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Blue and white Zionist flag with a Star of David from the ship Exodus 1947

Object | Accession Number: 2016.1.1

Blue and white Zionist flag taken down from the mast of the Exodus 1947 on July 18, 1947, by Mike Weiss, a Jewish American crew member, after the ship was forced into the port in Haifa. Weiss removed the flag before the passengers and crew were forced to disembark. This flag design was later adopted as the Flag of the State of Israel, which was created on May 10, 1948. Weiss had volunteered for the clandestine effort to smuggle Holocaust survivors from Europe to Palestine. He was a boatswain-carpenter on the ship, which was under the command of Haganah, an underground Jewish paramilitary organization. The Exodus 1947 sailed from Sete, France, on July 11, with over 4,500 Jewish passengers, all displaced persons and Holocaust survivors, seeking to illegally immigrate to Palestine. It was pursued by a British naval convoy. Great Britain controlled Palestine and had strict limits on immigration. Around 2 am, as the Exodus neared Palestine, it appeared to be making a run for shore and was surrounded by British destroyers. When sailors boarded, fighting broke out. Exodus radio messages reported that they were being attacked and shot at without warning. By 9 am, the radio was silent and the ship, now in British custody, was escorted to the port of Haifa. The Exodus 1947 sailed into port playing the Hatikvah and flying this flag in place of the Honduran flag under which the ship was registered. Three people, the Exodus’s 2nd officer and two passengers, were killed, and over thirty wounded. The passengers were put on three ships and taken back to France, where they refused to disembark. Protests and worldwide news coverage made the Exodus 1947 a symbol of the postwar refugee crisis and the need for a resolution to the conflict over Palestine among Jews, Arabs, and the British. After three weeks, the British issued an ultimatum: disembark or be transported to Hamburg, Germany. On August 22, 1947, the ships sailed for Hamburg, arriving on September 8. On December 8, the British removed the refugees from the ships by force and took them to displaced persons camps. Haganah pledged to get them all out of Germany, a task completed on September 8, 1948.

acquired:  1947 July 18
use:  1947 July 18
use: Exodus 1947 (Ship); Haifa (Israel)
Identifying Artifacts
Object Type
Flags (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Bill and Tom Silverstein
Record last modified: 2020-06-30 09:26:13
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