Greenpoint, October, 2015

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Titanic Inhumanity

(Photo: Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press)
In this season of Titanic centenary hoopla, let's take a moment to remember another ship lost at sea. The SS Struma went down on February 24, 1942. All but one its 779 passengers perished; nearly all were Romanian Jews fleeing to Palestine. They made it to Istanbul but were denied passage to Palestine by the British government, publicly fearful allowing them to do so would "encourage a flood of refugees." Turkey refused to the passengers to disembark. After two months of sitting in the Istanbul harbor, with conditions worsening by the day, the Turks towed the Struma out to sea--with the blessing of the British government and despite offers by Turkey's Jewish community to provide shelter for the displaced persons. 74 days later, the Struma was torpedoed by a Soviet submarine.

Needless to say, you won't find any Hollywood films about this entirely manmade disaster. No shipboard romance. No Celine Dion song. No state rooms and ballrooms--it was pretty much all steerage. The photo above comes from the commemoration of the 70th anniversary in Bucharest.

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