Sinking of the Struma, yet another tragedy at sea during WW2

In 1941, to escape the Rumanian massacres of both Russian and Rumanian Jewish people, a group of 778 Jews gathered on board the small ship Struma, only 43 metres long at Constansa. It took them three days to limp to Istambul where their pitiful engine gave in, the Turkish authorities would not allow the engine to be repaired, and the vessel remained in this port for 70 days. The only relief for the mass of Jews jammed aboard their cramped quarters without adequate sanitation, was a small amount of food and water supplied by the local Jewish community of Istambul.


Picture of Struma

Britain would not grant permission for this group of refugees to land in Palestine, they were stranded and desperate. Turkish police took control of this small vessel on the evening of the 23rd. of February in 1942, towed it into the Black Sea and set it adrift. With little food or water, crammed into this small craft the almost  800 Jews, were in a pitiful state, they drifted aimlessly all night, to be located the following morning by a Russian submarine, a torpedo was fired to quickly sink Struma. 269 women, 103 children and 406 men all died, there was but one survivor, David Stolier.

Expedition to Turkey in 2000, to try and locate Struma.
In August 2000, an expedition went off to Turkey to try and locate the wreck of Struma, survey the site, and dive on it. A number of different sites were dived upon down to a depth of 77 metres, over 9 days, but nothing definitive was discovered about Struma to actually claim the wreck was found.

Commemmorative Ceremony.
On the 2nd. of September 2000, 60 relatives of those who died in Struma, gathered with representatives of the Jewish community in Turkey, the Isreali Ambassador to Turkey, the envoy of the Israeli Prime Minister, the British Ambassadaor, and representatives from the US Embassy, all of whom went off to sea to remember the victims of this tragedy at sea in 1942.

Over the site believed to be the wreck of Struma in the Black Sea, a wreath was cast upon the waters, and the Israeli flag hoisted in their ship as part of the remembrance ceremony. That evening, a reception was hosted by the Rami M Koc Museum, and the Israeli Ambassador made the main speech. All those lost on that fateful morning of 1942 were remembered this day.

New book about Struma published in 2003.
A new book has just been published this year relating the sad story of the loss of almost 800 Jewish people when their ship was sunk by a torpedo from a Russian Submarine. This book, in its blurb, claims this tragedy was the greatest loss of civilian life at sea during WW2.

I do not believe that claim to be true, the Wilhelm Gustloff disaster in 1945, also sunk by a Russian Submarine claimed many more lives, both civilian and military than did the sinking of the Struma.

You may read the Wilhelm Gustloff story on my Ahoy site.

Pictures to come

Picture of Struma



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