Atlit detainee camp

Atlit detainee camp

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The Atlit detainee camp was a detention camp established by the British at the end of the 1930s on what is now Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's northern coast 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) south of Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

. The camp was established to prevent Jewish refugees, mainly Holocaust survivors, from entering then-Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. Today the camp is a museum.

History


The Atlit camp, established by the British Mandatory government in the 1930s, was surrounded by barbed wire and watchtowers. Many of the detainees during the 1930s and 1940s were Jewish refugees from Nazi-controlled Europe. In the late 1940s, most were Holocaust survivors. The British authorities, acceding to Arab demands to limit Jewish immigration, refused to allow them to enter the country.

At Atlit camp, the men were sent to one side, women to the other. They were sprayed with DDT, then told to undress and enter the showers. In 1939-1948, tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants were interned here, men and women separated by barbed wire. Some interns stayed as long as 23 months.

In November 1940, the British authorities decided to send 5000 illegals to detention camps on Mauritius
Mauritius
Mauritius , officially the Republic of Mauritius is an island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent in the southwest Indian Ocean, about east of Madagascar...

. One of these deporting ships was the Patria
Patria disaster
The Patria disaster on 25 November 1940 was the sinking by the Haganah of a French-built ocean liner in the port of Haifa, in which 260 people were killed and 172 injured....

. To stop the deportation, the Haganah
Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

, the Jewish underground militia in Palestine, exploded a bomb in the ship's hold on November 25. The size of the explosive charge had been seriously miscalculated, and the ship sank quickly. On board were 1800 refugees; 216 drowned in the disaster. The survivors from the Patria were detained in Atlit and not deported to Mauritius. They were released after a few months.

The Darien II
Darien II
Darien II was the last ship to bring Aliya Bet refugees to Haifa , on March 19, 1941, during World War II.Originally named the Pole Star, it was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1892 for the Northern Lighthouse Board. After changing names and ownership several times it became the Sophia S in 1939...

arrived with 800 refugees in March 1941. They were detained at the Atlit camp until September 1942, when the camp was shut down.

The Atlit camp was reopened in 1945 following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, as more and more illegals arrived in Palestine. Most of them were Holocaust survivors from DP camps
Displaced persons camp
A displaced persons camp or DP camp is a temporary facility for displaced persons coerced into forced migration. The term is mainly used for camps established after World War II in West Germany and in Austria, as well as in the United Kingdom, primarily for refugees from Eastern Europe and for the...

 in Europe who made the journey through the Berihah
Berihah
Bricha was the underground organized effort that helped Jewish Holocaust survivors escape post-World War II Europe to the British Mandate for Palestine in violation of the White Paper of 1939...

 and Ha'apala ("Aliya Beth")
Ha'apala
Aliyah Bet |bet]] being the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet) was the code name given to illegal immigration by Jews to the British Mandate for Palestine in violation of British White Paper of 1939 restrictions, in the years 1934-1948. In modern day Israel it has also been called by the Hebrew...

 clandestine immigration network.

Some of the German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 Templers
Templers (religious believers)
Templers are members of the Temple Society , a German Protestant sect with roots in the Pietist movement of the Lutheran Church. The Templers were expelled from the church in 1858 because of their millennial beliefs. Their aim was to realize the apocalyptic visions of the prophets of Israel in the...

 living in the six Templer colonies in Palestine, who openly supported the Nazis, were declared enemy nationals by the British authorities and were detained at Atlit prior to deportation.

On October 10, 1945, the Palmach
Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

 (special forces unit of the Haganah) broke into the camp and released 200 detainees, who escaped. Yitzhak Rabin
Yitzhak Rabin
' was an Israeli politician, statesman and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–77 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995....

, then a young officer, planned the raid and Nachum Sarig commanded it. Following this event, the British deported illegals to Cyprus internment camps
Cyprus internment camps
Cyprus internment camps were camps run by the British government for internment of Jews who had immigrated or attempted to immigrate to Mandatory Palestine in violation of British policy...

. These camps operated from 1946 through the establishment of the State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, Atlit detainee camp served as a POW camp and civil internment camp for local Arabs. Egyptian POWs from the 1967 war, and Lebanese
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 citizens were also held there.

Today


The Atlit camp is now a museum of the history of Ha'apala
Ha'apala
Aliyah Bet |bet]] being the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet) was the code name given to illegal immigration by Jews to the British Mandate for Palestine in violation of British White Paper of 1939 restrictions, in the years 1934-1948. In modern day Israel it has also been called by the Hebrew...

. Atlit was declared a National Heritage Site in 1987.