27 March 2007

Seeking passengers from the Exodus

A Baltimore Sun story discusses that city's role in secretly building a small fleet of ships to transport Holocaust survivors from France to Palestine. The most famous was known as the Exodus.

In July 1947, the ship was boarded by the British and its 4,500 passengers were turned away only a few miles from its destination. The passengers returned to German detention camps.

The situation made headlines around the world and helped develop support for Israel's creation.

And, although the Exodus has been featured in movies and books, many details are still unknown. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is embarking on a campaign to gather all the information.

For the voyage's 60th anniversary, the museum is attempting to compile a complete passenger manifest for the first time.

In Israel, the Exodus Survivors Convention Committee has a list of some 1,800 refugees who settled there, but the committee and the museum want to find the names of the other 2,700 who eventually settled in Europe, South America, Canada and the United States.

The new names will be added to the USHMM registry, a database with more than 195,000 records of Holocaust survivors and their families - "Only five people in the registry have identified themselves as Exodus passengers." The museum also hopes to collect photographs, film, testimony and artifacts from the voyage.

The story provides the historical details of the aging steamboat, named the President Warfield, which became the Exodus. It sold for $40,000 in October 1946 to a company fronting for the Haganah.

Baltimore native Leon Uris authored Exodus, the basis for the Paul Newman film.

Do you have information about the passengers? If so, contact U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum curator Genya Markon; call 202-488-6108, e-mail gmarkon@ushmm.org or visit the museum.

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