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Exodus 1947 crew member Bernard Marks (third from the right) poses with a group of Palestinan Jews while in hiding at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 97348

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    Exodus 1947 crew member Bernard Marks (third from the right) poses with a group of Palestinan Jews while in hiding at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet.
    Exodus 1947 crew member Bernard Marks (third from the right) poses with a group of Palestinan Jews while in hiding at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet.


    Exodus 1947 crew member Bernard Marks (third from the right) poses with a group of Palestinan Jews while in hiding at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet.
    Circa July 1947
    Variant Locale
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Bernard Marks
    Event History
    The Exodus 1947 was an illegal immigrant ship carrying 4500 Jewish displaced persons from Europe to Palestine during the final year of the British Mandate. It became the symbol of the struggle for the right of unrestricted Jewish immigration into Palestine and the need for a Jewish national home. In November 1946 the Mosad le-Aliya Bet (the Agency for Illegal Immigration) acquired an American ship, the President Warfield, an old Chesapeake Bay pleasure steamer. During World War II, the vessel had been converted into a troop ship for the British navy. After taking part in the Allied landing at Normandy, the ship was taken out of service and anchored in the ships' graveyard in Baltimore. Immediately after the Mosad purchased the vessel, its interior was reconfigured in order to maximize the number of passengers it could hold. By the end of January 1947 the initial conversion was complete and a crew of nearly 40 American Jewish volunteers had been assembled in Baltimore. The crew was joined by a Methodist minister, John Stanley Grauel, who served as the official observer for the American Christian Palestine Committee. It was the Mosad's intention to mount a huge illegal immigration operation that would draw the attention of the international media and influence the members of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), who would then be visiting Palestine on a fact-finding mission. In early July 1947, Jewish DPs were moved from camps in Germany to transit camps in the south of France. With the cooperation of several French Socialist cabinet ministers, they boarded the President Warfield at the old port of Sete, near Marseilles. Once it was out to sea, the vessel was renamed the Exodus 1947. The ship was intercepted by the British navy off the coast of Palestine. The sailors were able to board the vessel, tow it to Haifa, and unload its passengers only after an extended struggle, which left two passengers and one crew member dead and many injured. In the port of Haifa the illegal immigrants were transferred by force to three British vessels--the Ocean Vigour, Runnymede Park, and Empire Rival-- to be taken back to France. This marked a significant change in British policy from what had been the standard procedure since August 1946, namely, the deportation of all apprehended illegal immigrants to detention camps in Cyprus. When the ships arrived in France on July 28, most of the passengers chose to remain on board. The French refused to accede to the British demand to force them out. For a month the three ships remained anchored near Port-de-Bouc. The refugee passengers suffered under grueling conditions. Finally, after a hunger strike, the British decided to return the refugees to DP camps in Germany. The ships arrived in Hamburg on September 8 and their passengers were forcibly removed by British soldiers. From Hamburg, they were taken by prisoner trains with barred windows to the Poppendorf and Amstau DP camps in the British zone. Most of the Exodus refugees remained in the DP camps for over a year, reaching Israel only after the state was established in May 1948. In 1951 the Mayor of Haifa announced that the Exodus 1947 was to become "a floating museum, a symbol of the desperate attempts by Jewish refugees to find asylum in the Holy Land." The project was put on hold while attention was focused on issues of national security. However, on August 26, 1952, the ship caught fire and burned to the waterline. It was towed out of the shipping area and abandoned on Shemen beach. On August 23, 1964, an attempt was made to salvage the Exodus 1947 for scrap, but during the process, the hulk broke loose and sank. It remains on the bottom of Shemen beach near Haifa.

    [Source: "Poppendorf statt Palastina" (The Haganah Ship Exodus 1947), an online exhibition by Henrik Jan Fahlbusch et al. (25 November 2002)]

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Bernard Marks

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Bernard Marks (b.1924) an American recruit to the Haganah, the Palestinian-Jewish underground, who served as first mate aboard the Exodus 1947, the illegal immigrant ship to Palestine. A graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy, Marks served three years on the North Atlantic during World War II. Following his discharge, he returned to his native Cincinnati and enrolled in an engineering program at the University of Cincinnati. At this time he was recruited by a Haganah agent to assist in the underground effort to bring Jewish displaced persons languishing in European camps to Palestine aboard ships that were to be purchased, outfitted and crewed by sympathetic Americans. Before joining the crew of the Exodus 1947, Marks sailed as second mate aboard the Haganah (formerly called the Norsyd). Following the ship's arrival in Palestine, Marks was hidden briefly and then smuggled out of the country, first to Greece and later to the US. He was back in Cincinnati for only a few months when he was tapped to serve on a second ship. In December 1946 Marks reported to the Baltimore shipyards to join the crew of the President Warfield, a former pleasure steamer that at one time had been the flagship of the Chesapeake Bay Lines. After partial refitting and a near-disastrous shakedown cruise, the Warfield departed for France, where the refitting of the ship was completed. In late July 1947, the ship, now renamed the Exodus 1947, left for Palestine with over 4500 displaced persons. While still in international waters off the coast of Palestine, the vessel was stopped by the British. When they attempted to board the ship, the crew and passengers fought them off all night with potatoes, tins of food, clubs and fists. During the melee the captain of the ship went into hiding in the hold of the vessel, leaving the twenty-three-year-old Marks in control. After the British subdued the ship, Marks guided the vessel into the port of Haifa. During the disembarkation process Marks slipped away with the help of Haganah members posing as dock workers and was taken to Kibbutz Ein Hashofet. He was later discovered by the British and imprisoned briefly before returning to the US. The following year Marks piloted a former US Navy patrol craft (called the Yucatan) from Mexico to France, with a cargo of illegal arms for the Haganah. (The vessel was later renamed the Noga and, along with two other American-sponsored ships, the Haganah and the Josiah Wedgewood, became the nucleus of the new Israeli navy after the declaration of the state in May 1948.) From France, Marks sailed to Israel aboard the Mala. Upon his arrival, he joined up with some of his former Exodus 1947 crew to train with the fledgling Israeli paratrooper corps. After the ceasefire, Marks served on several Israeli ships before returning to the US. Thereafter, he spent several years as a fundraiser for the United Jewish Appeal and then opened a real estate agency in his native Cincinnati.
    Record last modified:
    2003-12-09 00:00:00
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