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Jewish Detainees in Mauritius
September 1941

Introduction by Henry Wellisch

Background
Database
Acknowledgements
Searching the Database

Background

This database contains information on 1,518 persons who were deported to the island of Maritius after a ship carrying them exploded and sank.

In 1940, over 3,400 Jews from central Europe tried to reach Palestine with an "illegal" transport on three ancient Greek steamers, the Atlantic, Pacific and Milos.  When the Pacific and Milos arrived in Haifa in early November, the British government decided to deport the whole lot and transferred the passengers to the liner Patria.

After the arrival of the Atlantic and before the passengers from this ship had been transferred to the Patria, the ship exploded and sank, with the loss of about 250 of the refugees.  The Patria had been sabotaged by the Jewish underground, so as to prevent the deportation, but something went wrong.  The bomb was intended to disable the engines but was too powerful and blew a hole in the side of the ship, which then capsized.

After this disaster, the British government, because of the personal intervention of Winston Churchill, decided to allow those refugees who had been on the Patria to remain in Palestine, but the 1,700 passengers of the Atlantic were still deported to the island of Mauritius — an island in the Indian Ocean — a British colony at the time.

The refugees stayed in a camp on the island until the end of the war, and were then allowed to return to Palestine.  A very small number returned to their countries of origin.  During the war years, 127 died in the camp and were buried in the Jewish cemetery on the island (see JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR).  A number of the detainees volunteered for some of the allied armies, including the Jewish Brigade Group, a British unit.

In 1941 the Jewish Agency, the governing body of Palestinian Jewry at the time, asked the British Colonial Office to supply them with a list of the detainees, and this was done in September of 1941.

The typewritten list, currently in the British National Archives, has a few handwritten notes on some individuals who died in the camp in 1942 and a few who were returned to Palestine in 1944.

Database

This database includes 1,518 detainees from the fall of 1941, with some additional handwritten comments as late as 1944.

The fields for this database are as follows:

  • Page / Line number
  • Surname
  • Maiden Name
  • Given name
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Classification
  • Comments

Acknowledgments

The information contained in this database was indexed from files and correspondence available at the National British Archives [CO 733/449/40 - C374584].  Henry Wellisch and Paul Silverstone, independent researchers and JewishGen volunteers, compiled the list.

In addition, thanks to JewishGen Inc. for providing the website and database expertise to make this database accessible.  Special thanks to Warren Blatt and Michael Tobias for their continued contributions to Jewish genealogy.  Particular thanks to Nolan Altman, Vice President of Data Acquisition and Coordinator of JewishGen's Holocaust Database files.

Nolan Altman
Coordinator - Holocaust Database
December, 2009


Searching the Database

This database is searchable via JewishGen's Holocaust Database.


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