Refugees moved off ship; force used on resisters
Stars and Stripes September 9, 1947
HAMBURG, Sept. 8 — The first contingent of Exodus 1947 Jewish refugees returned to German soil today, many of them propelled violently by club-wielding British soldiers — and were lodged in a guarded displaced persons camp near here.
Resisting Jews aboard the vessel which docked today, the Ocean Vigour, were carried, dragged and half-thrown down the ship's gang way, Similar brawls took place in in the holds, witnesses reported.
Still more violence is expected tomorrow, when the Empire Rival is scheduled to unload its illegal Palestine immigrants, if the Jews do not accept the standing British invitation to disembark voluntarily.
The third vessel, the Runnymede Park, is scheduled to dock Wednesday.
More than 1,200 of the 4,300 Exodus Jews landed today. Correspondents who witnessed all but the early stages of the disembarkation agreed that some 30 of the Jews were carried off bodily. These were pushed, shoved and carried to the docks as they shouted defiance. Some of those carried were weeping boys and girls. Men who offered the stiffest resistance were carried ashore by as many as four soldiers.
In the holds of the ship soldiers herded the Jews together to funnel them through files of troops lined up to hand them up the stairway to the deck. This eyewitness report was given by Dennis Martin of the London Daily Herald and Ed Morrow of the New York Times who were allowed to enter the holds as representatives of the world press.
They reported that in the second hold the refugees, when the operation began, started demonstrating and the ringleaders put up strong resistance. Some refused to let troops take their baggage and some girls spat at the soldiers.
Martin said troops attempted to push the leaders up to the deck, but later resorted to use of their rubber truncheons.
The violence appeared on deck in the view of newsmen at about 9:30 a. m., three hours after the disembarkation began and one hour before the ship was vacated.
it followed the appearance of British soldiers who surged up the gangway to join soldiers of the escort. These shore soldiers went aboard after the flow of refugees to the shore had slowed down to a trickle and at one point had halted for 25 minutes.
Apparently the Jews remaining on board had refused to leave and the British decided to spur them by carrying off their leaders. A British announcement said this point in the operation came when it was half-way completed.
"A certain amount of manhandling took place to get some of the struggling and kicking Jews on to the quay," the announcement said. Four Jews were injured, one of whom was taken to the hospital with a head injury.
From the docks the Jews were loaded into two trains stripped of seats and with window panes over which steel netting and iron bars had been fixed.
Preceded by a British pilot locomotive searching for works of sabotage, the guarded trains went to the Poppendorf DP camp around which three rows of barbed wire had been strung.
British officials said the first train was forced to halt to repair damages inflicted by the Jews. At the barricaded station they detrained without serious incident and mounted trucks to take them to camp. The first train arrived at 1:00 p.m. and the second at 4:45 p.m.
Reporters and photographers were barred from the camp despite passes they had been issued to admit them. Photographers were not allowed at the dock area at all. Newsmen were admitted one hour after the disembarkation operation began.