SS Patria sunk in Haifa Harbour

The SS Patria sinking in sight of land - 267 people died when the ship went down rapidly following the explosion.

The small minority of Jewish refugees who succeeded in escaping from Nazi occupied Europe had a hard time finding refuge. Many sought to make their way to Palestine, which at the time operated under a British Mandate. British policy was to strictly limit immigration into Palestine, not wanting to provoke Arab unrest.

Three ships carrying mainly Austrian, Polish and Czech Jewish refugees were permitted to leave by the Nazi regime. They were intercepted by the Royal Navy and held in the port of Haifa. Around 1800 refugees were transferred to the old French liner the SS Patria, with the intention of making the refugees proceed on to Mauritius.

On the 25th November 1940 the SS Patria was bombed in attempt to prevent it leaving. Unfortunately the bomb was a great deal more powerful than needed to disable the old ship and she sank within 15 minutes. It was estimated that 267 people lost their lives, including 50 of the mainly British crew.

Munia Mandor who had planted the bomb on behalf of the Haganah, the Jewish resistance group, did not reveal his role until the 1950s when he claimed:

There was never any intent to cause the ship to sink. The British would have used this against the Jewish population and show it as an act of sabotage against the war effort.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Editor March 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm

@ Paul

At the present time I do not have any further information.

Paul Jancu March 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm

1) Do you have a photo of s/s Patria before she was sunk?
2) Were there refugees added to it from other ships for deportation to Mauritius

Geoffrey Pound September 25, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Was Manor ever convicted for his crime?

Why didn’t he simply allow the ship to go to Mauritious. The Jewish refugees would at least would have had their lives and, albeit with the benefit of hindsight, we know they would have got to Israel anyway after the State was established in 1948.

If Manor is still alive , he ought to be put on trial in the same way as the other War Criminals of that era.

Editor August 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

Thanks Paul

I have amended the image – will try to find a better one of the Patria.

Paul Silverstone August 2, 2011 at 1:50 am

The Patria had three funnels – this is a different ship.

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