The true story of Exodus

A documentary telling the true  story of the ship Exodus by interview with those who were on board is in Hebrew so i had transcribed it to English . 

Nowadays ,when the refugees escaping the middle east are compared to those jews who had escaped Europe, it is important to learn  the difference; the Jews escaping Europe  on the ship Exodus were seeking to return to their historical homeland, they did not seek better condition and what’s more, they only had ONE land they saw as theirs, since having been told they were no longer citizens of the lands they had been living in for centuries, and since they were told to go back to that land  and at the same time they were not allowed to enter the land blocked by the British under pressure of the Arab nations, who prevented the jews from returning to their land, which is very different than the refugees escaping their homelands in the middle east , not wishing to live in war but not fighting for their homelands. The Jewish refugees sought to enter their  one and only historical homeland and this is a great difference . 

There must be empathy for those fleeing wars and violence, however i do believe that the solution for the violence in the middle east must be found there, with the help of the  world’s nations  to take down the regimes that attack their own people but those people who escape their homelands must not be compared to people who sought to return to their homeland, not seeking financial conditions or charity but a place where they could escape antisemitism and racist hate. 

To decision of Donald Trump not to take in Moslem refugees must be seen in the context of the middle east mess, and should at the same time seek to help stop the violence in the middle east so that those people who do not want to die in war, will have help returning to their homelands. 

The hollywood film “Exodus” made the story of the ship Exodus seem romantic and beautiful, however 4,500 people were on the ship , many refugees, there were 750  orphaned  children .

The documentary is about the evidence of those surviving children who were on the ship “Exodus” 

One woman tells how she was alone without her family and found her way towards a Polish Monastry and she was befriended by a Polish priest, she was given a dress, with 33 buttons like the years of Jesus. She did not know anything about any other surviving jews. After the war the girl kept in touch with the polish priest, he wrote her “I will love you till my last day”, he would become the  pope John Paul the second . Hanna and the pope kept in touch till his death in 2005, and she says she is connected to Judaism but she is also connected to what she learned as a child. 

Another woman tells how her parents, both dentists, were both murdered in concentration camps, she was hidden with a polish family. 

Another woman tells how she had lived with her mother and father and her brother  slept in a hole on a door, they had nothing and then they became very ill, the father had died, and they had carried him off in a cart and threw his body somewhere. 

The war ended and on the way to school the woman in the monastery was taken to see her mother, she still had the cross with her and she saw her mother who was before the war a beautiful young woman looked like an old lady with grey hair and only had one leg. she did not want a mother like that. she took off the cross and embraced her new found mother. 

In Europe there was one big graveyard, there was nothing there. The end of the war was difficult for the girl Martha who had lived with a polish family, they brought her to a jewish group to be sent to the land of Israel. 

There was pogrom in Poland by locals attacking jews for a blood libel.a child said he had been kidnapped by jews. The locals gathered and shot and threw their victims threw the windows. The photos from the massacre were seen by many jews who concluded that they must escape Europe as soon as possible. 

The partisans groups with the help of the organization from the land of Israel “Haagana”, 250,000 jews  walked through Europe and were living in concentration camps formally liberated. 

Chaim Grui , an Israeli poet, was sent in 1947 from the land of Israel to help the jews in the camps, the meeting changed his life, he met people who had lost everything, he had written poems about the refugees he had met. 

Those who tried to go back to Poland got a vicious reaction from the local Poles who had taken over their homes. 

Ben Gurion , the leader in the land of Israel, had sent people to help the refugees in Europe and money had been collected by American jews to purchase a ship. The path of the ship was secret, since the British had spies everywhere in all the ports and every movement of any ship had been recorded. 

The ship approached the ports of France and the information about the ship had spread to the refugees that there is a ship that will take them to the land of Israel. The british were watching every movement . The gathering of the refugees was through trucks and cars and by word to mouth, there was no communication through machines, they were wearing three or four layers of cloths to avoid luggage. 

Witness: Everyone had a small backpack and she had the cross. everyone walks like ducks , one after another, in the ship there were shelves and the people were crowded into the ship to live in those  overcrowded shelves.there were four in a shelf and after two hours there was an announcement seeking someone with medical knowledge. She went up and the ship moved and there was a woman giving birth to a baby. 

A short time after the ship left the port, British battle ships appeared on the horizon, from above there was a British war plane threatening the ship that if it apprached land they will be attacked. 

The captain of the ship announced the goal was not to let the British on board and then they will approach the land of israel and jump and swim to shore. 

Six British ships were behind the ship and then they pulled up the flag and changed the name of the ship to “Exodus”. The British surround the ship, there is a fence to prevent the soldiers from coming on board, the British announce that they are in the British territorial water and their intention to arrest them. The British shot a hole in the ship, and water began to enter the ship. 

Witness : there were hundreds of children and the water entered the ship 

Witness :  i was in the bottom of the ship and suddenly the ship is swaying and i did not understand what was happening and there was thrown in gas. 

Witness: my father wrapped my brother and me in towels so we will not inhale the gas and people are screaming and crying and seeing death, the ship is swaying, i wanted to escape inside but i was afraid. it was night. i was afraid i would fall int the ocean and i did not know how to swim. then i went inside. 

Witness: There were people running around, there were injured people. There was one young man from France who had a pistol but the commander told him to throw the pistol in the ocean. 

Witness: there was a commend not to shoot, so the British would not have an excuse to shoot on us. 

Witness : we threw cans and potatoes at them and the British shot . 

A British sailor had shot a 16 year old orphan in the face and killed him. 

Witness: I saw a British sailor trying to jump in the ship , i saw a water hose and i took it and pointed the water at the sailor. When i went to my grandchild’s class i told them the story and my grandson was proud of me. my grandmother fought and won. 

Witness: the captain of the ship commended to give up. There were people who were opposed to this decision but now we know it was a clever decision because we needed to save the people who had already suffered ten years of holocaust. The British were very cruel in their attitude. If we had stopped the ships the way the British did, there would be international outrage. 

The ship had two dead and several injured.  

Witness : In the light of day we saw a green mountain and houses but people were standing and crying. he asked why they were crying and he was told they were not allowed to go there. and suddenly there was singining of the national anthem. 

In Jerusalem there was  a UNSESCO convention and the Arabs refused to cooperate. Three of the committee went to Haifa to see what was happening in the port and they came back shocked from what they had seen. 

When the UN had voted , they were impressed from the scenes. 

The refugees were taken by force from the ship and forced to board the British battle ships. 

witness: They took all the people and placed them in the bottom of the ship and it was hot and the people were naked. crowded. nobody knew we would live for three months like that. It was the worst time of my life, even worse than the holocaust. 

There was a man making a speech to encourage others, we are going towards the end of the chapter of our courage, the miracle had not happened yet. The British can imprison us and keep us away but you can not turn off the sun, that is beyond your control, the destiny in beyond your control , we will reach the goal at the end. 

After 11 days of uncertainty the ship was brought back to France. The French refused to take the refugees by force. The British Foreign minister saw the ship as a test. The British threaten the refugees to return them to the German reich. 

Witness: we had to make a decision, to get off the ship and give up or to continue in our battle to return to the land of israel. They promised French citizenship to the refugees but the same night came people from Haagana from the land of Israel telling them in Hebrew and Yiddish calling them not to get off the ship and it influenced the people to refuse to get off the ship. That was the courage of the ship “Exodus”

Witness: We said not to get off, we had pride , what did we have to fear ? death. 99% of the people  had already been through the war. 

Witness: a few sick people got off, and some pregnant women, and some mentally unbalanced people, we encouraged those to get off. 

After three weeks the British realize the threat and take the people towards Germany and people woke up in horror . 

Witness : we passed the Giblatar passage, there were horrible storms , we almost died there.

Witness : The British invited a Jewish singer to sing, that started a discussion whether she should have come or not.  

After 17 days in water, the ship approached Germany. 

Witness: we were brought to Hamburg. There was a discussion if to get off or to resist because the memories came back from the concentration camps, they were taken back to the camps. The majority said to get off because it is a lost battle and others said, it is better to die than to return to the camps. 

Witness: Every person wanted to be a hero. they will not take me without a struggle. I was small but there were many that British took by hands and feet and we saw a train with barb wires. Everyone who had been in concentration camps began to cry. 

After they were beaten and gassed the refugees were taken back to camps, even Bergen Belsen, where only two years ago Anne Frank had died. 

The world was horrified. 

The decision of the British foreign minister to bring the refugees back to the concentration camps was to serve as a deterrent to stop the refugees from trying to come to the land of Israel .

Witness : ( crying)  this was a little boy who had died from a disease there. he did not get to come to the land even though he was so close. 

Witness : there were people screaming in their sleep. i heard screams from a neighbour , they had recurring nightmares, it was hell. This was the question, how do you live after all that?

Witness: all of the sudden i heard music, it reminded me of the monastery and it seemed it was the eve of the day of the atonement and since that time i did not miss hearing a day of atonement  prayer .

After nine months when the camp was closed, the British took the people to Bergen Belsen, their indifference was without limit. 

For the past few years groups of British people come to atone for the deeds of the British who had tortured the refugees. they bring bibles with them to replace those burned by the British. 

In the spring of 1948 , a year after they began the voyage, most of the refugees arrived in the land of Israel. 

Minister  Yoav Glant ( son of a refugee of exodus): Exodus is a symbol of the life line of the jewish people, of the few against the many, and it is a success story because at the end of the voyage most of the refugees arrived in israel and had built families and had children. 

Witness : My mother who had undergone two world wars and the holocaust , and exodus, looked up at the blue sky and said: My god may our land succeed and do well and not know any more violence and war. 



There are three further documentaries about the ship Exodus in English ; 








About seagullsea

a seagull flying over the great ocean of life observing.
This entry was posted in Israel, jewish survival, middle east muddle, refugees, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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