Armed destoyers were built for the German Navy from the mid-thirties. These all-purpose battleships, developed from the torpedo boats of the First World War, were deployed with great versatility during the War. Their area of responsibility ranged from escort duty for mine operations and for heavy naval warships through submarine chases, torpedo attacks and mine operations to the extensive task of keeping the coastline safe. And they were occasionally also deployed as fast troop carriers. Of approximately 40 destroyers, 27 were lost during the course of the war in enemy action. The last of them played an important part in the naval retreat operation via the Baltic Sea in 1944/45. It was in this way that approximately 2.5 million people were able to flee to the West. The German destroyers transported a multitude of refugees and simultaneously protected the transport carriers from both surface and underwater attacks right up until the final hour of the war.