[Cz-L] Cyprus internation

From: <lapidotm_at_inter.net.il>
Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2014 11:27:19 +0200
To: CZERNOWITZ-L <Czernowitz-L_at_cornell.edu>
Reply-To: <lapidotm_at_inter.net.il>

Boker Tov and Khodesh Tov,

This is addressed to those of you who spent some time in Cyprus from November 1942.

While working on my memoirs from the Czernowitz period, for my grandchildren, and writing about my late aunt and uncle (Rifcu and Leon Grossman), who spent several years in Nicosia, I was searching for documents re their boat (the late Prof. Zvi Yaavetz sailed with them) in which they escaped from Romania. I found the following:

In a list of Haapala boats:
- On 21.8.1942 the ship Europa with 20 or 30 passengers left Sulina. Most were from Czernowitz. The British Authorities transferred them to Cyprus in October 1942.
- On 22.8.1942 the boat Dora with 15 persons, most of them from Czernowitz, left Braila (my family and Yaawetz were on this motorboat). After some technical mishaps on the way (my aunt told me that the motor stopped, the Romanian mechanic was drunk asleep, so my uncle, who was a skilled meister - albeit in the textile industry - was able to repair the motor twice, and get it going), the boat stranded in a remote gulf near the Turkish island Liros. They waited there 49 days untill they were transferred to Cyprus in November 1942 (my note: this does not correspobd to 49 days, but who cares now).
- On 19.9.1942 the ship Viitorul with 120 Olim, 46 families including children, most of whom were from Bukovina and Bessarabia, left Constanta. Because of flooding, the ship returned to Sulina, and left there on 28.9.1942. The ship was hit by a storm near the Turkish shore - 2 passengers drowned but the rest were saved by Turkish sailors. They were transferred to Cyprus in November 1942, together with the Dora passengers.

In a news item in "Davar" (the local Histadrut newspaper) of 21.10.1942:
A delegation from Hitachdut Olei Romania (Dr. Meir Ebner, Dr. Yosef Lerner, Dr. M. Weissman, Dr. Kaemer and M. Lindner) was received yesterday by Mr. Macpherson, the Chief Secretary of the Government in Jerusalem. The delegation petitioned for immigration permits for the 150 refugees from Romania (120 of the survivors of Viitorul, and 30 of the two boats - Dora and Europa). They also submitted a written memo, describing the status of the refugees, to the Chief Secretary, to be transmitted to London. After the meeting with the Chief Secretary the delegation went to the Aliya department of the Jewish Agency.

In a news item in "Davar" of 27.10.42:
Ankara. 23 (Palcor). The boat "Dora" with 15 Jewish refugees from Romania stranded on a shelf opposite Karatas, close to Alexandreta. The passengers are OK. It became known that the British Authorities decided to transfer the refugees from the boat "Dora" to Cyprus , and so also the 120 Jewish refugees from Romania that were saved from the Romanian ship "Viitorul", and are temporarily in Turkey,

Prof. Zvi Yaavetz also told the story - with some added flavour: ...

After escaping from the train that took his family to Transnistria, he returned to his home , and unearthed from the corner of his garden some hidden gold, dollars, Marie-Theresien Talers, silver cutlery and two mink coats of his mother.

Later he joined a group of 17 other young people - men and wormen - who had found the right people to bribe - a Romanian officer and a Romanian ethnic German who owned a yacht, a motorized river boat, old and unsuitable.

(I read in a note quoting Yaavetz at some interview, claiming that the boat - now we know that it was the Dora - was purchased with this small treasure - I am afraid he was not pulling the nose of the reporter when he claimed this - he did have such a sense of humour... But if true, this small treasure was certainly part of the substantial bribe that was necessary, and that was surely collected from the other participants as well. I know from my aunt that they had to do some considerable work to render the boat "sailworthy")

Equipped with an atlas from school, they decided to navigate their way out to the Black Sea. The group failed to find the Bosporus and, two weeks into the journey, (you already know from an earlier message that I had sent that the motor stopped after some progress in the Black Sea, the Romanian mechanic, who was supposed to keep the boat moving, was drunk asleep, and my uncle was able to twice repair the motor and get it going) the boat was smashed to bits against a cliff the boat wrecked near Carabournu, near the coast of Turkey. The next stop was Turkish prison. The Turks took the group for spies and interrogated them at length. A senior Turkish officer who happened by, and heard they were Jews, contacted local representatives of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish community in Istanbul, who tried to assist them.

The group was caught in an impossible situation. The Turks threatened to send them back to Romania. The British wouldn’t permit them to sail to Palestine. The group sent letters to President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, launched a hunger strike and threatened suicide, demanding visas to Palestine. After two weeks of negotiations, Lord Wedgewood intervened, and the British decided that the group would be transferred to Cyprus and held there until the end of the war.

They thereby became the first Jewish refugees on that island before it became a huge detention camp for Jews who tried to immigrate illegally to Palestine.

Regards and Happy New Year

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Received on 2014-01-02 07:44:41

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