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Patria - Definition

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Patria (or Patra)-   A ship of illegal Jewish immigrants, blown up accidentally by the Haganah. In late 1940, the Nazis were still trying to deport the Jews of Europe for the most part, rather than exterminating them. Adolf Eichmann headed  The Committee for Sending Jews Overseas. Apparently, Eichmann was happy to make trouble for the British as well by allowing Jews to leave for Palestine, against the policy of the British white paper of 1939, which limited Jewish immigration to to 15,000 per year, and against the unofficial British policy, which would not even allow that number into Palestine.

Eichmann's Committee for Sending Jews Overseas chartered three ships in Rumania: The Atlantic, The Pacific and the Milos, holding 3,600 Jews together. These left the Rumanian port of Tulcia in September of 1940 and arrived in Palestine separately beginning November 1, 1940. Each of the ships was intercepted by the British, and passengers were transferred in turn to the Patria, for transport to  Mauritius where they would be interned. The Patria was a French ship seized by the British in Haifa Harbor in June 1940, following the French surrender to the Nazis. It had been built about 1913 and had a gross weight of 12,000 tons.

The Haganah and other groups conferred about how to stop the transshipment. Haganah activists decided to place a small charge on the ship that would wreck the motors, detaining the ship in port. After 130 passengers of the lately arrived Atlantic were being transferred to the Patria, the charge exploded on the morning of November 25. Unfortunately, it created a large explosion, ripped a hole in the hull and caused the ship to sink rapidly. British and Arab boats rescued most of the passengers, but about 267 people were killed.

The Patria sinking in Haifa Bay, with smaller vessels attempting rescue.

The remaining immigrants on the Patria were detained in Atlit. After an international campaign, they were allowed to stay in Palestine. However, the passengers of the Atlantic were sent to Mauritius. After the war, they were allowed to chose their destination. Over 80% chose to come to Palestine and arrived there in August of 1945.

Jewish opinion in Palestine was upset by the loss of life, and many assumed that the explosion had been the work of the Irgun. Actually it was carried out by the Haganah, apparently  without proper approval. Anti-Zionists have claimed that the Haganah deliberately sank the ship. This was not the case it seems, though some Haganah and Jewish Agency propaganda pretended that the sinking was done to show Jewish determination.

Synonyms and alternate spellings:

Further Information: Aliya Bet.   Exodus Mefkure Struma Salvador

Hebrew/Arabic pronunciation and transliteration conventions:

'H - ('het) a guttural sound made deep in the throat. To Western ears it may sound like the "ch" in loch. In Arabic there are several letters that have similar sounds. Examples: 'hanukah, 'hamas, 'haredi. Formerly, this sound was often represented by ch, especially in German transliterations of Hebrew. Thus, 'hanukah is often rendered as Chanuka for example.

ch - (chaf) a sound like "ch" in loch or the Russian Kh as in Khruschev or German Ach, made by putting the tongue against the roof of the mouth. In Hebrew, a chaf can never occur at the beginning of a word. At the beginning of a word, it has a dot in it and is pronounced "Kaf."

u - usually between oo as in spoon and u as in put.

a- sounded like a in arm

ah- used to represent an a sound made by the letter hey at the end of a word. It is the same sound as a. Haganah and Hagana are alternative acceptable transliterations.

'a-notation used for Hebrew and Arabic ayin, a guttural ah sound.

o - close to the French o as in homme.

th - (taf without a dot) - Th was formerly used to transliterate the Hebrew taf sound for taf without a dot. However in modern Hebrew there is no detectable difference in standard pronunciation of taf with or without a dot, and therefore Histadruth and Histadrut, Rehovoth and Rehovot are all acceptable.

q- (quf) - In transliteration of Hebrew and Arabic, it is best to consistently use the letter q for the quf, to avoid confusion with similar sounding words that might be spelled with a kaf, which should be transliterated as K. Thus, Hatiqva is preferable to Hatikva for example.

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