Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici tells the story of the sinking of The Struma, a dilapidated ship carrying nearly 800 Jews from Romania to Palestine via Turkey during World War II, in “The Struma” (2001), which makes its television debut on HBO2.
The vessel left Constanza, Romania, in December 1941 and, suffering engine failure, barely made it to its first stop, Istanbul, where the refugees hoped to obtain entry visas to Palestine. The Turkish government, however, wanted to maintain a “neutral” stance in the war and denied the refugees entry to Palestine and would not allow them to be transferred to a transit camp on land.
In February 1942, without water, food or fuel on board, the Turks towed the ship out into the Black Sea, where it floated until the following day, when a submarine fired a torpedo, sinking the ship. Through insights from the ship’s lone surviving passenger, David Stoliar, and under-water imagery from a recent diving expedition by British diver Greg Buxton, whose grandparents went down with the ship, the film exposes a 60-year-old cover-up. “The Struma” won the Audience Award for best documentary at the 2002 Portland International Film Festival. The Israel-born Canadian filmmaker is the son of Romanian Holocaust survivors and is known for his films “Quest for the Lost Tribe” (1999) and “Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies, and the American Dream” (1998).
HBO2; debuts Oct. 7, please check local listings for times. (www.hbo.com/docs/upcoming)