Bricha (Hebrew: בריחה, translit. Briẖa, "escape" or "flight"), also called the Bericha Movement,[1] 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. It ended when Israel declared independence and annulled the White Paper.

19450715 Buchenwald survivors arrive in Haifa
July 15, 1945. Buchenwald survivors arrive in Haifa to be arrested by the British.

After American, British and Soviet armed forces liberated the camps, survivors suffered from disease, severe malnutrition and depression. Many were displaced persons who were unable to return to their homes from before the war. In some areas the survivors continued to face antisemitic violence; during the 1946 Kielce pogrom in Poland 42 survivors were killed when their communal home was attacked by a mob. For many of the survivors, Europe had become "a vast cemetery of the Jewish people" and "they wanted to start life over and build a new national Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael."[1][2]

The movement of Jewish refugees from the Displaced Persons camp in which they were held (one million persons classified as "not repatriable" remained in Germany and Austria) to Palestine was illegal on both sides, as Jews were not officially allowed to leave the countries of Central and Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union and its allies, nor were they permitted to settle in Palestine by the British.

In late 1944 and early 1945, Jewish members of the Polish resistance met up with Warsaw ghetto fighters in Lubin to form Bricha as a way of escaping the antisemitism of Europe, where they were convinced that another Holocaust would occur. After the liberation of Rivne, Eliezer and Abraham Lidovsky, and Pasha (Isaac) Rajchmann, concluded that there was no future for Jews in Poland. They formed an artisan guild to cover their covert activities, and they sent a group to Cernăuţi, Romania to seek out escape routes. It was only after Abba Kovner, and his group from Vilna joined, along with Icchak Cukierman, who had headed the Jewish Combat Organization of the Polish uprising of August 1944, in January 1945, that the organization took shape. They soon joined up with a similar effort led by the Jewish Brigade and eventually the Haganah (the Jewish clandestine army in Palestine).

Officers of the Jewish Brigade of the British army assumed control of the operation, along with operatives from the Haganah who hoped to smuggle as many displaced persons as possible into Palestine through Italy. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee funded the operation.

Almost immediately, the explicitly Zionist Berihah became the main conduit for Jews coming to Palestine, especially from the displaced person camps, and it initially had to turn people away due to too much demand.

After the Kielce pogrom of 1946, the flight of Jews accelerated, with 100,000 Jews leaving Eastern Europe in three months. Operating in Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia through 1948, Berihah transferred approximately 250,000 survivors into Austria, Germany, and Italy through elaborate smuggling networks. Using ships supplied at great cost by the Mossad Le'aliyah Bet, then the immigration arm of the Yishuv, these refugees were then smuggled through the British cordon around Palestine. Bricha was part of the larger operation known as Aliyah Bet, and ended with the establishment of Israel, after which immigration to the Jewish state was legal, although emigration was still sometimes prohibited, as happened in both the Eastern Bloc and Arab countries, see, for example refusenik.

See also


  1. ^ a b "The Bericha - Education & E-Learning - Yad Vashem". Retrieved 2018-04-17.
  2. ^ Steinlauf, Michael C. (1997). Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 978-0-8156-2729-6.
  • Bauer, Yehuda (1970). Flight and Rescue: Brichah. New York: Random House. OCLC 80809. Snippet view only.
  • Mankowitz, Zeev W. (2002). Life between Memory and Hope: The Survivors of the Holocaust in Occupied Germany. Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare no. 12. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521037565. OCLC 124025531.

External links

Budapest Ghetto

The Budapest Ghetto was a Nazi ghetto set up in Budapest, Hungary, where Jews were forced to relocate by a decree of the Hungarian Government during the final stages of World War II. The ghetto existed only from November 29, 1944 - January

17, 1945.

Central Committee of the Liberated Jews

The Central Committee of the Liberated Jews (ZK) was an organization which represented Jewish displaced persons in the American Zone of the post-World War II Germany, during 1945-1950.Originated on July 1, 1945 through the efforts of Dr. Zalman Grinberg, former director of the Kovno ghetto hospital, rabbi Abraham Klausner, a chaplain of the US Army, and others, on September 7, 1946 the Committee was recognized as "the legal and democratic representation of the liberated Jews in the American zone" by the American military government in Germany.The first Chairman was Zalman Gringberg, succeeded by David Treger (in 1946) after Grinberg's emigration to Palestine and then by Abraham Treger. Abraham Treger served as the Committee's chairman between 1946 to 1948 and then emigrated with his wife Ida to Haifa, Israel.

Fourth Aliyah

The Fourth Aliyah (Hebrew: העלייה הרביעית, HaAliyah HaRevi'it) refers to the fourth wave of the Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe and Asia who came based on Zionist motives between the years 1924 and 1928.

History of the Jews during World War II

The history of the Jews during World War II is almost synonymous with the Jewish persecution and murder of unprecedented scale in modern times in political Europe inclusive of European North Africa (pro-Nazi Vichy-North Africa and Italian Libya). The massive scale of the Holocaust which happened during World War II heavily affected the Jewish nation and world public opinion, which only understood the dimensions of the Final Solution after the war. The genocide, known as HaShoah in Hebrew, aimed at the elimination of the Jewish people on the European continent. It was a broadly organized operation led by Nazi Germany, in which approximately six million Jews were murdered methodically and with horrifying cruelty. During the Holocaust in occupied Poland, more than one million Jews were murdered in gas chambers of the Auschwitz concentration camp alone. The murder of the Jews of Europe affected Jewish communities in Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Channel Islands, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.Leading to World War II, nearly all Jewish firms in Nazi Germany had either collapsed under financial pressure and declining profits, or had been forced to sell out to the Nazi German government as part of the "Aryanization" policy inaugurated in 1937. As the war started, massacres of Jews took place originally as part of Operation Tannenberg against the Polish nation. The much larger and methodical mass killings of Jews began with the onset of Operation Barbarossa. Led by Einsatzkommandos and the Orpo battalions, the destruction of European Jews took place with the active participation of local Auxiliary Police including Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, and Ukrainian Schutzmannschaften.

Jewish Brigade

The Jewish Infantry Brigade Group, more commonly known as the Jewish Brigade Group or Jewish Brigade, was a military formation of the British Army in World War II. It was formed in late 1944 and was recruited among Yishuv Jews from Mandatory Palestine and commanded by Anglo-Jewish officers. It served in the latter stages of the Italian Campaign, and was disbanded in 1946.

After the war, some members of the Brigade assisted Holocaust survivors to emigrate illegally to Mandatory Palestine as part of Aliyah Bet.

Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations

The Joint Declaration by Members of the United Nations was a statement issued on December 17, 1942, by the American and British governments on behalf of the Allied Powers. In it, they describe the ongoing events of the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The statement was read to British House of Commons in a floor speech by Foreign secretary Anthony Eden, and published on the front page of the New York Times and many other newspapers. It was made in response to a 16-page note addressed to the Allied governments on December 10 by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Polish government-in-exile, Count Edward Raczynski, titled The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland and his official Raczyński's Note addressed to western governments.

Jon Kimche

Jon Kimche (17 June 1909 – 9 March 1994) was a journalist and historian. A Swiss Jew, he arrived in England at the age of 12, becoming involved in the Independent Labour Party as a young man. In 1934–35, he worked with George Orwell in a Hampstead bookshop, Booklover’s Corner, and he later managed the ILP's bookshop at 35 Bride Street, near Ludgate Circus. As chair of the ILP Guild of Youth, he visited Barcelona in 1937, where he again met Orwell.

In the early war years he contributed articles on military strategy to the Evening Standard, and in 1942, on the recommendation of Michael Foot, was hired by Aneurin Bevan as de facto editor of the left-wing weekly Tribune. (Bevan was nominally the editor but had neither the time nor the technical expertise to do the job, and Kimche was both an alien and a member of the ILP rather than the Labour Party, which Tribune supported.) He left Tribune to join Reuters in 1945 but returned in 1946, though by now his primary interest was in the Middle East—specifically, in the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine. He was fired from his Tribune job after disappearing from the office in December 1947 to Istanbul to negotiate safe passage with the Turkish authorities for two ships sailing from Bulgaria with thousands of Jews aboard bound for Palestine.

From this point on, Kimche made a name for himself as a leftist, and as an analyst of Middle Eastern politics, writing several books and innumerable articles. He was for 15 years editor of the Jewish Observer and Middle East Review and was Middle East correspondent of the Evening Standard until 1973. He was one of the original senior members of the Next Century Foundation.

Kimche is the author of The Secret Roads: The "Illegal" Migration of People, 1938-1948, Secker and Warburg, 1954. The book details the passages of Jewish refugees throughout Europe en route to Palestine. The Haganah, and in some cases Jewish youth groups, such as the Bricha, accomplished this. Kimche documents this group's activities in arranging for Jewish orphans to arrive from all over Europe to Marseilles in 1947 and board the Exodus, which was bound for Palestine. He also wrote several books with his brother David Kimche.

List of Nazi ghettos

This article is a partial list of selected Jewish ghettos created by the Nazis for the purpose of isolating, exploiting and finally, eradicating Jewish population (and sometimes Gypsies) on territories they controlled. Most of the prominent ghettos listed here were set up by the Third Reich and its allies in the course of World War II. In total, according to USHMM archives, "The Germans established at least 1,000 ghettos in German-occupied and annexed Poland and the Soviet Union alone." Therefore, the examples are intended only to illustrate their scope across Eastern and Western Europe.

Mass murders in Tykocin

The Mass murders in Tykocin occurred in August 25, 1941, during World War II, where the local Jewish population of Tykocin (Poland) was killed by German Einsatzkommando.

Milan (camp)

Milan was a post World War II displaced person camp in the city of Milan, one of the few such camps in a major Italian city. The city also served as the administrative centre for refugees in northern Italy.

The camp housed 1,100 Jewish refugees, many of whom came from Austria along the illegal emigration routes organised by the Bricha. Milan placed more emphasis on education than the nearby Adriatica camp, setting up a secular school and a yeshiva religious school, and sharing kosher beef with the camp at Cremona.

Selvino children

The Selvino children were a group of approximately 810 Jewish children orphaned by the Holocaust, rescued after World War II from ghettos and concentration camps and housed in a former Fascist children's home called Sciesopoli in the Alpine town of Selvino, Italy. The facility had been constructed in the 1930s (the colony was inaugurated on June 11, 1933, built by the architect of sports facilities Paolo Vietti Violi) as a "sports palace" or gymnasium and training centre for athletes). There, the children were allowed to recover physically, mentally, and spiritually from their ordeal, while being instructed both in the general education they had missed during their imprisonment, as well as in their heritage of Judaism and Judaic culture, in preparation for their later relocation to the still British-ruled Mandatory Palestine as part of the Bricha illegal immigration programme. The house was run by members of a Palestinian Jewish unit of the British Army stationed in Northern Italy under Moshe Zeiri, along with the generous help of many Italian citizens. From early 1947 to May 1948, when the State of Israel was declared, Amalia (Mania) Schoeps was director of Sciesopoli.The house was organized by members of the Gordonia movement, a Zionist pioneering youth movement named for Aaron David Gordon. Its motto was Beit Aliyat HaNo'ar, "house of the youth aliya", where aliya means "ascension" [to the Land of Israel], i.e. moving to the Land of Israel. It was a Hakshara — a kibbutz outside of (then) Palestine for the training of chaluzim or young pioneers to move to the Land of Israel, a Zionist collective which emphasized a preparatory program of studying and working before making aliya.

At that time, many residents of Selvino gave shelter and extended hospitality to Jewish families, which was documented in the City Hall of Selvino. After 1948, Sciesopoli was transformed into a home for needy and sick children, as well as a public school for these children.

In 1983, a group of 66 Jews, once refugee children in Selvino, returned to town. The Mayor, Vinicio Grigis, and town residents received them warmly. The city of Selvino was twinned with Kibbutz Tze'elim in the Negev, where many "Children of Selvino" settled. Since 1983, many survivors and their family members have returned to Selvino, tracing their past of the Bricha (flight) and Aliyah Bet.

A plaque was installed in 1983, but was shortly afterwards removed; its fate is unknown. It read:

Between the years 1945–1948, nearly 800 children and youths – Holocaust orphans – were gathered in this house. They were survivors of the ghettos and concentration camps. Here the joys of youth and the belief in mankind, that was snatched from them, were restored to them. They learned their people's ancient tongue – the language of the Bible, and were prepared for life in their homeland – Israel. Here they learned to recognize and cherish the goodness of the Italian people.

The building is now in a state of complete abandonment, despite the efforts of the former mayor to allocate funds to publish in Italian the book written by Aharon Megged, and the twinning of the city with Kibbutz Tze'elim. Plans to demolish the building alarmed a group of activists who fear that a heroic chapter of history following the war will be erased from the memory of future generations. They believe that part of the building should be secured as a memorial/museum to honor the lives of orphan children survivors of the Holocaust, as well as honoring committed, well-wishing Italian citizens of Selvino.

As of 2014–2015 a movement to "restore and save Sciesopoli" has been established. As part of this, Miriam Bisk, Tami Sharon, Nitza Sarner, Marco Cavallarin, Enrico Grisanti, Bernardino Pasinelli and many other members of the organizing committee have collected signatures to lobby the Italian government.

Szczuczyn pogrom

Szczuczyn pogrom was the massacre of some 300 Jews in the community of Szczuczyn carried out by its Polish inhabitants in June 1941 after the town was bypassed by the invading German soldiers in the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The June massacre was stopped by German soldiers.

A subsequent massacre by Poles in July killed some 100 Jews, and following the German Gestapo takeover in August 1941 some 600 Jews were killed by the Germans, the remaining Jews placed in a ghetto, and subsequently sent to Treblinka extermination camp.

The Price of Fame (film)

The Price of Fame (French: La Rançon de la gloire) is a 2014 French comedy-drama film written and directed by Xavier Beauvois with an original score by composer Michel Legrand. The film was inspired by the true story about two marginalized immigrants who dug up Charlie Chaplin's coffin for ransom money in the 1970s. Its world premiere was 28 August 2014, directly competing for the Golden Lion at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. It was released on 7 January 2015 in France.

Uckermark concentration camp

The Uckermark concentration camp was a small German concentration camp for girls near the Ravensbrück concentration camp in Fürstenberg/Havel, Germany and then an "emergency" extermination camp.

Vichy anti-Jewish legislation

Anti-Jewish laws were enacted by the Vichy France government in 1940 and 1941 affecting metropolitan France and its overseas territories during World War II. These laws were, in fact, decrees of head of state Marshal Philippe Pétain, since Parliament was no longer in office as of 11 July 1940. The motivation for the legislation was spontaneous and was not mandated by Germany. These laws were declared null and void on 9 August 1944 after liberation and on the restoration of republican legality.

The statutes were aimed at depriving Jews of the right to hold public office, designating them as a lower class, and depriving them of citizenship. Many Jews were subsequently rounded up at Drancy internment camp before being deported for extermination in Nazi concentration camps.

Wąsosz pogrom

The Wąsosz pogrom was the World War II mass murder of Jewish residents of Wąsosz in German-occupied Poland, on 5 July 1941.

Yizkor books

Yizkor books are memorial books commemorating a Jewish community destroyed during the Holocaust. The books are published by former residents or landsmanshaft societies as remembrances of homes, people and ways of life lost during World War II. Yizkor books usually focus on a town but may include sections on neighboring smaller communities. Most of these books are written in Yiddish or Hebrew, some also include sections in English or other languages, depending on where they were published. Since the 1990s, many of these books, or sections of them have been translated into English.

Youth village

A youth village (Hebrew: כפר נוער‎, Kfar No'ar) is a boarding school model first developed in Mandate Palestine in the 1930s to care for groups of children and teenagers fleeing the Nazis. Henrietta Szold and Recha Freier were the pioneers in this sphere, known as youth aliyah, creating an educational facility that was a cross between a European boarding school and a kibbutz.

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