Shipwrecked on Rhodes in 1939, sent to an internment camp in Italy in 1942, freed in 1944
December 3, 2008 7:03 AM   Subscribe

Shipwrecked on Rhodes in 1939, sent to an internment camp in Italy in 1942, freed in 1944
In 1939, a ship packed with refugee Jews from central Europe, heading for Palestine, was shipwrecked near the island of Samos. The ship managed to make it to the island of Rhodes, and the homeless, luggage-less passengers were warehoused in the local athletic stadium -- for almost two years! Some eventually did make it to Palestine, and about 300 others went to Tangiers. But a list of names was discovered in the very-recently-opened-to-the-public files of the International Tracing Service archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany, of 200 refugees who ended up being sent from Rhodes to an Italian internment camp in southern Italy called Ferramonti di Tarsia. Read on for a very MeFi-involved history of how this list became part of an online Holocaust database...

I was initially interested in researching Rhodes because about half my husband's family lived there, and researching family history is a hobby of mine. I found out through the genealogical grapevine about the new ITS records finally being opened to the public for research after more than 50 years, and I started looking into what records were available for Rhodes in their files. There wasn't much available, but the Ferramonti list looked interesting, and small enough to be easy to retype into Excel, and then turned into a simple database. After a tentative e-mail, I obtained JPG copies of scans of the original 1942 list from a wonderful and generous MeFite who is a Holocaust library archivist (who shall remain nameless here, but I'm sure longtime readers can guess who). But, as I was unable to post the images into a publicly accessible web space or to the public domain, because of international treaties concerning the reposting of actual scans of data from the newly released ITS files (though translations and transcriptions were permitted), I used this AskMeFi post to find a German translator to translate the 1942 letter to the Red Cross in Geneva that accompanied the list. Another nice MeFite had the translation done for me for a very reasonable fee -- and within a day! And now, after waiting for the Jewish genealogy website to finally add it to their massive online Holocaust database, it's online, and you can search it here for free. Three cheers for MeFi for helping this list make its way from an old Germany archive to a free online database. (And as for the unfortunate 200 people mentioned in the list, I'm happy to report that even though they suffered through persecution and shipwreck and internment, most of them survived and were freed in 1944.)
posted by Asparagirl (0 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

« Older Parenting Fail...   |   Derailleur- The Dirtiest Dudes... Newer »

You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.