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May 28, 1965 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-05-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Purely Commentary

Who Sank the 'Struma' and the `Mefkure'?

A new West German publicity organ, "Deutschland-Berichte,"
published in Bonn by Rolf Vogel, has revealed many interesting
hitherto-unknown facts about German-Jewish relations, issues affect-
ing Israel and Jewry and other maters.
Several weeks ago we had occasion to utilize facts about Soviet
arms supplies that have gone to Arab states, made known by this
service.
Now comes another sensational revelation. According to "Deusch-
land-Berichte," the ships Struma and the Mefkure were sunk by Soviet
submarines. Dealing with the issue under the heading "Those Who
Sank the Struma and the Mefkure," purporting to offer a , "revealing
investigation into the shipment of Jewish refugees to Palestine," the
Berichte states:
"A puzzle stemming from the years of the war and the perse-
cution of the Jews has now been finally cleared up: the question
was, who ordered the sinking of the Jewish refugee transport
vessels `Struma' in February 1942 and `Mefkure' in August 1944
and how did this come about? Both ships sank in the Black Sea.
As a result, 1,072 Polish and Romanian Jews, among them many
women and children, were either drowned or were suffocated by
the flames which swept over the `Mefkure', when It caught fire
and was sinking after being fired on. Only ten passengers were
rescued alive.
"It was believed and asserted during the ensuing period that
German warships had been responsible for the sinking of the
two transport ships and that this had occurred as part of the
so-called 'final solution of the Jewish question, which had been
decided upon at the Wannsee Conference of January 20th, 1942.'
"It is now clear however without any measure of doubt that
all the suppositions and assertions of this kind were incorrect
and that in point of fact refugee ships had actually received
German protection through the mine belts. Moreover, it is now
known for certain who was responsible for the sinking of the
`Struma' and the `Mefkure.' The `Struma' was attacked about ten
sea miles to the north of the Bosphorus on February 24th, 1942
by the Soviet submarine SC-213 and sunk as a result of the
damage caused by a torpedo. The `Mefkure' was set on fire and
sunk on August 5th, 1944 about forty-five sea miles to the north
of the Bosphorus by the Soviet submarine SC-215, which launched
an underwater attack with artillery and machine-gun fire. In both
cases, the Soviet submarine commanders could not have been .
aware of the fact that the ships were carrying Jewish refugees.
The sinkings ensued in each case under the supposition that the
vessels belonged to the hostile Axis powers and thus constitute
tragic incidents within the framework of the war at sea in the
Black Sea area.
"Dr. Juergen Rohwer, the historian and director of the Con-
temporary History Library at Stuttgart, is responsible for this
conclusive explanation of the incidents involving the `Struma' and
the `Mefkure.' His work in carrying out the investigation was
done at the request of various West German authorities, in par-
ticular the Central Office for Investigating National Socialist
Crimes of Violence, which has its headquarters at Ludwigsburg.
Dr. Rohwer compiled a report on the results of his findings.
"This expansive document, which runs to some one hundred
and fifty-three pages has now been published. Of the twenty-one
chapters and sections, which go to make 1113 the work, however,
only seven are immediately concerned with the details of the
`Struma' and `Mefkure' cases. For reasons of the need to produce
absolutely water-tight evidence and also to assist in comprehend-
ing the historical connections involved, the report deals with the
fate of the Romanian Jews, the immigration into Palestine by
ship from 1934 to 1948, the attitudes of the governments con-
cerned, in particular that of the British government, to the
question of Jews emigrating by sea, as well as sea transport and
the utilization of naval forces in the areas concerned and during
the various periods. The investigation also includes an appendix
with seven annexes (as well as two maps). These outline for the
most part the movement of ships from various ports, submarine
operations on both sides as well as the voyagei of 'illegal' Zionist
immigrant ships from 1945 to 1948:
"The investigation is quite remarkable for the care and
exactitude which has gone into it, as well as its comprehensive
nature. As far as sources are-- concerned, all the pertinent and
accessible ones have been utilized and these have been comple-
mented by all kinds of written and oral questions put to German
and foreign officers as well as scientists. The completeness of
The evidence nroduced and evaluated leaves no doubt whatsoever
as to the correctness of the conclusions drawn by the author.
"Moreover, as a result of the prosaic, unprejudiced and im-
passionate portrayal of the events surveyed in the investigation,
it is possible to obtain a startling insight into the drama associated
with the transport of Jewish refugees across the seas. In many
cases, only tiny, broken-down river-boats, sloops, launches, tugs,
in short 'ghost ships' were available for the Jewish refugees. It
was in this type of water transnort that they managed to escape
persecution by the SS and the Romanian 'Iron Guard.' These
Jews were exposed to all kinds of dangers in their flight to free-
dom in Palestine through parts of the world, where circum-
stances were hostile to them. Most of them succeeded in reaching
Palestine straightaway, but there were those, who spent years
interned in British camps, or died as a result of the unimaginable
conditions on the 'floating coffins' or sank into the depths of
the Black Sea.
"It can be supposed and honed that the historical investiga-
tion which has now been produced, the author of which in all
reserve describes himself as its 'adapter' and which was origin-
ally intended merely as a report for internal usage, will arouse
considerably more interest than was supposed by those responsible
for it and which such an excellent piece of work undoubtedly
deserves."

Juergen Rowher, "Die Versenk/ing der judischen Fluchtlings — transporter
Struma and Mefkure in Schwarzen Meer", Volume 4 of the Documents of
the Library for Contemporary History (Bibliothek fur Zeigeschichte) Stutt-
:gart, 1965, Bernard and Graefe Press for Military Publications, Frankfurt
on Main.

Historic Facts Come
to Light with Newest
War Guilt Revelations

By Philip

Hebrew Corner

The Struma

Slomovitz

factor in the failure of the democracies to come to the aid of the
persecuted Jewries of Europe, half of whom might have been saved
had the United States, Britain and other powers adopted a program
of compassion.
The entire story has not yet been told, but if the Juergen Rohwer
story is entirely correct, then we are due for many more shocks about
the world conflict, the diplomats and warriors who controlled the
destiny of mankind during the crucial and cruel years of Nazism.

Arab Boycott: The Insults to Americans

Several U. S. Senators found it difficult to understand how our
State Department, whose duty it is to protect the welfare of American
citizens, could in all honesty oppose a measure that would prevent
interference with American trade via a boycott of Israel by Arabs.
What the Arabs have done has been to molest Americans who do
business in the Middle East and to boycott those who appear to be
friendly to Israel. Such discrimination would be inconceivable in the
instance of any other people. But our State Department lives in
dreaded fear of the Arabs lest they join the Communist ranks. Nasser
and his cohorts hardly ever pay any attention to us anyway, yet we
keep appeasing those who are insulting Americans and are interfering
with our trade.
Perhaps Congress once again will show sufficient courage to
overcome opposition to proposed legislation which seeks to put an
end to the Arab boycott.

Peace With the Arabs

In spite of arrogance displayed by Arab leaders who stand in the
way of peace between Israel and their respective peoples, the quest
for amity continues.
Addressing the Bnai Brith convention in Jerusalem, Abba Eban
expressed confidence that resistance to peace efforts will be reduced in
the course of time.
In a television interview taped in Tunis, President Habib Bour-
guiba of Tunisia said his country will have no part in war threats on
Israel and that "Arab ventures against Israel are doomed to failure."
There is much hope for peace. But it won't be attained by ap-
peasement—too many concessions in Washington included. There must
be diplomatic negotiations on a statesmanlike scale. They are not im-
possible: as long as there is life there is hope, and Israel lives im-
perishably.

Swedish Neo-Nazi
Faces Trial as
`Threat to Order'

In December 1941 the ship Struma
sailed from the port of Constanza in
Romania. It was a small cattle boat, only
190 tons, very old and dilapidated. There
were 768 Jews on board who had suc-
ceeded in escaping from Romania before
the Germans got there. They hoped to
succeed in reaching Turkey safely, and
from there to get to Eretz Yisrael.
The boat, which successfully traversed
the Black Sea, reached the shores of
Turkey with great difficulty and entered
the harbor of Istanbul to take on fuel
and food and to repair the engines which
had broken down on the way.
The boat received no help in Istanbul.
The harbor services declined to provide
fuel, and even food and water for the
passengers were refused.
The owner of the ship informed the
immigrants that the engine had broken
down completely and that its repair
would take until the end of January. It
was war time, and the Germans had
great influence in Turkey. Therefore
the Turks stated that not a single per-
son would be allowed to leave the ship.
And so the passengers remained on
board the boat in the harbor for many
long weeks, and the engine was still
not repaired.
On the 22nd of Februray, the hnme-
grants received a telegram from Ertz
Yisrael which contained the happy news
that the Jewish Agency had succeeded in
obtaining entrance permits for them to
Eretz Yisrael. But by the next noon, the
happiness had disappeared. Turkish po-
lice boats surrounded the small ship and
towed the Struma outside the port. They
knew the facts: with a broken engine,
the boat could not sail to Romania or to
any other place in the world.
The boat tossed around all night. The
winds drove it toward the open sea. But
nevertheless the passengers continued to
hope that someone would come to their
rescue. It was a vain hope.
Next day people on the Turkish shore
heard a loud explosion. They could see
in the distance that the Struma was
sinking rapidly.
What caused the mysterious explosion?
That we do not know to this day. It is
said that a sea mine struck the boat;
and it is also said that a German torpedo
sank it. The 768 immierants on the boat
drowned in the Black Sea. Only one man
survived.
Since then, the ship etruma has be-
come a symbol of the struggle of the
Jews who wish to return to their home-
land.

Translation of Hebrew column, pub-

'ished by the Brit Ivrit Olamit Jerusa-
lam.

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Yaacov Dori Resigns
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HAIFA (JTA) — Yaacov Dori,
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STOCKHOLM — Bjoern Lun-
dahl, 30-year-old Swedish Nazi,
was committed Tuesday for trial
on charges of being "an armed
threat to law and order" after
pleading not guilty.
Lundahl was arrested two weeks
ago after a police raid uncovered
a Nazi ring which had document-
ed plans to kill all Swedish Jews
and which had allegedly conduct-
ed espionage for Egypt against
Israel.
Lundahl, who faces a sentence
of from six to 10 years' imprison-
ment if convicted, contended that
the subversive documents found
by police in his organization's
headquarters had been planted by
an informer, Goeran Granquist,
who then told the Swedish news-
paper, Express, about the Nazis.
Granquist turned up in Israel
over the weekend contending his
life was not safe in Sweden.
Swedish police officials dis-
closed they had sent an official
to Israel to interview Granquist
and to try to persuade him to re-
turn to Stockholm to testify
against Lundahl. The police offi-
cial returning -from Tel Aviv said
Granquist had denied faking the
evidence but refused to return to
Sweden, telling the police official
he intended to settle in Israel.
Six assistants arrested with
Landahl were released after the
attorney general refused a prose-
cution application to extend their
detention.

It would be hard to imagine that anything as serious as the
sinking of ships that were branded as "illegal" by the British, with
human cargoes that sought escape from Nazism, would he treated
with scoffing. The matter does not lend itself to jesting and we there-
fore assume that what has been revealed by the German researcher
contains more than a grain of truth.
his decision to resign.
The revelation emphasizes the cruelty of war, the inhumanity of
expediency, the horror that not only caused destruction of human THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
lives which become cheapened by war but was also a contributing 2—Friday, May 28, 1965

(r)'7.17

n, 171 rrol rIttV1)

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