• Kobi Tour Guide of Israel

The UK Imprisoned Holocaust Refugees... in the Indian Ocean

Just months prior to WWII breaking out in Europe, the British White Paper of 1939 limited immigration to 15,000 a year [in contradiction of the terms of their mandate], right at the time that the Jewish people's most dire hour. Jews who had been coming before the war were placed in a detention camp called Atlit near Haifa (as a tour guide of Israel, I can attest that it is quite an interesting place to visit). After the Holocaust, when the numbers of Jewish refugees swelled, they were instead placed in camps on Cyprus. One boat was even sent back to Germany - post Holocaust - the famous Exodus.


Yet there is a story mixed in here which I had never heard of. During the Holocaust, a small number of Jews managed to escape Europe and make it to the British Mandate of Palestine. In order to deter what the British called "illegal immigration" - Jews fleeing for their lives trying to reach their homeland - the British deported 1580 of them to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. There they were imprisoned in what was effectively a concentration camp - though it cannot be compared with the Nazi ones - for 5 years. 128 of them died there. 75 years ago last week, the survivors were finally freed.


For the full, incredible story which includes a bombing, naked protests, Winston Churchill, Adolf Eichmann and the Jewish underground organization Haganah, click here: https://www.timesofisrael.com/from-palestine-to-jail-in-mauritius-when-britain-deported-1580-shoah-refugees/

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