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British police escort two former passengers of the Exodus 1947 who were brought back to Europe, at the train station in Hamburg.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 45474

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    British police escort two former passengers of the Exodus 1947 who were brought back to Europe, at the train station in Hamburg.
    British police escort two former passengers of the Exodus 1947 who were brought back to Europe, at the train station in Hamburg.

Pictured are Benno Ginsburg (right) and Jacques Rabinovich (left, wearing glasses).


    British police escort two former passengers of the Exodus 1947 who were brought back to Europe, at the train station in Hamburg.

    Pictured are Benno Ginsburg (right) and Jacques Rabinovich (left, wearing glasses).
    1947 September 09
    Hamburg, [Hansestadt] Germany
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Benny Guinossar
    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: Benny Guinossar
    Source Record ID: Collections: 2002.270

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Benny Guinossar (born Benno Ginsburg) is the son of Josef and Cilly (Bauman) Ginsburg. He was born May 20, 1930 in Frankfurt, Germany, where his father owned a greenhouse and worked as the gardener at a Jewish cemetery. Benno had an older brother Alfred (b. 1927). Josef Ginsburg, who was originally from Poland, immigrated illegally to Germany in the inter-war period using false papers in the name of Szczupak. The family observed Jewish holidays and attended synagogue but also celebrated Christmas at home. Early in 1938 Benno was forced to move to a Jewish school, and his parents began applying for visas to get out of Germany. In June of that year Josef was arrested and sent to Dachau. He was released two months later to the amazement of his family, since an SS officer had earlier visited the family with a box of ashes identified as belonging to Josef. Following his release, the family went to Hamburg to purchase tickets for the US, but when they arrived at the port they discovered that the price of the tickets had doubled. Lacking sufficient funds, the family was compelled to return to Frankfurt. On Kristallnacht (November 9-10, 1938) Josef was arrested and sent to Dachau a second time, where he was shot to death on December 29, 1940. After his arrest Cilly was determined to save her sons, at least, and arranged to have them sent on a Kindertransport to France, where they would be cared for by her sister and brother-in-law, Esther and Paul Edelist, who lived in Paris. The children departed on January 3, 1939. In keeping with Cilly's wishes, soon after their arrival Esther and Paul sent the boys on a children's transport to Switzerland. When they reached the border, however, they were denied entry and told to return on foot to France. Rather than turning around, the guides of the transport brought the children illegally into Switzerland and settled them in several different locations. Benno and Alfred were in Switzerland for approximately ten months before they were arrested by the Swiss police and sent back to France by train. Their trip back coincided with the German invasion of France, and their train was hit by German bombs. After spending a few months in Normandy, the boys finally returned to their aunt's house in Paris. For the next year and a half, the boys remained in Paris, but by the early summer of 1942 the situation had deteriorated so drastically that the decision was made to place Benno in hiding on a farm outside the city. He left on July 14. Unwilling to be separated from his brother, Benno tried to jump off the train. In order to convince him to leave, Alfred gave him his watch and promised to join him on the farm, where he would retrieve the watch, in two weeks time. Unfortunately, Alfred and his aunt were rounded-up two days later in the grand raffle of July 16. After being taken to the Velodrome d'Hiver, they were deported to Auschwitz, where they perished. Benno was unhappy on the farm. After about a year, a stranger approached Benno while he was tending the cows and talked to him about the work of the Maquis resistance. Immediately interested in joining, Benno lied about his age, claiming he was 17, though he was only 14 at the time. For the next two years Benno assisted the Maquis in blowing up train tracks and other forms of sabotage. In the fall of 1944, under the pretense of selling small bottles of cognac, Benno entered a German army base and sabotaged their vehicles by emptying small bottles of sugar water into the gas tanks. One of the soldiers caught him and beat him up in an attempt to get him to reveal who had sent him. Benno refused and three days later he was released in the wake of the rapid German retreat. In December 1944 he was sent to Limoges and put in contact with the OSE (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants). From there he was sent to the Malmaison children's home near Paris. When it became clear that none of his relatives had survived, Benno decided to immigrate to Palestine. In 1946 he joined a hachshara (Zionist collective) in Toulouse, and six months later he boarded the illegal immigrant ship that became the Exodus 1947. When he was forced to return to Europe, Benno was sent to the Poppendorf displaced persons camp. He remained there until the end of January 1948, when he set off for Emden, then Bergen-Belsen (where he was issued false papers) and finally Marseilles. There he once again boarded a ship for Palestine, and this time reached his destination.
    Record last modified:
    2005-05-16 00:00:00
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