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Adventures of 520 Shipwrecked Refugees Related in Report Reaching Palestine

December 9, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Palestine today, after 18 months, received a detailed report of the fate of 520 Jewish refugees interned on the Italian Island of Rhodes after being shipwrecked in July, 1940, when their small Bulgarian steamship Pentcho foundered off the Dodecanese Islands, bringing their five-month odyssey to an end.

The report, which reached here through Turkey, read like the adventures of Robinson Crusoe. The passengers, all Jews from Germany and Czechoslovakia, improvised sails when the boilers failed. A favorable wind very slowly propelled the vessel all day long. Towards evening, however, the vessel struck an uninhabited island in the Mediterranean and began sinking rapidly. The passengers succeeded in lowering the gangplanks to the shore and landed in an orderly manner.

The first passenger to land was a refugee who carried the Torah scroll which the passengers had with them from the very first day of their wanderings. He was followed by women and children. The men passengers and the crew landed later without the loss of a single life.

Morning found them on land with fresh spring water but with no food. After quenching their thirst some of the men returned to the ship to save anything that could be used for the erection of huts. Suffering hunger, the refugees hung out white flags during the day and burned fires during the night in order to attract the attention of passing ships. On dawn of the eleventh day they heard a roar over their heads and recognized Italian reconnaissance planes. The planes spotted the refugees and the next day a rescue ship arrived and transferred them to the Island of Rhodes where they will remain for the duration of the war.

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