German ship Totila

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Nazi Germany
Name: Totila[1]
Namesake: Totila[1]
Acquired: Spring 1944[2]
In service: May 1944[2]
Fate: sunk 10 May 1944 off Cape Khersones by Soviet aircraft[2]
General characteristics
Displacement: 3600 tons[2]
Propulsion: 4 Ganz-Jendrasik 8cyl. 4stroke diesel engines, 4 generators, 2 electric motors[2]
Armament: 3 × 3.7 cm (1.46 in) and 6 × 2 cm (0.79 in) AA guns[2]

Totila was a German cargo ship, which sank on 10 May 1944 near Khersones, during the Axis evacuation of the Crimea, killing up to 5,000 German and Romanian soldiers.

The Totila was the former Hungarian cargo ship Magyar Vitez, built in 1942 and confiscated by the Germans in 1944.

In 1944, the 17th Army was cut off by the Red Army in the Crimean Peninsula. At first, Hitler didn't allow the 235,000 German and Romanian troops to be evacuated over sea but on 11 April the evacuation began.

Together with the Teja, the Totila reached Khersones on 10 May and both ships were immediately loaded with German and Romanian soldiers and then headed back to Constanța. They survived a first attack by a formation of 20 Soviet aircraft, but at 09:30, Totila was hit by three bombs during a second attack by 21 Soviet planes. The ship, with 3,000 Germans and 2,000 Romanians on board, sank very fast. Teja and the escort ships couldn't stop to help the survivors. At 14:45, a new formation of 11 A-20s appeared and hit the Teja, which sank with some 4,000 men on board. The three escort ships saved some 400 men and continued the trip to Constanța.

The claim that most soldiers saved themselves by swimming back ashore is very unlikely. The exact number of casualties will never be known, but the sinking of these two ships is one of the greatest maritime disasters of all time. In total, some 8,000 men might have lost their lives in this incident.[citation needed]

The shipwreck of the Totila was found in May 2003 by the divers near Sevastopol.


  1. ^ a b Gröner 1993.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Gröner 1993, p. 119.
  • Gröner, Erich (1993). Flußfahrzeuge, Ujäger, Vorpostenboote, Hilfsminensucher, Küstenschutzverbände (Teil1). Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe, 1815-1945. VIII/1 (Bonn: Bernard&Graefe). ISBN 3763748075. 

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