For the survivors, returning to life as it had been
before the Holocaust was impossible.
Jewish communities no longer existed in much of Europe.
When people tried to return to their homes from camps or hiding places,
they found that, in many cases, their homes had been looted or taken
over by others.
Returning home was also dangerous. After the war, anti-Jewish
riots broke out in several Polish cities. The largest anti-Jewish pogrom took place in July 1946 in Kielce,
a city in southeastern Poland. When 150 Jews returned to the city, people
living there feared that hundreds more would come back to reclaim their
houses and belongings. Age-old antisemitic myths, such as Jews' ritual murders of Christians, arose once again.
After a rumor spread that Jews had killed a Polish boy to use his blood
in religious rituals, a mob attacked the group of survivors. The rioters
killed 41 people and wounded 50 more. News of the Kielce pogrom spread
rapidly, and Jews realized that there was no future for them in Poland.
Many survivors ended up in displaced
persons' (DP) camps set up in western Europe under Allied military
occupation at the sites of former concentration
camps. There they waited to be admitted to places like the United
States, South Africa, or Palestine.
At first, many countries continued their old immigration policies, which
greatly limited the number of refugees they would accept. The British
government, which controlled Palestine,
refused to let large numbers of Jews in. Many Jews tried to enter Palestine without legal papers, and when caught some
were held in camps on the island of Cyprus, while others were deported
back to Germany. Great Britain's
scandalous treatment of Jewish refugees added to international pressures
for a homeland for the Jewish people. Finally, the United
Nations voted to divide
Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Early in 1948, the British
began withdrawing from Palestine. On May 14, 1948, one of the leading
voices for a Jewish homeland, David
Ben-Gurion, announced the formation
of the State of Israel. After this, Jewish refugee ships freely
landed in the seaports of the new nation. The United States also changed
its immigration policy to allow more Jewish refugees to enter.
Although many Jewish survivors were able to build new
lives in their adopted countries, many non-Jewish victims of Nazi policies
continued to be persecuted in Germany. Laws which discriminated against Roma (Gypsies) continued
to be in effect until 1970 in some parts of the country. The law used
in Nazi Germany to imprison homosexuals remained in effect until 1969.