The S.S. Exodus was an American Holocaust Refugee Ship, purchased by Americans and crewed by American volunteers with Jewish Palestinian leadership. The American mission was to rescue desperate Jewish Holocaust survivors, unwanted human remnants trapped in Europe, after the murder of 6 million Jews. Despite the Balfour Declaration of 1917, British Mandate policy, as it had before World War II, closed Palestine as the haven of refuge for Jews.
July 18, 1947, the unarmed ship carrying 4,515 Holocaust Survivors tried to breech the British Palestine blockade. In international waters, two British destroyers crashed into the sides of the Exodus, threatening to sink the ship with all its human cargo. British Marines boarded, killed three, including an American Mahal crew member - Bill Bernstein. 147 refugees were injured. The Jews resisted bravely.
The captured ship was taken to Haifa port where the brutalized refugees were transferred to awaiting British prison ships and forcibly returned to "Displaced Persons Camps" in Germany. World news captured the pathos in Haifa, turning world opinion and sympathy to the Jewish plight.
In Jerusalem, the United Nations special Committee on Palestine was deliberating the Palestine question. They had refused to hear Jewish refugee testimony. Aboard the Exodus was American Methodist Minister Reverend John Stanley Grauel. The Haganah smuggled Grauel to Jerusalem where he testified before the Committee. Because of Reverend Grauel's eye witness account, the Committee agreed to hear Holocaust Survivor testimonies. The Committee's anti-Partition recommendation changed in favor of Partition.
Saturday, November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to end British control of Palestine setting the stage for the re-birth of a Jewish State. Journalist Ruth Gruber named the Exodus, "The Ship that Launched a Nation."
Buchenwald Concentration Camp Survivors
American and Israel
"Hatikva" - the Hope
The Exodus Memorial Dedication
Haifa - July 18, 2017
Of the dozens of Aliyah Bet ships attempting to bring Jewish Holocaust Survivors to British Mandatory Palestine, the Exodus was the most famous and significant. Memorials to "The Ship that Launched a Nation" were created in Germany, France, Italy and the United States. Ironically, nothing specific to the Exodus was ever created in Israel - until now.
July 18, 2017, the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation organized, funded and dedicated the first ever memorial to the Exodus in Israel. The memorial is located outside of the International Cruise Ship Terminal in the port of Haifa, approxiametly 300 meters from where the Exodus was tied up in 1947. The dedication ceremony was attended by over 700 guests, including Cabinet Ministers, Ambassadors, Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Mayors, MKs, Exodus and Holocaust survivors, soldiers and sailors of the IDF, Christians, Jews and international representatives. Annually, an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 visitors to the port will see, read and learn about the Exodus. Historic interpretive signage has been included in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
A tragic fire, of controversial origin, destroyed the Exodus in 1952 while tied up in Haifa. The wreck was towed out past the ship lanes to the port and scuttled. Two attempts were made to raise for salvage the Exodus' hull but each attempt failed. The Exodus refused to leave Israel and remains just north of the port in forty feet of water to this day.
Exodus Memorial - unveiling
Exodus Memorial - International Cruise Ship Terminal - Haifa, Israel
Exodus Memorial Ceremony
Haganah - Israel Defense Forces
American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corporation
Supporting Organizations, Exodus Memorial:
Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation
American Zionist Movement
American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corp
U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad
Daddy, I was once told that the only things in life we could be sure of were “death and taxes”. After reading this book I am convinced that there is another certainty we can add to the above two- and that is “there will always be an Israel.” Dorothy, May 20, 1959
"Pat Boone, world famous singer, movie actor and writer has been a lifelong friend of Israel. His active continuing career has spanned over 62 years, selling more than 46 million albums, 38 Platinum top forty singles, starring in 12 movies and a hit T.V. show. Yet, he will modestly tell you, he thinks “his song” Exodus was the high point of his career.... The Exodus was an American Holocaust rescue ship. She was American funded. She was crewed by American World War II veterans with Haganah leadership. Her mission was to rescue 4,515 desperate survivors of the Holocaust, unwanted by the world for surviving, trapped in European Displaced Persons Camps. In some cases, the DP camps were adjacent to the Concentration Camps where the Nazis had tried to murder the survivors just two years before."