82nd Anniversary of the Struma Disaster

The Struma Immigration Ship had sailed from Constanza, Romania to take the Jews desperate to run from the Nazis to today´s Israel, and was sunk by a torpedo from a Russian submarine after anchoring off the coast of Istanbul for weeks.
82nd Anniversary of the Struma Disaster

It was the year 1941. When 4000 Jews in Romania's Iassy city had been brutally murdered by the Nazis, the Jews in Romania had no other choice but to try to flee to Palestine. So the Struma, which sailed from Constanza in Romania on December 12th, 1941, with around 790 Jewish immigrants running away from the Nazis and 10 crew members, headed for Palestine, today's Israel.

The refugees boarded the Struma paying all the wealth they had. However, the old cargo barge was suitable to carry no more than 150 passengers. When the ship's engine broke down and couldn't be fixed, the refugees wanted to take shelter in Istanbul but couldn't disembark because of the war conditions of the time. Nazi Germany of the time pressuring Ankara politically had prevented the people on the ship to disembark.

A few passengers with expired Palestine visas were able to disembark with the approval of the UK government and the intermediary of some important people.

There was an acute shortage of food and drinking water, despite help provided by the Jewish community of Istanbul. The passengers suffered from cold, filth, and hunger.

Despite the despairing appeals of the captain, the ship was unable to continue on its way and was towed into the Black Sea on February 23rd, 1942. On the morning of February 24th, the ship that had drifted all night long went down into the dark waters of the Black Sea with a mighty explosion.

768 refugees of whom 103 were children were dead. Only a 20-year-old passenger named David Stoliar and the second captain named Ivanof Diko could survive the disaster.

For many years it was not known why the ship had sunk. In the light of documents found in the Soviet archives in the 1960s, it was understood that the Struma was torpedoed and sunk by the Soviet submarine Shch-213.

The official commemoration ceremony, which had been organized and attended by state officials in Sarayburnu since 2015, was not held this year. 

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