News > Languedoc


71 years later, Israelis return to Sète pier

France 3/Scoop, Oct 11

On Thursday, about fifty Israelis gathered together on the Saint Louis pier in Sète. The event was a pilgrimage to the spot where the ship Exodus left Sète 71 years ago. The ship was carrying thousands of Jewish survivors of the Nazi camps to Palestine in 1947. More than 4,500 Jews were on board.

The pilgrims who arrived at the pier on Thursday were mostly survivors of the trip. Children at the time, they still remembered. “It was crowded, we were lying on the ground, there were pregnant women, we had 61 days on the boat in terrible conditions.”

One of the children who's mother was pregnant with him at the time, told reporters from France 3, “My mother told me that it was so crowded that everyone had to turn over at the same time during the night.  It was someone’s job to shout ’turn over!’"

Carmen, who was’t part of the boat trip, was on the pier that day in 1947. “I was 14 years old and I was with my dad on the pier, and he wanted me to witness what was going on, I was there then, and today at 85, I still haven’t forgotten. Everyone was crying, it was inhuman what was happening, even my dad was crying.”

Historians say Exodus 1947 helped unify the Jewish community of Palestine and the Holocaust-survivor refugees in Europe as well as significantly deepening international sympathy for the plight of Holocaust survivors and rallying support for the idea of a Jewish state.

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