It was the Wilhelm Gustloff, which went down in the Baltic Sea on January 30, 1945. On board were German soldiers as well as civilians who were escaping from the Soviet Army as they marched across Lithuania and East Prussia.
Ruta Sepetys has created a novel that will bring this event out of relative obscurity. It is called Salt to the Sea. In this novel, there are four main characters and their stories are told together in alternating short chapters. Joana is a Lithuanian woman who has been trained as a nurse. She has a family connection to the characters in Sepetys other historical fiction story, which is called Between Shades of Gray. Florian is East Prussian and has been working as a apprentice to the art conservator in Konigsberg and is carrying something in his pack that he will not let out of his sight. Emilia is a young Polish girl with a secret of her own. And Alfred is a German youth who has been drafted very late in the war to serve as a sailor in the Kriegsmarine. He dreams of glory that is unlikely to come his way.
This is such an important and interesting book and it deserves to be studied and enjoyed. So I've created a novel study that might help teachers and homeschoolers to work with this book.
Salt to the Sea - A novel study has a lot of content, including:
-- A character tracker that invites students to reflect upon the three different types of literary conflict and potentially write an essay sharing their findings,
-- An information skills lesson that helps students to identify an author's purpose in publishing Web information,
-- Discussion or essay questions
-- And a comprehension quiz,
It also has a Google Earth Tour Builder lesson that brings to life the journey of these four characters. You can access this Tour Builder for free.
And because it is so much easier to teach something when students have a something to help them orient their learning, I have created a FREE Google Doc lesson with a location chart as well as an answer key. Feel free to view, make a copy, and use.