Above: David Stoliar’s permit to board the Struma.
ON THIS DATE in 1942, nineteen-year-old David Stoliar was the only one of 768 Jewish refugees to survive the sinking of the immigrant ship Struma, which was torpedoed in the Black Sea by a Soviet submarine. “The ship vaporized around me, some 500 passengers were killed immediately,” Stolier said in 2012, the 70th anniversary of World War II’s worst civilian maritime disaster. “I was thrown into the sea along with several hundred others … no one came to our aid. Everyone died, everyone, except for me.”
After the torpedo blast sunk the ship, Stoliar grabbed a floating piece of deck, which he clung to for 24 hours. The SS Struma was one of 141 immigrant ships that made their way to Palestine between 1934 and 1948.