The steamship Tánaïs carried the Jews of Crete to their tragic death when it was sunk in the morning hours of 9 June 1944.
The ship was built in 1907 in Sunderland, North East England, and launched in the same year under the name “Hollywood.” It was 74.5 metres long, 11.5 metres wide and 5.5m high. In 1935, it changed ownership and flew a Greek flag. Its new owners named it Tánaïs, the ancient Greek name of Russia’s Don River.
With the outbreak of the Greek-Italian War in 1940, the Tánaïs was requisitioned by the Greek state and used for the transport of troops and supplies, including to Souda Bay near Hania. It was there that it sank after German bombardments at the beginning of the Battle of Crete. It was later salvaged by the German Occupation Forces and again used as a transport ship.
In the evening of 8 June 1944 the Tánaïs departed from Heraklion harbour heading for Priraeus with the Jewish captives on board, along with Greek Christians, who had been arrested in reprisal for the kidnapping of German General Kreipe, and Italian prisoners of war, in a convoy with three other ships. The Tánaïs was not marked as a prisoner transport.
In the early morning of 9 June, the British submarine Vivid sighted the Tánaïs. At 3:14 am, two torpedoes launched by the Vivid hit the ship, which sank about 60 km northeast of Heraklion, taking with it all prisoners on board.
Source: public domain, google maps
Photo 2: © Archives of the National Maritime Museum in London
Source: public domain
Photo 4: © The Jewish Museum of Greece