Martyrs of ‘illegal’ Immigration Reinterred Atop Mount Herzl
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Martyrs of ‘illegal’ Immigration Reinterred Atop Mount Herzl

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The bodies of 199 Bulgarian Jewish refugees who drowned in December 1940 off the coast of Turkey, while attempting to emigrate “illegally” to Palestine, were reinterred with State honors today on Mount Herzl, after a funeral procession from Tel Aviv.

The remains arrived in the Jaffa harbor yesterday aboard the Israeli ship S.S. Ashdod, after being transferred from graves in the Turkish village of Salivara. The victims drowned 24 years ago off the Turkish coast when their ship, the San Salvador, capsized in a storm, after Turkish authorities refused permission for them to land. Of the 323 refugees aboard the 65-foot vessel when it went down, 120 were rescued. All but four of the bodies were recovered and buried in Turkey.

Thousands of Israelis, including Cabinet Ministers, Supreme Court justices and senior Government and military officials, attended the solemn rites atop Mount Herzl today. The services were conducted by rabbis of the Bulgarian community. As the last grave was covered, a military guard of honor fired salvos saluting the victims. Members of their families and friends prayed and wept. The eulogy was delivered by Army Chief Chaplain Shlomo Goren, Many of the mourners remained standing silently before the wreath-covered graves for some time after the conclusion of the ceremonies.

The burial rites were preceded by a mass memorial meeting at the nearby Yad Vashem documentation center. The meeting was addressed by Moshe Sharett, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive.


On arrival at Jaffa Port yesterday, the coffins, wrapped in Israeli flags, were placed aboard a special barge surrounded with Israeli naval vessels. On another barge nearby were President and Mrs. Zalman Shazar and Foreign Minister Golda Meir, who paid tribute to the victims of the “illegal” immigration as naval units guard of honor threw wreaths of flowers into the sea in memory of the victims.

The coffins were later placed on Army trucks and carried to Blumfield Stadium in Jaffa, where thousands of Israelis, many of them former Bulgarian immigrants, joined in the memorial services which were led by six cantors and rabbis.

Labor Minister Yigal Allon, who represented the Israel Government at the services, recalled the plight of the “illegal” immigrants, when all frontiers were closed to them and their only chance was to try to make a voyage by sea. He said that, with no prayer vessels, “they had to use whatever was available–hence the tragedies of the Struma, Mafkura and Salvador.”

All of last night, prayers were recited by a special guard of honor. Morning services were held this morning in the stadium. The funeral procession then proceeded to Jerusalem, for the Mount Herzl ceremonies and interment.

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