The Schuberts were among approximately 4,550 Jewish refugees from
World War II aboard the ship Exodus 1947, which sailed for British-controlled
Palestine from France on July 10, 1947. Britain had tightened the Jewish
immigration quota for Palestine and was sending Jews who ran the blockade
to internment camps in Cyprus. The camps were overflowing, and the Exodus,
the largest refugee ship to date, was treated differently.
The British attacked the Exodus in the Mediterranean and sent the refugees back to France on prison ships. The refugees refused to disembark in Europe -- it was Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel) or nothing. After three weeks, the British sailed the prison ships to Hamburg, Germany, and said they would force the refugees off the boats with tear gas and bring in troops if they had to. The refugees went ashore peacefully on Sept. 8.
Around the world, public sympathy was with the Jewish refugees, and the British endured a storm of disapproval. Worldwide reaction to the plight of the Exodus refugees was instrumental in persuading the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine to recommend partitioning Palestine and establishing a Jewish state.
In Germany, the Exodus refugees were held in Displaced Persons camps in a British-occupied zone. A few at a time over the course of a year, the Exodus refugees left the camps and reached Palestine, some with legal immigration permits and some illicitly. Many of them were already in Israel on May 15, 1948, when the nation declared its independence.
Destination Palestine, the story of the Haganah ship,
by Ruth Gruber (New York: Current Books, 1948)
by David C. Holly (Boston: Little, Brown, 1969)