Saving Dunera’s Jews: Tales of the Sea

The dramatic true story of how German Jews were rescued from Nazi submarines in 1940.

In this video, Shlomo Horwitz of Jewish Crossroads assumes the identity of a survivor as well as the U-boat commander. Produced by Chaim Kalish of BuildaFilm Studios.

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Visit Shlomo’s site at

Comments (26)

(19) Geoffrey Pearl, May 12, 2020 3:56 PM

HMS Dunera

Very nice story, but unfortunately with numerous errors. My father was on this ship, together with some 4 thousand German and Austrian refugees who were being deported, and had ben told that they would be taken to Canada. In the English channel, the ship was torpedoed but the torpedo did not explode. Upon arrival in Australia, the men were taken to an inland site. The red cross came to the camp with pocket money for the"German" inmates as the u-boat commander had informed the German authorities that the passengers were probably German POWs on the basis of the personal efffects that they had found floating in the sea. Around 200,of the inmates who were actual nazis were happy to receive the money, but the vast majority of the refugee innmates did not take any of the money. Subsequently they were offered passage back to the UK, provided they volunteered for the British forces.

(18) Rivkah Jacobson, December 4, 2016 2:46 PM

thank you for a very well made video. Lest we forget!

I spoke to a member of that refugee group, Mr Uri Weinberg O"h.some years ago.Your video is very accurate and perpetuates the memory of this period of suffering for our people.
I seem to remember that on its return journey ,without the Jewish passengers, reading that the boat was torpedoed but I believe that Mr Weinberg said this was not the case. Do you know what happened to the crew. Were they ever punished?

Shlomo Horwitz, December 22, 2016 11:27 PM


Hi; the ship was not torpedoed; that's a myth. I'm not aware that the crew was ever punished. Thanks for your interest.

(17) Yosef Shirazi, February 14, 2016 6:37 PM

And He Led them out of Egypt with a Mighty Hand.

And He Led them out of Egypt with a Mighty Hand.

(16) Yosef Shirazi, February 14, 2016 6:29 PM

Very Powerful Story

This is truly a great miracle, very similar of the splitting of the Red Sea when we came out of Egypt. This video must be shared and not underestimated.

(15) Anonymous, February 8, 2016 10:38 AM

I know some Dunera boys and their kids and grandchildren here in Melbourne Australia

Thank you for this

I have the pleasure of knowing some of the Original 'Dunera Boys' and their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren here in Australia,
My Mum's Mum , my GrandMother Rochel ZL of Blessed memory was in Shepparton a township (2 hours from Melbourne) during the WAr years and ended up cooking for about 20 Dunera boys and others released from Hay Camp.

(14) Brenda |Behar, November 29, 2015 1:22 AM

My father Jack Benjamin was just 16 when he was a Dunera Boy and interned at Hay. He was rejected to return back to England to fight in the army and so was spared a voyage on the ill fated ship thaty was torpedoed with only 1 survivor. I am so sad to report his passing yesterday at the age of 91. He merited many miracles during the war and always acknowledged the hand of God protecting him. He will be missed.

(13) Neria, October 16, 2015 6:07 PM

Thank you

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story with all of us! I cried while watching this. We need to be reminded of trusting G-d like this every, every, every day. How beautiful to be see how we can watch blessings unfold, without expectations. Shabbat Shalom and Todah Rabah

(12) Geoff Winter, September 29, 2015 7:22 AM

Dunera Association - Australia

The Dunera Association is a small not-for-profit organisation run to keep all the Dunera family together - the few remaining Dunera Boys themselves, Dunera Boys' descendants and any other interested people. We encourage membership and/or participation from all interested people wherever they live; we do send our newsletters and other material to our overseas members, etc., and warmly welcome articles, documentation, memorabilia, etc. Our newsletters (usually three times each year) can be sent via e-mail (in colour) or hard-copy (black and white only). Anyone interested may contact the Association (based in Melbourne, Australia) at or our President on

(11) David Fisch, September 11, 2015 11:45 AM

Leo Fisch

My father Mr. Leo Fisch was on this ship-Dunera,he was fron Austria and was shipped from Isle-of-Man to Tatura in Austrlia.
After the war he came to Israel where he lived in Tel-Aviv.
I'll appreciate to be in touch with other Donera boys and their sons
as well as to have other infomation about the unbelievable story.
I wish you a happy new year.

(10) Anthony Field, September 10, 2015 12:57 PM

Amazing !

My father, Willy Field (Hirschfeld) was on-board the Dunera. He spoke very often of the mal-treatment during the trip and of his time spent in Hay, Australia whilst interned.
He wrote a book about his life, including the Dunera Episode. The book is called From Dachau to D-Day.

I can also recommend that people look at the Dunera Association facebook page to find out more about the men who were interned and how they survived and thrived during the War and since. Fascinating stories and great people.

(9) Anonymous, July 12, 2015 5:20 PM

I read this on July 12 th 2015- the day the Germans tried to torpedo the Dunera! My Father a.h. was on the boat and subsequently in Australia,, where he ran the Kosher kitchen ...he also received a miracle on his return journey. There is a book and a film about the Dunera. We have passed this on to our next generations and give thanks again today for this miracle.

(8) Anonymous, April 27, 2015 2:44 PM

in appreciation

My dad, Chris Wolkenstein, who was on the Dunera, would have loved this. He was also very young, him and his brother 16 and 17. The torpedo episode is reflected in his diary, and all the poor treatment on the Dunera. Thank you for preserving this snapshot of history.

(7) Ronald Reichwald, April 27, 2015 7:47 AM

Of great interest to The Dunera Association

A great resource. The Dunera Association in Melbourne Australia operates to keep the Dunera story alive. We have annual reunions in Hay New South Wales and Tatura Victoria. Melbourne has the largest group of surviving Dunera Boys estimated at 15-20 out of 50-60 world-wide. Please refer to our Facebook page, Friends of Dunera or email us on

(6) Anonymous, February 8, 2015 10:08 AM

Really fascinating and makes people to think a lot about the terrible past in 2nd world war. Please send it around the world to remember the terrible past. A.B.

(5) Deborah Litwack, January 27, 2015 3:01 PM

Amaziing miracles!!!

Thanks for sharing this!!!

Anonymous, January 31, 2015 10:16 AM

We and our offsprings have always to remember, so that such atrocities can never-ever happen again. Please keep those comments always reachible to people who will not believe, what happend 70 and more years ago. Thank you for passing it on to youngsters, who have never heard of this terrible past of the German people.

Anonymous, February 24, 2015 6:20 AM

I'll try my best

I'll try my best to keep history alive and to make sure that at least one person continues to pass it on. Though I hope I won't be the only one. It's imperative

(4) Miriam Israel, January 26, 2015 12:11 AM

Upon a second, more critical viewing

After a second viewing of your video account of the Dunara, I would like to point out that my father's account of these events differed somewhat from the account in the video. The Orthodox Jewish German internees aboard the ship were greatly mosser nefesh to keep the mitzvot under such difficult conditions, especially the mitzvah of kashrus. By the time they came to Australia, they were completely malnourished. However, from your account, one might assume that there had been a widespread questioning of the ways of G-d on board, including among the religious internees. I feel that, although unintended, this is a dramatization that does not comport fully with the facts of these events as told by the survivors, such as my father, to their families. Sincerely, Miriam Israel

Shlomo Horwitz, January 27, 2015 5:31 PM


Dear Mrs. Israel,

Thank you for your comments about my video, and for sharing your father's story as a Dunera survivor. The video was based on two eyewitness accounts, and in no way meant to impugn the mesirut nefesh (dedication and sacrifice) of those who maintained their faith and mitzva observance during and after the voyage. I agree with you that many suffered intensely, but clung steadfastly to their Judaism.

That said, I don't think that the question 'Why?' demonstrates a lack of faith. In fact, we find that even Moshe Rabbenu (Moses) questioned G-d after Pharaoh increased the workload of the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 5:22). King David questions G-d (Psalms 22:2-3), as does Jeremiah (Lamentations 5:2). More recently, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev was famous for his questioning of G-d. For many people, this form of questioning is healthy and does not shake their faith. Doubtless there were people on the Dunera like your father that did not question G-d, but the accounts I referenced demonstrate how at least some survivors found solace from all that suffering when the full story came out.

Thanks again for your comments. People like your father are a credit to the Jewish People.

Shlomo Horwitz

miriam israel, January 28, 2015 12:29 AM

Thank you for your kind reply

Thank you for your kind reply. I'm sure had my father lived to hear of this great miracle it would have been a great solace to him too. Miriam Israel

cvmay, February 3, 2015 4:39 AM

Watched it twice

Miriam, I watched it several times and shared it with household members, I did not see, hear or pick up any widespread questioning of the ways of Hashem from those on board. Just a typical "What was Hashem trying to teach us"? This video was an excellent tool for building emunah and ahavas hashem.

(3) miriam israel, January 25, 2015 10:51 PM

My father was on the Dunera

My father Adi Strauss was on the Dunera . He was 33 years old, married with three little children. I was born 13 years later.Growing up there was nothing I liked more than my father telling me stories about his experiences in the war years, particularly his voyage on the "Dunera." My father told me that one time the boat started rocking from side to side. The internees down in the hold were petrified. Several minutes later the door to the hold was opened and the British sailers told the internees not to worry, although a torpedo had been fired at the ship it had missed and the rocking of the ship was caused by anti depth charges that the British threw intothe sea to blow up any German submarines in the neighborhood. Also he told me that no provisions had been made by the British for kosher food. The internees that kept kosher were literally starving. During the week they ate raw garlic and drank tea. On Sunday they got a half of a fresh lemon. Every morning they had to exercise on deck.They had to run barefoot around the deck for a certain amount of time.In each corner of the deck sat a semi drunk sailer with a machine gun pointing towards the internees. The deck was littered with broken glass from the whiskey bottles the sailers drank during the night. The inernees were always afraid that due to the drunken state of the soldiers,one of them might fire on them by mistake. When they boarded the ship in England they had no idea that they were going to Australia. My father thought he was going to Canada as did many others.When .My father passed away in 1967 so he never knew about this amazing Hashgacha Pratis. but I read about it about 20 years ago in a book called "The Dunera Internees." The video was very meaningful for me and its message is powerful.May it be a chizuk to all of Klal Yisrael! Sincerely, Miriam Israel

(2) Elizabeth, January 25, 2015 5:40 PM

thanks for sharing this story!

Very incredible and pause to think about just what is HaShem accomplishing in our lives even when it is hard and things make no sense.

(1) Anonymous, January 25, 2015 11:10 AM

very very inspiring! added to my faith & belief

this is a great example of God's kindness in a 'hidden' manner! btw, i lived in Germany for 6 yrs - Berlin & Bonn (i'm turning 69 in March). as an aside, my dear father worked for the State Dept./Foreign Service which is why I was living in Germany. as another aside, i've been told it was unusual for Jew to be working at the State Dept.during that time period. I've never verified that idea though. 3 more 'asides': a) when i was 6 yrs old I was in Switzerland for eye surgery (from Germany). the hospital was staffed with nuns. They wanted me to cross myself to the figure of J-s on the wall. I was on my own (parents were back in Germany), a conservative Jewish child of approx. 6 yrs of age; in German I told the nuns: "NO! I am a Jew!!" b) 2nd aside: i became a b'aal teshuva in 1987 and have loved living an observant life ever since! c) i've been very very very blessed to actually see many of my prayers to Hashem openly answered with a 'positive'/yes response! (my friends say "you have a hot-line to Hashem"). May Hashem protect all jews, i"h.

Anonymous, January 25, 2015 12:41 PM


Anonymous, thank you for sharing. That's an incredible story!

I'm going to be taking a German culture class this semester. Should be interesting!


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