Exodus 1947

Stand for Israel  |  July 11, 2022

Exodus 1947
(Photo: Frank Scherschel/GPO)

Recently, Stand for Israel shared a photo from pre-state Israel, of the infant child of Holocaust survivors preparing to make aliyah. And today, The Jerusalem Post’s Aaron Reich shares the story of one such ship of survivors coming home to the Holy Land – the Exodus 1947, which set sail 75 years ago:

July 11, 2022 marks 75 years since the ship SS Exodus 1947 set sail from the French port of Sète, carrying 4,515 Jews, most of whom were Holocaust survivors, to bring them to Mandatory Palestine, the future State of Israel as part of Aliyah Bet.

The ship itself, formerly known as President Warfield, was an inland steam packet ship built as a freighter and passenger carrier in 1928 for use in Chesapeake Bay before being used as a training ship for the British army during World War II. Here, the ship saw two trips across the Atlantic and even saw clashes with the Nazis.

But its journey from France to the Holy Land, during which it was renamed to Exodus 1947, has become an arguably its most enduring legacy and cemented its place in Jewish history.

The period between 1920 and 1948 saw a wave of Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine. However, it was divided into two distinct names, Aliyah Aleph and Aliyah Bet. The former refers to the limited, legal Jewish immigration into the mandate that was approved by the British.

Aliyah Bet (also known in Israel as Ha’apala, meaning ascension), however, was entirely illegal, trying to get around the restrictions the British implemented.

These restrictions got worse in 1939, after the British implemented the White Paper that limited immigration, and subsequently saw more prospective Jewish immigrants to try and enter Mandatory Palestine illegally. 

And after 1939, this only became a more pressing issue.

The rise of Nazi Germany and the start of World War II saw antisemitism and imminent danger for European Jewry skyrocket, prompting many refugees to attempt to flee…