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This list, along with its introductory letter, concerns 200 Jews (see Database section for a discussion of the 201 actual number of names vs. the number listed in the letter) who were transferred from the Island of Rhodes, located in the Aegean Sea just off the coast of Turkey, to the Ferramonti Di Tarsia internment camp, located in the Cosenza province of southern Italy. Both Rhodes and Ferramonti were under Italian control during World War II; however, Rhodes is today a part of Greece.
About 1940, Rhodes had a population of approximately 2,000 Jewish residents - primarily Sephardic Jews who had lived on the island since fleeing the Inquisition 500 years earlier, but a few of the families were Romaniote (Greek) Jews who had lived in the area since ancient times.
Before and during World War II, several ships full of Ashkenazi Jews, who were fleeing Europe en route to Palestine, stopped off at Rhodes for supplies. One of these ships was known to have been shipwrecked off the coast of the island of Samos in May 1939, but it managed to return to port in Rhodes. The refugees on board had lost almost all their luggage and had to live in the Rhodes athletic stadium for several months. The local Rhodes Jews, known as Rhodeslis, brought them food, blankets, and supplies.
According to Rhodes-born Holocaust survivor Laura Varon's memoir, "La Juderia," the months in 1939 that the shipwrecked European Jews spent living in the Rhodes stadium were the first time most of the Rhodeslis were able to receive firsthand information about the Holocaust, and an inkling of just how terrible the situation was getting in Europe for Jews.
Eventually, a new transport ship was obtained and most of the European refugees continued on to Palestine. Rabbi Marc D. Angel's history, "The Jews of Rhodes," says that the Rhodes community also arranged for 300 of the refugees to be transported to Tangiers.
However, neither Varon's book nor Angel's book mentions any refugees being transported to Italy. But since there is no other mention of any other shipwreck in contemporary Rhodes histories, it is presumed that these 200 people mentioned in this list were indeed from the same original group. That their names all appear to be Ashkenazi, and not Sephardic, lends credence to that theory.
The 200 people in the Ferramonti camp were presumably freed when the camp was liberated by the Allies in late 1943. Ferramonti was an internment camp, not a death camp, and most of its internees survived. The camp allowed for the sending and receiving of mail, which not only explains how the introductory letter attached to the list survived, but is also the subject of the letter itself.
Sadly, the Jews of Rhodes did not have as fortunate a fate as the European Jewish refugees temporarily housed on the island and enumerated in this list. The Rhodes community was deported from the island in the summer of 1944. Of the approximately 2,000 Jews on the island just before the war, only either 104 (Varon's book) or 151 (Angel's book) are thought to have survived. Rabbi Angel, citing various sources, says that 22 people died during the deportations, 1,145 died in Auschwitz, and 437 died in the labor camps.
The letter accompanying the list of names was typewritten in German. Here is an English translation of the letter dated 04-Mar-1942:
Rödi Shipwreck Committee
Dr. Lazar Konn
Ferramonti, 4 March 1942
Comitee de la Croix Rouge [Red Cross Committee],
I beg leave to share with you, that a portion of the shipwrecked persons who found themselves on the island of Rhodos [Rhodes] left Rhodos on January 12 of this year and were brought to Ferramonti di Taraia, Provinzia Cosenza, Italy. They have been placed in the concentration camp there.
There are 200 people in the group, mainly families, sick people and old people, whose names I beg leave to transmit to you in an attachment to this letter.
As the majority of us have relatives in England and Palestine, and since we stand united in the Way of the Red Cross, it is only natural that we look forward to receiving mail from our relatives, who find themselves in hostile foreign countries, through the Red Cross for the foreseeable future. First off, we would be thankful to you if you had the goodness to no longer direct mail meant for us to Rödi [Rhodes], but rather here to Ferramonti, in order to expedite the receipt of much-craved and eagerly awaited news from our kin.
At the same time, I beg of you to hopefully again pass on letters designated for the relatives who find themselves in hostile foreign countries. I would be extremely grateful if you could send us an envelope, filled out to your liking, for us to use as a sample, so that we get the order of the recipient and senders' addresses (which you forwarded to us last time) correct. I ask this in the hopes of making it easier to send and receive mail.
I hope that you will grant our plea to immediately forward any letters addressed to us at Rödi here [to Ferramonti]. I close with heartfelt thanks for the work you have performed on our behalf thus far.
With previously mentioned regard,
Dr. Lazar Konn.
Attachment: A list of names
This database includes the names of 201 individuals. The original data included an introductory letter and an attached list of names, all in typewritten German. The fields of the database are as follows:
The ITS index claims that there are 198 names on the list; however, the transcriber found and transcribed 201 names. The contemporaneous letter claims 200 names. It is unclear which names created the differences. All records and information from the list were extracted, and as far as can be seen, no data are believed to be missing.
The information in this database originally comes from a file from the International Tracing Service (ITS), held in its archives in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The official name of the original list is "Liste von Personen v. Rhodos, die in das Lager Ferramonti überstellt wurden 12.1.1942," which was translated by the ITS as "List of persons from Rhodes who were transferred to the camp Ferramonti 12.1.1942."
The list was obtained by the ITS from "IKRK Geneva," the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland. The ITS file location is "OCC 36/9 Ordner 1,"sheet name "5.55-9.74," and inventory number "57." Full data about the file can be accessed at this page in the ITS index website: http://resources.ushmm.org/itsinventory/inventory1.php?Inventory__Id=3215.
The transcription of the names was made from high-resolution JPG scans obtained from the ITS by Brooke Schreier Ganz. The translation of the letter from German into English was performed by Erin M. Blakemore.
In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible. Special thanks to Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy. Particular thanks to the Research Division headed by Joyce Field and to Nolan Altman, coordinator of Holocaust files.
This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database.
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Last Update: 07 Sept 2008 by MFK