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PATRIA , ship bearing "illegal" Jewish immigrants to Palestine which sank in Haifa Bay. Early in November 1940, the steamers Milos and Pacific, together carrying 1,771 Jewish refugees from Central Europe, arrived in Haifa (see: *Immigration, "Illegal"). The passengers were transferred on board the 12,000-ton French liner, Patria, which had been chartered by the British, to be deported to the island of *Mauritius, by order of the British Mandatory government in accordance with the Defense Regulations (Entry Prohibition; 1940). They were not to be permitted entry to Palestine at any time. On the morning of November 25, when the transshipment of the passengers of the Atlantic – another ship with about 1,800 "illegal" immigrants – was in progress and some 130 of them were already on the Patria, the ship blew up and sank within 15 minutes inside Haifa Bay with a loss of life of about 260 persons; the number of bodies finally recovered was 209. This disaster was caused by the ignition of explosives brought aboard in an attempt to sabotage the engines and thus prevent the deportation. The survivors of the Patria were permitted to remain in Palestine and were interned for some time at the detention camp at *Athlit. They were released by groups in the course of 1941. However, the remaining passengers of the Atlantic, about 1,600 persons, mostly from Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, were deported to Mauritius and interned there until August 1945.


M.M. Mardov, Strictly Illegal (1964) 56–83; B. Ḥabas, Gate Breakers (1963), 126–49; G.E. Steiner, Patria (Heb., 1964); Yad Vashem, Ha-Sho'ah ve-ha-Gevurah be-Aspaklaryah shel ha-Ittonut ha-Ivrit, 2 (1966), 11842–884.

[Aharon Zwergbaum]