06 July 2015

A Walk Through the Centuries - Part II - in... (Istanbul - 4457 km)

(Istanbul, 29.06.2015 - 05.07.2015) The second walk through the centuries takes us to the 20th century, more precisely to the morning of February 24, 1942, when the MV Struma sunk. After weeks of fruitless negotiations between Britain and Turkey, Turkish authorities towed Struma from Istanbul through the Bosphorus out to the coast of Şile in North Istanbul. Within hours, in the morning of 24 February, the Soviet submarine Shch-213 torpedoed her, killing an estimated 781 Jewish refugees, many of them from Bukovina, plus 10 crew members. Only one person aboard, 19-year-old David Stoliar, survived. The Istanbul daily newspaper Cumhuriyet reports on the Struma Disaster, displaying the only one existing photo, believed to show Struma in the Port of Istanbul in 1942.

A huge number of books, articles, websites and blogs have been published on this subject in many different languages. Among them Halit Kakınç's documentary novel "Struma" may be lesser known to the general readership, but it's nonetheless remarkable, since it appeared in its 16th edition (!) in 2015, demonstrating the changed historical awareness of the Turkish public. Following the current opinion, "Turkey for the first time hosted a commemoration event for Jews killed in Struma ship disaster of 1942, bonding with the Jewish community in the country over 'shared pain' according to a government minister at the event.", as per Daily Sabah, February 25, 2015 edition.

In August 2000 a rescue project succeeded in recovering the ruins of the Struma six miles to the north of the Bosphorus Strait, at a depth of 73-80 meters as per NTV-MSNBC, August 7, 2000 edition. During my sea walk both through the centuries and the Bosphorus Strait, I was accompanied by traders from all over the world, such as the DA CUI YUN from Hong Kong, the NADALINA from Sierra Leone, the NEW HELLAS from Greece, the KUJAWY from the Bahamas, the ALEYNA MERCAN from Malta and finally the ATLAS from Liberia.

Nothing seems to be evocative of the Struma Disaster, but on the other hand it's good to notice, that at least for the Turkish public the victims of the disaster didn't pass into oblivion.

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