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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.
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.