Commemorating the Struma disaster - World Jewish Congress

Commemorating the Struma disaster

On 24 February 1942, nearly 800 Jewish refugees from Axis-allied Romania died, as their ship the Struma, exploded during its attempt to enter Mandatory Palestine.

The ship, which was overcrowded and lacked adequate sanitary facilities, left the Romanian port of Constanta in December 1941. Passengers were tricked by charlatans into paying approximately $1,000 each in exchange for passage, which included a layover in Turkey, as well as visas to enter Mandatory Palestine. However, the ship was not durable, and its engine failed a couple of miles off the Turkish border. When a captain of a passing ship saw the Struma in distress, he offered to repair it in exchange for the passengers’ wedding rings, the only valuables most of the refugees were carrying with them. Reluctantly, the passengers agreed.

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