The ship sailed from the port of Site, near Marseilles,
on July 11, 1947, with 4,515 immigrants, including 655 children, on
board. As soon as it left the territorial waters of France,
British destroyers accompanied it. On July 18, near the coast of Palestine but outside territorial waters, the British rammed the ship and boarded
it, while the immigrants put up a desperate defense. Two immigrants
and a crewman were killed in the battle, and 30 were wounded. The ship
was towed to Haifa, where the immigrants were forced onto deportation
ships bound for France. At Port-de-Bouc, in southern France, the would-be
immigrants remained in the ships’ holds for 24 days during a heat wave,
refusing to disembark despite the shortage of food, the crowding and
the abominable sanitary conditions. The French government refused to
force them off the boat. Eventually, the British decided to return the
would-be immigrants to Germany,
and on August 22 the ship left for the port of Hamburg, then in the
British occupation zone. The immigrants were forcibly taken off and
transported to two camps near Lubeck.
Journalists who covered the dramatic struggle described to the entire world the heartlessness and cruelty of the British. World public opinion was outraged and the British changed their policy. Illegal immigrants were not sent back to Europe; they were instead transported to detention camps in Cyprus.
The majority of the passengers on the Exodus 1947 settled in Israel, though some had
to wait until after the establishment
of the State of Israel.
To view pictures of the Exodus 1947, Click Here