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August 10, 2022

Commemoration of 80 years since “Struma” ship sinking, when 769 Jews died

The Israeli Ambassador to Romania, David Saranga, and the Chief of the Romanian Naval Forces, Rear Admiral Mihai Panait, threw wreaths in the Black Sea and unveiled a commemorative plaque in the Port of Constanta, during a ceremony on Tuesday, organized in commemoration of the more than 760 Romanian Jews who died when the “Struma” ship sank in 1942.

“We are 80 years after the tragedy of the ship called “Struma,” which sank with 769 Jews on board, all of them losing their lives. They thought they escaped, they wanted to go to Israel, after the pogrom in Iasi, after the pogrom in Bucharest, after the deportations to Transnistria. They knew that the only salvation for them was Israel, but unfortunately they did not reach Israel. Unfortunately, the British government back then banned the Jews from entering the Holy Land, Israel. (…) 769 Jews were on that ship, which ship was torpedoed by a Russian submarine. It is our duty to know what happened, it is our duty to know our history”, Saranga said.

He underscored that a better future can be built without anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

“Today, after 80 years, we live in a society where anti-Semitism and xenophobia still exist. It is our duty to remember, it is our duty to know our history and learn from it because if we want to build a better future, if we want a safer place for our children we must not accept this phenomenon of anti-Semitism,” said the Israeli Ambassador to Romania.

According to the Chief of Staff of the Naval Forces, Rear Admiral Mihai Panait, the authorities and civil society must get involved in the fight against any form of intolerance, discrimination or racism.

“Today we commemorate not only a tragic event, but we also draw attention on the suffering caused by the repression of the Jews during the Second World War. We must take immediate action to combat all forms of intolerance and discrimination. And the most appropriate response to such challenges is honest and responsible education,” Panait said.

The Romanian Naval Forces reported that “Struma” was the last ship with Romanian Jewish emigrants to leave the Port of Constanta in 1941, the drama of its passengers being eloquent for the conditions in which the transport of emigrants took place during the Second World War.

On December 12, 1941, “Struma” left the Port of Constanta, with more than 760 Romanian Jewish emigrants on board (including 100 children), bound for Istanbul, where passengers were to receive visas to continue to travel. They had come from all over Romania and were determined to leave their homelands and give up their Romanian citizenship in order to save their lives.

A few days later, on December 16, 1941, “Struma” anchored in the small Turkish port of Buyukdere, 3 miles north of the Bosphorus. The passengers were not allowed to disembark from the ship, and the ship was quarantined for a period of nine weeks. On the evening of February 23, 1942, the port authorities ordered the ship to be sent back to the Black Sea to return to Romania.

The tragic fate of the ship “Struma” caused the ship to sink the next day, February 24, 1942, and take with it, in the frozen depths of the Black Sea, more than 760 Romanian Jews. Fate made it so that only one person survived the sinking of the ship, a young man named David Stoliar, from Bucharest, due to whom the public opinion learned many of the dramas that took place then, aboard the ship, Agerpres informs.


Photo: Facebook/David Saranga

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