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EPILOGUE: The Aftermath
 pg. 657 
With grenade at the ready, a young woman in the Hagana, the Jewish underground, trains for battle on Mt. Scopus, near Jerusalem, in 1948.
Photo: Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz
Jewish Immigration to Palestine

Of the 250,000 Jews who became displaced persons at the end of the war, few wished to make Europe their home. Confined to DP camps, they desired to begin their new lives elsewhere.

Most Jews hoped to immigrate to Palestine. Yet, as was the case during the war, their escape was impeded by the immigration quotas set by the British, who held the mandate on Palestine. Through the illegal activities of the Mossad, the Jewish underground organization, the Jews were able to undertake clandestine voyages to Palestine from 1945 to 1948.

Making their way over mountains and under cover of night to Europe's coasts, Jewish families then crowded onto rickety ships that attempted to dodge the British blockade. Discovery meant arrest. Despite the risks, 64 ships delivered over 70,000 people to Palestine beaches. Another 50,000 were stopped and taken to British detention camps on the island of Cyprus.

Unable to halt the exodus of Europe's Jews, the British finally gave in. The 1948 establishment of Israel allowed the mass immigration of about two-thirds of the displaced persons. The remaining refugees chose to make their homes elsewhere, with about 70,000 going to the United States once quota limitations were eased in 1948 and 1950.

Britain welcomed Jewish immigration to Palestine until Arab-Jewish riots in May 1921. Immigration then was temporarily suspended, but the British colonial secretary, Winston Churchill, issued a government White Paper that reaffirmed the Balfour Declaration. The White Paper stated that Palestine would not become completely Jewish territory, and linked Jewish immigration to the land's capacity to support it economically.

Although the British made no rush to encourage Israeli statehood, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased steadily. By the late 1930s, the Jewish presence was strong, and the Arab population had grown as well. Agitation for an Arab Palestinian state echoed the calls for a Jewish state. Britain's attempt to quell unrest was the White Paper of 1939, issued in May. The White Paper's controversial provisions included the following: (1) After ten years, the British would set up an independent, binational Palestinian state in which Jews and Arabs would share governmental power proportionately to their population. (2) Over the next five years, 75,000 Jews would be permitted to enter Palestine; after that time, immigration would depend on Arab agreement. (3) Land purchases by Jews would be sharply curtailed.

When World War II began less than four months later, not only had Theodor Herzl's dream of a Jewish state been put in suspended animation, but the doors to a haven from the antisemitism he feared were being slammed shut. From 1939 to 1945, only about 50,000 Jews were able to enter Palestine. Approximately 16,000 of them were smuggled in by sea, thanks to militant Jewish groups who defied British attempts to keep the refugees out.

Later, postwar passion for a Jewish homeland in Palestine incited Jewish underground groups to attempt to expel the British by violence. Groups included the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin, and Lehi, led by Yitzhak Shamir (both eventually Israeli prime ministers). British crackdowns kept these minority movements more or less in check, but the insurrection intensified the struggle for Israeli statehood.

 March 29, 1947: Former Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss is sentenced to death following his trial at Warsaw, Poland; See April 16, 1947.
 March 29, 1947: Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal founds a Documentation Center of Nazi war criminals in Linz, Austria.
 April 16, 1947: Former Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss is hanged at Auschwitz.
 May 8, 1947-July 30, 1948: Twenty-four members of I.G. Farben's board of directors are tried at Nuremberg. Thirteen are sentenced to imprisonment; ten are acquitted and one is not tried due to poor health.
 May 10, 1947-February 19, 1948: Twelve former senior Wehrmacht officers are tried at Nuremberg in the so-called "hostage trial." Of these, eight are sentenced to prison, two are acquitted, one commits suicide, and one is released because of ill health.
 July 1, 1947-March 10, 1948: The trial of 14 former SS leaders takes place in Nuremberg. Thirteen are sentenced to prison; one is acquitted.
EPILOGUE: The Aftermath
 pg. 657 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.