Hospital Ship – Lazarettschiff C (The Stuttgart)
|The Stuttgart as Hospital Ship “C” in 1939|
Mar 29, 1923: Launched.
Jan 4, 1924: Commissioned.
Jan 15, 1924: Maiden voyage, Bremerhaven-New York.
1930: Transferred to the Far East for trade service.
1938: Sold to the DAF for use as a KdF ship (Strength through Joy). Management continued under North German Lloyd.
May 1939: The Stuttgart sailed with the KdF ships Robert Ley, Der Deutsche, Wilhelm Gustloff, and Sierra Cordoba, and the non-KdF ship Oceana. They were taking part in the transport of the Legion Condor from Spain back to Germany after the successful defeat of the Republican forces by Franco’s Nationalists.
May 24, 1939: The ships of the transport fleet arrived in Vigo, Spain, and unloaded large amounts of medical supplies and other materials that were given to the Spanish Social Help organization.
May 26, 1939: The Legion Condor loaded on the ships of the transport fleet in Vigo harbor. The Stuttgart took on 793 men.
May 30, 1939: The ships, including the Stuttgart, arrived in German waters and were escorted into Hamburg harbor by a number of German vessels, including the yacht Hamburg and the armored ships Admiral Graf Spee and Admiral Scheer.
Aug 23, 1939: Commissioned into the Kriegsmarine as Lazarettschiffe”C”.
1939-1943: At some point, served in Norway. Listed as having the Field Post Number 17041.
Oct 9, 1943: Sunk by American planes during the first Allied air raid on Gotenhafen (Gdynia), after being bombed. The Stuttgart was quickly engulfed in flames while filled with wounded at the time – very few survived. The burning wreck was towed out of the harbor and sunk with the bodies of the victims still on board. The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau (the organization tasked with recording any and all allegations and acts considered crimes against German soldiers), determined that this horrific tragedy was in fact not a war crime because the Stuttgart was partially camouflaged while at anchor. To be considered a war crime, according to the rules of the Hague Convention, when the Stuttgart was attacked it would have had to have been free of any camouflage, even while at anchor – although the Stuttgart was unarmed and did have Red Cross markings displayed on its decks at the time of the attack.