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Advertisement for a lecture by Exodus 1947 crew member John Stanley Grauel entitled, "I was captured by the British Navy" at Temple Beth El in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA.

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    Advertisement for a lecture by Exodus 1947 crew member John Stanley Grauel entitled, "I was captured by the British Navy" at Temple Beth El in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA.
    Advertisement for a lecture by Exodus 1947 crew member John Stanley Grauel entitled, "I was captured by the British Navy" at Temple Beth El in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA.


    Advertisement for a lecture by Exodus 1947 crew member John Stanley Grauel entitled, "I was captured by the British Navy" at Temple Beth El in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA.
    1948 November 19
    Norfolk, VA United States
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Saliba Sarsar
    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: Saliba Sarsar
    Source Record ID: Collections: 1999.A.218

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    John Stanley Grauel (1917-1986), an American Methodist minister who served on the crew of the Exodus 1947, the illegal immigrant ship that attempted to bring Jewish DPs from Europe to Palestine. Grauel was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to John and Jemina (Tiny) Grauel. His early life was deeply impacted by the Great Depression, which left his father unemployed and his family homeless for many years. In 1936 Grauel graduated from the Methodist Randolph-Macon Military Academy in Front Royal, Virginia. Soon after, his father died and Grauel moved back to Massachusetts, where he worked on the fringes of state politics and in Worcester law enforcement for several years. At his mother's insistence, Grauel enrolled at the Bangor (Maine) Theological Seminary in 1941 to study for the ministry. Soon after completing his studies Grauel became pastor for a group of five churches in the Stonington, Maine area. In 1942 as American involvement in World War II intensified, Grauel became increasingly concerned with the plight of European Jewry and sympathetic to the aspirations of the Zionist movement. Grauel's interest in the Jews and in Zionism was spawned by his close friendship with Judge Joseph Goldberg of Worcester. Grauel joined the Christian Council of Palestine (later the American Christian Palestine Committee, an organization dedicated to the establishment of a Jewish state) and in 1943 gave up his ministry to take a position as director of its Philadelphia office. The following year, Grauel attended his first Zionist meeting, which took place in Princeton, New Jersey. There, he met David Ben-Gurion and learned about the efforts of the Haganah, the underground Jewish army in Palestine. Soon after, Grauel met with a Haganah recruitment officer. He was taken with the mission of the organization's Mosad Le-Aliyah Bet (the Center for Illegal Immigration to Palestine), which since its founding in 1938, had organized the smuggling of Jewish refugees into Palestine in defiance of British immigration restrictions. Grauel enlisted in that effort, sensing that he had finally found his niche in life. From this point until the establishment of the Jewish state, he led a double-life, working for the American Christian Palestine Committee and clandestinely for the Jewish underground. His work for the Haganah soon led to his recruitment to the crew of the Exodus 1947 (originally named the President Warfield). The ship set sail from Baltimore on March 23, 1947. Grauel's official cover was as a foreign correspondent for the Episcopal journal, "The Churchman." When the ship docked in Marseille, Grauel flew to Paris, where he helped organize the transfer of Jewish refugees from displaced persons camps to the port of embarkation on the southern coast of France. Once the Exodus 1947 departed for Palestine, Grauel took on the role of ship's cook. He also served in an unofficial capacity as mediator between the crew and the passengers. During the struggle that ensued after the British Navy intercepted the ship off the coast of Haifa, Grauel tended to the wounded. He was enraged by the injustice of the British interception and the Navy's willingness to employ violence to subdue the passengers. Grauel was detained by the British as soon as he disembarked in Haifa and was placed under house arrest at the Savoy Hotel. There, Grauel held an impromptu press conference, describing his experience aboard the Exodus 1947. With the help of the Haganah, Grauel snuck away from his British escorts after the meeting. The escape was arranged to allow Grauel to give testimony before the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), which was then visiting the country. Grauel remained in Palestine only nine days before returning to the US. In the meantime, he had become a hero to the Haganah for his effectiveness in promoting sympathy for the plight of Jewish DPs and the cause of unrestricted immigration to Palestine. In America, Grauel maintained close ties to the Haganah and continued to speak publicly and participate in fundraising projects on behalf of the Jewish state, both before and after it attained independence. In subsequent decades Grauel lived in many places and was drawn to a variety of humanitarian causes, including the plight of the American Indian and civil rights for African-Americans. However, his chief concern remained the Jewish people. In the 1950s and 1960s he undertook missions to North Africa to investigate the situation of Jews living in Morocco and Algeria. In 1967 he campaigned energetically to raise money and support for Israel during the Six Days War. Finally, in 1975 he led one of the first tours of Jewish students to the sites of Nazi concentration camps in Europe. The Jewish community also rallied to his aid when Grauel suffered severe financial difficulties in the last decades of his life. Grauel received many prestigious awards for his efforts on behalf of the Jewish state, including the Humanity Medal, the Fighter for Israel Medal, and the Medal of Jerusalem.

    [Source: Grauel, John Stanley. "Grauel: An Autobiography As Told To Eleanor Elfenbein." Ivory House, 1982.]
    Record last modified:
    2005-02-07 00:00:00
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