Operation Hannibal

Operation Hannibal

Operation Hannibal

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Operation Hannibal was a German military operation involving the evacuation by sea of German troops and civilians from Courland, East Prussia, and the Polish Corridor from mid-January to May, 1945 as the Red Army advanced during the East Prussian and East Pomeranian Offensives and subsidiary operations.

The Soviet East Prussian Offensive by 3rd Belorussian Front under Army General Ivan Chernyakhovsky commenced on January 13, 1945 and, with Marshal of the Soviet Union Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front, subsequently cut off Prussia between January 23 and February 10, 1945. German Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz ordered General Admiral Oskar Kummetz, as Naval High Commander, Baltic, and Rear Admiral Konrad Engelhardt, head of the Kriegmarine's shipping department, to plan and execute the Rettungsaktion (evacuation operation).Koburger, Charles W., Steel Ships, Iron Crosses, and Refugees, Praeger Publishers, NY, 1989, p.71. Donitz radioed a message to Gdynia in occupied Poland on January 23, 1945, to begin evacuations to ports outside of the Soviet area of operations. The operation was codenamed "Hannibal". Dönitz stated in his post-war memoirs that his aim had been to evacuate as many people as possible away from the Soviets.Dönitz, Karl, Memoirs, Ten Years and Twenty Days, Da Capo Press, NY, 1997.

Right up until his suicide, Adolf Hitler insisted that the war go on. The flood of military personnel and refugees eventually...
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