768 people, expecting to reach heaven, lost their lives in the freezing waters of the Black Sea, instead
On February 24th, 1942, Struma vessel that was carrying 768 Jewish refugees sank off the coast of Black Sea after being torpedoed. The 768 victims of this disaster were commemorated at a ceremony held at Sarayburnu.
At the ceremony Salom’s Chief Editor Ivo Molinas gave the opening speech. Molinas stated that Struma that was kept waiting in the sea at the coast of Istanbul “was stuck between the interests of two factions of the war”. For the 768 victims who lost their lives, Molinas said “While they were expecting to reach heaven, they lost their lives in the freezing and perishing waters of the Black Sea.”
“In the name of humanity, it will be a meaningful conduct for all countries including ours to face what they did, what they didn’t, and couldn’t do at the Struma disaster.” said Molinas.
Following Molinas’ speech, Istanbul Mayor Vasip Sahin gave a speech. Sahin said that Turkey had permitted more than 20 vessels to use the Straits for passage and enabled over six thousand Jews reach Palestinian land.
Mayor Sahin reminded the audience that during Holocaust, majority of the world kept silent while refugees suffered tremendous tragedies and abandoned them to their fate. Sahin also emphasized that today, as millions of refugees try to survive in challenging conditions, countries must unite in the name of humanity.
Following the speeches, Rabbi Izak Peres recited Kaddish for the victims of Struma disaster and victims of similar disasters. At the end of the ceremony, in commemoration of the victims, Mayor Vasip Sahin and Leader of Turkish Jewish Community Ishak Ibrahimzadeh laid wreath of flowers to the sea.