After the war, many survivors decided to go to Palestine. However, the British government, which held the League of Nations mandate to govern Palestine, severely limited immigration.
During the war a group of Palestinian Jews had fought with the British army. It was known as the Jewish Brigade. At the end of the war, these soldiers worked with former Jewish partisans to help survivors reach Palestine.
Between 1945 and 1948, around 70,000 attempted this. They left on overcrowded boats from European ports. The British, because of their immigration quota, stopped most of the ships. They sent the survivors to detention camps on Cyprus. Cyprus at that time was controlled by Britain.
The most famous ship of all was the ‘Exodus’. On 11 July 1947 the ‘Exodus’ left Marseilles in France with 4,500 survivors on board. The British captured the ship. Instead of sending the survivors back to Cyprus the authorities returned them to Germany.
Despite the British efforts the majority of homeless Jewish refugees still saw Palestine as their best chance of a future. As Britain continued its policy of detention of refugees, world opinion turned against these policies.
In January 1946 US president Harry Truman put pressure onto the British government to admit 100,000 Jewish refugees into Palestine.
The situation in Palestine was becoming very difficult. The British government finally referred the issue to the United Nations, which voted, in November 1947, to partition Palestine into two new states, one Jewish and the other Arab.
The British mandate on Palestine terminated on 14 May 1948. David Ben-Gurion, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, announced the formation of the state of Israel. He declared;
“The Nazi Holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews in Europe, proved anew the urgency of the re-establishment of the Jewish State, which would solve the problem of Jewish homelessness by opening the gates to all Jews and lifting the Jewish people to equality in the family of nations.”
The announcement of the state Israel opened the door for Holocaust survivors from DP camps in Europe and from detention camps on Cyprus to enter the country.