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Jewish DPs protest the forced return to Germany of the passengers of the Exodus 1947 at a demonstration at the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 83125

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    Jewish DPs protest the forced return to Germany of the passengers of the Exodus 1947 at a demonstration at the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp.
    Jewish DPs protest the forced return to Germany of the passengers of the Exodus 1947 at a demonstration at the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp.


    Jewish DPs protest the forced return to Germany of the passengers of the Exodus 1947 at a demonstration at the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp.
    Henry Ries
    1947 September 07
    Bergen-Belsen, [Prussian Hanover; Lower Saxony] Germany ?
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Nathan Baruch
    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: Nathan Baruch
    National Archives and Records Administration, College Park
    Copyright: Public Domain
    Source Record ID: 306-NT-649-B-10
    The New York Times
    Copyright: Exclusively with source
    Published Source
    Photographien aus Berlin, Deutschland und Europa, 1946-1951 [Katalog Janos Frecot] - Riess, Henry - Argon

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Henry (Heinz) Ries was born in Berlin-Wilmersdorf in 1917 and grew up in a middle-class Jewish family. He had aspirations of becoming a photographer, but the rise of Hitler destroyed those plans. In January 1938 he left for the United States., where he found employment in Bridgeport, CT. Ries subsequently joined the American Army in December 1941. He served in the Pacific theater until March, 1945, when he was transferred to Berlin. He worked as a German specialist at the Berlin Document Center until March 1946. Ries then accepted an offer from the OMGUS Observer, a weekly illustrated magazine, to work as its chief reporter. Later he was hired by the New York Times to serve as the paper's first photo journalist for all of Western Europe and Berlin. He focused much attention on the fate of Europe's Jews as displaced persons. He photographed the arrival of the Exodus passengers in Palestine in the summer of 1947. His last years in Europe were spent photographing the escalation of the Cold War. He returned to New York in 1952.
    Record last modified:
    2008-12-10 00:00:00
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