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The grave of Jewish man David Stoliar, who died on May 1, 2014, at his home in Bend, was a mystery

 - Grave of David Stoliar, a World War II survivor, is a local mystery.On a recent historical tour to Mill Creek Cemetery, a recent grave was noted. It had a star of David on the stone designating a Jewish background. It led to a curiosity about why the grave was at the cemetery.

David Stoliar was born in Kishinev, Romania, on Oct. 31, 1922. His father was a Jewish textile manufacturer in Bucharest. His parents divorced, and Stoliar lived with his mother in Paris for several years. He returned to Bucharest in 1936 and finished high school. As Germany rose to prominence prior to World War II, Stoliar was taken to forced labor camps and dug trenches. His father became very concerned as brutality against Jews spread.

His father managed to secure passage for Stoliar on board the steamer Struma. The Struma left Constanza on Dec. 11, 1941, with more than 790 Romanian, Bulgarian and Russia Jews. They were all crammed into a squalid, leaky former cattle boat with bunks stacked 10 high. There were little or no amenities. The boat had no life preservers and only two small lifeboats. Passengers had paid up to $1,000 each to gain access on the boat.

The Struma had mechanical problems and limped toward Turkey. The engines failed ,and Turkish tugs towed the boat to Istanbul. The Jewish passengers were held in the boat until it could be determined what to do with them. Many of the Jews were trying to get to Palestine to avoid persecution.

The Turks finally decided to cut the Struma's anchor and towed the ship back into the Black Sea and then left it adrift. It was soon spotted by a Soviet submarine whose commander had standing orders to sink all neutral ships in the Black Sea to prevent suppliers reaching Germany.

On Feb. 24, 1942, a torpedo exploded midship on the Struma. Most of the passengers and crew went down with the ship. Scores more, including Stoliar, aged 19, were hurled into the sea. People were screaming and scattered in the waters above the sinking ship. Stoliar managed to pull himself onto some debris. Twenty-four hours after the sinking, he was rescued by a ship passing nearby. He was the only survivor of the sinking.

The sinking of the ship became a rallying call for Jews around the world. Stoliar finally reached Palestine and eventually joined the British Army's Jewish Brigade in 1943. He also later fought in the Israeli Army in 1948 during the war of independence.

He later became an oil executive and lived in Japan for several years. He married Adria Nacmias in 1945, and they had one son. His wife died in 1961. In 1968, he married Marda Emslie. They moved to Oregon in 1971.

The mystery of his burial at Mill Creek Cemetery is tied to his second wife, Marda. Marda was the sister of Dave Emslie, who was married to Eva McDaniel Emslie, whose family had a long history in Central Oregon. Both Dave and Eva Emslie are buried in the cemetery.

David Stoliar died on May 1, 2014, at his home in Bend. He was buried near the Emslie's at the request of his wife, Marda.

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