Refugees tell reporter they won't land
Stars and Stripes September 8, 1947
HAMBURG, Sept. 7 — The first vessel returning the Exodus 1947 refugees to Germany docked here amid wartime secrecy this afternoon with speculation rife as to whether they would land voluntarily or be disembarked by specially-trained British troops who stood alerted.
However, refugees on the deck of the ship, the Ocean Vigour, said they would not land tomorrow morning when they are to be presented with a British ultimatum.
They told this to this reporter who evaded a British cordon thrown around the dock to shout the question:
"Treten Sie morgen ab?" — Will you land tomorrow?
"Nein" — "No" — answered a chorus of about 10 voices. There were about 50 refugees on the barbed-wire lined decks of the ship at the time.
No one said "yes."
The ship slipped into port at 3.30 p.m. after the British announced it would not dock until tomorrow because of heavy fog blanketing the city. The British did not confirm its arrival until one hour later.
Dock workers said only a few troops were on hand at the time. This was in contrast to the scene at 5 a. m. when the ship was scheduled to arrive. At that time several hundred troops were secreted at the docks so as not to excite the refugees.
The British said the refugees would not be disembarked until tomorrow morning.
The reason for the delay presumably is that the British want as many hours of daylight as possible to funnel the Jews through the guarded dock entrances to special trains and then on to the Poppendorf camp near Lubeck.
The British barred photographers and newsmen from the dock area. Armed soldiers patrolled the area and military police jeeps sped along surrounding roads. Many correspondents attempting to contact the refugees were turned back.
However, this reporter made his way to the shore some 25 yards from the vessel. From that distance the ship's occupants showed no signs of their long voyage to Palestine and back. They "hallooed" back when I hailed them, and waved back when I waved my handkerchief. Behind the barbed wire a man was playing ring-around-Rosie with three children.
Twice I asked them if they intended to disembark tomorrow and both times several persons shouted "nein" in response.
To get to the dock I climbed a 12-foot wire fence topped by pickets and evaded patrols of British soldiers by crawling under three railroad trains. One was a hospital train with its seats removed and windows barred, which presumably will be used to transport resisting Jews.
Three automobiles carrying nurses arrived at the dock while I was there.
The tone of defiance this reporter found among the Exodus Jews was reflected further in the British Zone's Jewish community.
And D. Karl Marx, editor of a newspaper published by Jewish displaced persons in the zone, said "the British will have to take care of any Jews they wound in unloading the Exodus refugees because the Jewish agencies will not help them."