Learn about emigration of displaced persons in the JDC Archives exhibit “Everything Possible: JDC and the Children of the DP Camps.”
The Underground Network
The “Bricha” (Flight) organization smuggled thousands of Jews from one occupied zone to another, country to country, and finally, to Palestine. JDC provided funding and supplies and used its diplomatic contacts to open borders for Jewish refugees escaping from Eastern Europe and the DP camps to Mediterranean seaports and ships to Palestine.
President Truman’s Directive
President Truman’s Directive of 1946 enabled 17,000 Jewish displaced persons to enter the U.S. at that time.
Impasse: Exodus 1947 Passengers
In the summer of 1947, world attention focused on the Exodus, which set sail clandestinely for Palestine with over 4,500 refugees, among them 950 children. After a brutal attack by British warships, the ship was redirected. Unlike the fictional account, the passengers were sent to detention camps in Germany, not to Cyprus.
A Home in Israel
JDC financed transport via France and Italy for refugees heading to Israel before and after statehood. Once Israel was established, the camps started to empty out. The immigration rate from the Italian camps ranged from 1,800 to 2,000 a month. Eventually, at least 136,000 displaced persons had settled in the new Jewish State.
Changes in U.S. immigration laws, first in 1948, and then in 1952, made it possible for some 80,000 Jewish refugees to settle in America.
A Welcoming Hand
Other countries welcomed Jewish displaced persons: primarily South Africa, Australia, South American countries, and Norway.
Only four displaced persons camps were operating in 1951. By that time, over 250,000 Jewish survivors of the Holocaust had lived in camps, some stranded for months, others for years.