The Shch-213 submarine… encountered on the morning of 24.2.1942 an unprotected enemy vessel Struma… The ship was successfully torpedoed from a distance of [1,118 meters] and sunk… Junior officers… Unit Commander and non-commissioned officers… and the Red Fleet sailor who fired the torpedo… have shown courage… Soviet Military Archives


It is no small irony that a yacht built for a minor British nobleman should have been sold to an aspiring member of the bourgeoisie and the passed along to Greek , Bulgarian and Greek again ship owners to wind up as a cattle barge that had long since been struck from Lloyd’s and finally finished her life as the last best hope of a forlorn group of refugees. It is tragic that the callous indifference of allied and non-allied governments created the circumstance where the cargo of refugees were stranded on board, in conditions inferior to the normal carriage of cattle, to meet a fiery death after she had been cast adrift without any working means of propulsion or steering by the Turks and torpedoed by a Soviet submarine.

The first owner

The first owner

Death on the Black Sea: the untold story of the Struma and World War II’s Holocaust at sea New York, N.Y.: HarperCollins Publishers, c 20003 Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) Romania, Strumah (Ship) Hardcover. 1st ed. xvi, 352 p.: ill., maps; 23 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 345-349). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

On the morning of February 24, 1942, on the Black Sea near Istanbul, an explosion ripped through a ship filled with Jewish refugees. One man clung fiercely to a piece of deck, fighting to survive. Nearly eight hundred others – among them, more than one hundred children – perished.

On her last voyage

On her last voyage

From this dramatic prologue Death on the Black Sea unfolds as a powerful story of endurance and the struggle for survival aboard a decrepit former cattle barge called Struma. The only path to escape led through Istanbul, where the desperate passengers found themselves trapped in a closing vise between the Nazis and countries that refused them sanctuary.

The story of the Struma, its passengers, and the events that led to its destruction is investigated and revealed fully in two vivid, parallel accounts set six decades apart. One chronicles the diplomatic maneuvers and callousness of Great Britain, Romania, Turkey, and the rest of the international community, which resulted in the largest maritime loss of civilian life during World War II. The other part of the story recounts a recent attempt by a team of divers to locate the Struma at the bottom of the Black Sea, an effort initiated and pursued by the grandson of two of the victims.

A vivid reconstruction of a grim exodus aboard a doomed ship, Death on the Black Sea illuminates a forgotten episode of World War II and pays tribute to the heroes, past and present, who keep its memory alive.

The final insult

The final insult

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