SS Kurtuluş

SS Kurtuluş

"This article is about the Turkish freighter SS Kurtuluş. For İstanbul neighborhood of the same name, see Kurtuluş. Kurtuluş is also the name of a unofficial/notional zone (semt) around the park of the same name (Kurtuluş Parkı) in Sıhhiye in Ankara's metropolitan Çankaya district." SS "Kurtuluş" was a Turkish cargo ship that became famous for her humanitarian role in carrying food aid during the great famine that Greece suffered under the Occupation of Greece by Nazi Germany in World War II. She sank on February 20, 1942 in the Sea of Marmara while on her fifth voyage from İstanbul, Turkey to Piraeus, Greece.

The ship

The steamer "Kurtuluş", built in 1883 by Caird & Purdie Shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, was a 76.5 m (250 feet) long dry-freight carrier with 2,735 gross tons capacity . After having served under different flags and names, she was purchased by the prominent Turkish shipowning family the Kalkavan brothers in 1924, and was later re-sold in 1934 to another family, the Tavilzade brothers, who named her "Kurtuluş" (literally: Liberation). She served as a freighter in the Turkish seas as one of the first ships of the newly established Turkish Republic. In 1941, "Kurtuluş" was leased by the government for humanitarian relief action in the food crisis in Greece.

The mission

Greece experienced the "Great Famine" (Greek: Μεγάλος Λιμός) during the occupation by Nazi Germany in April, 1941 and the sea blockade by the Royal Navy. The famine is reported to have caused the death of 70,000 people according to the official, Nazi-controlled, Greek sources of the period and over 300,000 according to the historian Mark Mazower. [ cite book|title=Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44 ISBN 0300089326|author=Mark Mazower|publisher=Yale University Press|year=1995|language=English ]

The National Greek War Relief Association, an organization formed in October, 1940 by the Greek Orthodox Church, started to raise funds in the United States, and to organize relief efforts to supply the suffering Greek population with food and medicine. The British were reluctant to lift the blockade since it was the only form of pressure they had on the Axis Powers. However, a compromise could be reached to allow shipments of grain to come from the neutral nation of Turkey, despite the fact that it was within the blockade zone.

Turkish president İsmet İnönü signed a decision to help the people whose army he had personally fought during the Turkish War of Independence 19 years previous. The people of Turkey thus became the first to lend a helping hand to Greece. Foodstuffs were collected by a nationwide campaign of Kızılay (Turkish Red Crescent), and were sent to the port of İstanbul to be shipped to Greece. SS "Kurtuluş" was prepared for her voyage with big symbols of the Red Crescent painted on both sides.

After receiving permission from London to interrupt the blockade, the ship left Karaköy Pier on October 6, 1941. Upon landing in Piraeus, the port city near Athens, the International Red Cross took charge of unloading and the distribution of the foodstuffs. In the following months, SS "Kurtuluş" made 3 more voyages to Greece delivering around 7,100 tons of food aid in total.

On her fifth voyage, after leaving İstanbul two days ago, the old ship was caught in heavy weather and rough seas in the Sea of Marmara. On the night of February 20, 1942, "Kurtuluş" was blown onto rocks off Saraylar village, north of Marmara Island. She sank the next morning at 9:15. All 34 crew members reached Marmara Island. The place was later named Cape Kurtuluş in her memory.

Despite the loss of SS "Kurtuluş", Turkey maintained her determination to help, and continued sending aid until 1946 with other ships like SS "Dumlupınar", SS "Tunç", SS "Konya", SS "Güneysu" and SS "Aksu". One ship, the SS "Dumlupınar" brought around 1,000 sick Greek children aged 13-16 to İstanbul to recuperate in a safe place [ cite web | url= Articles | title = S/S Kurtuluş: A hope for Greece|authors=|publisher=| access date=2007-04-22|language=English ] .


Turkish writer-researcher-film director Erhan Cerrahoğlu undertook research work to produce a documentary about SS "Kurtuluş" and the relief campaign she was involved in. The wrecksite was identified, in the summer of 2005, by divers Prof. Erdoğan Okuş and his team. Unfortunately, the shipwreck was found demolished.

The documentary film "Kurtuluş Vapuru Belgeseli" ("SS "Kurtuluş": The Steamship that Carried Peace”) features images seen for the first time. The documentary debuted, on June 1, 2006, during the 3rd International Istanbul Bunker Conference [ cite web | url= Article| title = Barışı taşıyan vapur: Kurtuluş ("Kurtuluş: The ship that carried peace") | authors= |publisher= Denizhaber| access date=2007-04-22|language=Turkish] .

hip's register

* 1883 SS "Euripides", Greece
* 1896 SS "Razeto", Italy
* 1897 SS "Bratia Paramonovi", Russia
* 1901 SS "Cephalonia Vagiano", Greece
* 1905 SS "Michael Archangel", Russia
* 1915 "N41", Russian Navy
* 1918 SS "Michael Archangel", Serbia
* 1924 SS "Teşvikiye", Turkey
* 1930 SS "Bülent", Turkey
* 1934 SS "Kurtuluş", Turkey
* 1942 sank in the Sea of Marmara, Turkey


* cite web |url= Story of SS Film|title = 2006 documentary "The story of the steamer Kurtuluş" by Erhan Cerrahoğlu & Prof. Erdoğan Okuş
authors= |publisher= Documentary film web site| access date=2007-04-22|language=English

* [ A History of Greece]


* [ limited preview] cite book|title=A Cause for Our Times: Oxfam the First 50 Years, pages 6-7, ISBN 0855981733|author=Maggie Black|publisher=Oxfam| year=1992 |language=English


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