlov agony from the bridge. The naked eye could see a dark mass turning around on the tilting deck in the flames of a fire - the crew and passengers in a panic hurried to the sides to throw themselves into the icy Baltic ... Retribution is cruel but fair: the sea abyss swallowed up its corsairs, failed pries and creamers ...
The convoy ships saved only 988 of the Nazis, among them there were fewer submariners than one crew. The assistant to the captain of the liner Heinz Shen, who survived bathing in the Baltic water, wrote many years later in his book The Death of Wilhelm Gustlov: “This was undoubtedly the biggest disaster in stories the seafaring, compared to which even the death of the Titanic, which had collided with an iceberg in 1912, is nothing. ”
After the sinking of the giant ship Marinesko 4, the hours went away from the pursuit of enemy destroyers, then climbing right to the place of his death, where drowning was still floundering and it was dangerous to jam the water mass with depth charges and then perform clever maneuvers. In the end, he sailed close to the German coast and put the boat on the ground.
After 10 days, acting just as boldly and deliberately, Alexander Ivanovich sank the German auxiliary cruiser “General von Steuben” with a 15 000 ton displacement, carrying the Wehrmacht officers from the Kurland 3600 boiler.
Marinesko did not yet know that Hitler had a rare honor by declaring him - the boat commander, who had sunk the "Wilhelm Gustlov" - an enemy of the Reich and his personal enemy. Of course, there would have been a sea plan buried on the Baltic bottom, which would give a chance for the postponement of the collapse of the “thousand-year-old” Aryan empire.
In Germany, three-day mourning was declared, all members of the Nazi Party and other functionaries put on mourning bands. In the history of the Reich, something similar happened only once - after the death of Paulus 6-th army in Stalingrad.
5 May 1990 The President of the USSR, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, signed a decree awarding the title of Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously to Captain 3 of the rank of Marinesko. How did it happen that his merits were appreciated after almost half a century?
Upon returning to the base, the commander of the "C-13" really presented to the title of Hero. But vigilant personnel officers clutched at his head: “Excuse me, is this the same Marinesco? ..” Envious and ill-wishers, whom the people of such a warehouse as Aleksandr Ivanovich — independent, courageous, going against the circumstances — always in abundance, began to spread gossip about him, that he conceited, drank heavily, etc.
In September of the same victorious year, the Führer’s personal enemy, ordered by the People’s Commissar of the Navy “for omissions in personal behavior,” was demoted to a senior lieutenant, deactivated and sent down to the Tallinn defensive area, commander of a small minesweeper. A few months later he was dismissed from the Armed Forces.
After becoming civil, Marinesko soon shook the term in Kolyma on the absurd accusation of the alleged embezzlement of socialist property that he allegedly committed. Having undermined his health in exhausting sea campaigns and at the Kolyma penal servitude, after his release, Alexander Ivanovich was in dire poverty.
The Soviet state paid a meager pension to the submarine hero, and he lived out his life in a St. Petersburg communal apartment. In 1963, Marinesco passed away. He was a little older than 50 ...
Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union N.G. Kuznetsov prophetically wrote: “History knows many cases when heroic deeds committed on the battlefield remain in the shadows for a long time, and only descendants evaluate them according to merit. It also happens that during the war years major events are not given due importance, reports of them are doubted and evaluated by people much later. Such a fate befell the Baltic submariner A.I. Marinesco.