S.S. Astir Passenger Manifest, 1939

Introduction By Paul Silverstone

· Background
· Database
· Acknowledgements
· Searching the Database


The persons listed in this database are from a report by the British minister in Bucharest, J.H. LeRougetel, dated 01-Aug-1939, described as "a list of refugees now interned in Greece, who prior to their embarkation in S.S. Astir for Palestine were genuinely domiciled in Rumania."  He states that these people will be readmitted to Romania.  Most of them eventually made their way to Palestine.  This list does not include all passengers on this ship, but apparently only those who could be sent back to Romania.  As seen below, this did not happen.

On 01-Apr-1939, the steamer Astir arrived at Haifa with 724 passengers who did not have entry permits for Palestine.  She had sailed from Varna, Bulgaria, on 06-Mar-1939.  The passengers included 200 hand-picked members of Betar from Poland, and a large group of refugees from Danzig.  There was no reception party at the beach, and the ship was arrested after being fired upon.

Held for 12 days in Haifa, the Astir was forced to sail, without proper provisions.  For sixteen weeks she wandered about the Aegean unable to land her passengers.  Running out of provisions and water she went from island to island trying to pick up supplies.  Four women gave birth during this period and hunger strikes and violence occurred among the passengers.  On June 13th the ship was at Piraeus.  There, the owners desperate to be rid of their passengers and afraid of the vessel being seized by the British, commandeered the rat-infested schooner Marsis which was towed away to be used for the landing in Palestine.  The passengers were transferred to the Marsis off the coast and the Astir sailed away.  Police patrols came upon the schooner which was apparently sinking, and rescued the 385 refugees who were taken to Sarafand Camp.  The Marsis was sunk by the destroyer Icarus as a menace to navigation.


This database includes 184 refugees interned in Greece that boarded the S.S. Astir for Palestine.  The passengers were mostly Romanian.  The fields of the database are as follows:


This list may be found in the archives of the Colonial Office in the British Archives (formerly the Public Record Office), reference CO 733/395.  Paul Silverstone, a JewishGen volunteer, compiled the list.

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.

Nolan Altman
October, 2007

Searching the Database

This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database and the JewishGen Romania Database.

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Last Update: 26 Apr 2008 by MFK