Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

In May 2014 I wrote about Between the Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. See

Even though originally written for young adults, I found the book to be an intriguing look at the deportation of Lithuanians under the USSR.

In 2016 Sepetys wrote another book for young adult readers, Salt to the Sea, with a universal appeal.

The following link provides information about the novel:

A synopsis provides the East Prussia setting in the winter of 1945 and introduces the four characters- -all young–German, Polish, Lithuanian, and one who tries to hide his identity. The story surrounds the sinking of the Wilhelm Gusloff, the world’s greatest maritime disaster but little told story with 9,343 souls, almost all of them refugees, on board.

If you go to the Kindle preview, you will see the page that convinced me I had to “own” the book. Once past the multi-page Contents, you will see the wonderful “1945 Overview” map in the frontspiece of the book, a map of East Prussia and surrounding areas not published very often any more: Koningsberg, Insterburg, TIlsit, and Nemmersdorf in East Prussia and Kaunas and Vilnius, Lithuania, (the last two cities where I have been). I think you might have to buy the full version on the kindle to see the map at the back but it is the identical area with all of today’s names: the Russian ones in the Kalinigrad Oblast and the modern cities of Poland and Lithuania.

Be sure to check the Editorial Reviews and the Customer Reviews. The Related Media or Related Video Shorts has comments by the author herself.

Other great websites with identical or similar information include:

A few things struck me about the book:

A reference was made early on to a Red Army massacre of German civilians in Nemmersdorf, East Prussia. Norgallen, in the Nemmersdorf parish, Kreis Gumbinnen was one of the locations I had looked for Spurgats and found the family of Jurgis Spurgat in the mid 18th and early 19th century in August 2015 in Salt Lake. See Today Norgallen is known as Proletarskij; Nemmersdorf is known as Majakovskoe, both Kalinigrad Oblast, Russia.

A fellow West Prussian researcher has told me that he has stood on the shore of the Baltic Sea and looked out at the spot where the Wilhelm Gusloff sank. Many times debris from the ship has been washed upon the shore.

Sepetys received  the 2017 Carnegie Medal, the UK’s most prestigious children’s book awards for this book.

Once again, reading this book reminded me that the courage and stamina of my immigrant grandparents has given me a lot to be thankful for.

About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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