Feiglin: Turkey should apologize for ‘Struma’

Likud MK says Ankara towed and abandoned ship headed to Palestine, which resulted in death of 800 Jewish refugees in 1942.

April 2, 2013 01:07
1 minute read.
The only extant photo of the Struma

Struma 390. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Turkey must apologize for sinking a ship and killing nearly 800 Jews in 1942, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud) said over a week after Israel apologized to Turkey for the 2010 raid of the Mavi Marmara.

Feiglin recounted in a Facebook post the tragic story of the ship filled with Jews hoping to immigrate to pre-state Israel.

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The merchant vessel Struma left the Romanian port of Constanta in December 1941 at the initiative of the New Zionist Organization and the Betar Zionist youth movement. Its 781 passengers hoped to sail to Mandatory Palestine despite British-imposed Jewish immigration quotas, and escape the fascist regime of Romanian dictator Ion Antonescu.

The ship docked in Istanbul on December 16, 1941, due to engine failure. Waiting at the port, the Struma’s passengers learned the British would not give them visas to enter Mandatory Palestine and that they could not disembark in Turkey.

After a 10-week impasse between British and Turkish diplomats over the refugees, during which the Jewish community of Istanbul provided them with food, the Struma was towed into the Black Sea. The vessel was abandoned about 16 kilometers from the shore. On February 24, 1942, the Soviet Submarine Shch-213 torpedoed the ship, which sank quickly.

The only survivor of the Struma’s sinking was a 19-year-old refugee, David Stoliar. The ship’s wreck has yet to be found.

“This was the greatest tragedy in the history of ha’apala [illegal Jewish immigration to mandatory Palestine],” Feiglin wrote. “On the Turks’ giant peninsula, known as Asia Minor, a real continent, they could not find a permanent place of refuge for the refugees of fascism. The Turkish expelled the immigrants to their death.”

Still, Feiglin concluded that Israel does not need Turkey’s apology or money.

“The Jewish people have a special talent – they remember,” he wrote.

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