Golda's Stories of the Holocaust
Part III - Elevation
Section 2 – Immigration to Israel
Chapter 3 – The battle against the British destroyers
We see the Holy Land but cannot arrive at it.
We continued to sail onward and I didn't understand anymore where we are.
Suddenly, at a time that was not expected, we were informed that we are nearby. The Land of Israel is not far away and we are near Haifa.
We got very excited, but were forbidden to go up to the deck and watch the Carmel Mount with our own eyes.
We waited patiently to the moment when we shall reach the shore.
At the time that we were still in the international sea ways everything was fine and we were not disturbed. But from the hour that we got closer to the land the sailing was stopped.
Few English destroyers, long and sumptuous, that were spread throughout the sea, surrounded our ship and approached.
They waited for the ship to arrive at the territorial waters that they controlled legally, in order to stop us.
When we saw the destroyers approaching, a big group of guys and few girls was organized immediately.
I was among them.
We had to try to resist, with the hope that we shall succeed to drive away the English.
We prepared quickly eight long and strong poles.
We tied perpendicularly to each side of the ship four poles, like giant oars.
The ship continued in her sail.
Thanks to the poles, the destroyers, which were already very close, were not able to get attached to the ship.
We continued in this way until we arrived very close to Bat Galim shore, close to Haifa port. The English tried again and again to get attached to the ship, but did not succeed.
We progressed rapidly.
suddenly the English shot on us many tear gas bombs.
The gas did not evaporate easily. It burned our eyes and suffocated us.
We started to cough continually.
I had a water-bottle with coffee on my belt. I cleaned from time to time my face with the coffee, and drunk a little bit. The gas ceased to suffocate, the burning in my eyes decreased and I continued to fight.
We arrived very close to the beach.
The destroyers did not succeed to crash the poles.
Therefore a greater second salvo of tear gas was shot at us.
We got weaker and were forced to hide under the deck.
The ship was finally stopped close to the shore.
The destroyers got attached to the poles.
Few soldiers, wearing gas masks, started to crawl on the poles.
When we saw this, everyone who could went out to the deck.
I too went out, the only girl, covered for my defense with a pot on the head and a tin plate on the chest.
We started to throw bottles, stones and various objects on the soldiers.
It was all that we could do.
I cried out aloud: "Fascists"! "Fascists with white gloves"!
They saw that I am a girl, and called angrily through the speaker: "The girl must go down"! "She should not be on the deck"! "What happens here is not for her"!
I saw suddenly an English soldier progressing rapidly on the pole to the deck.
I was very close to him and pushed him from the pole to the sea.
They threatened furiously that they will kill me.
From the many of us who were at the beginning on the deck, only a few were left.
After the second salvo of tear gas bombs, it was impossible to stay on it.
I was among the few who stayed.
More and more soldiers crawled together on the poles.
About twenty of them succeeded to climb together on the ship.
They took controlled over it.
Two from them caught me first.
They threw me down and beat me. Many hits, but not strong.
In the course of it they said angrily: "You deserve the most, because you was very bad and threw our friend to the sea".
Then they put something in my mouth.
I became dizzy, started to cough and became hoarse for many hours.
Later my friends explained me that it was a powder which cause a temporary loss of senses.
When the English took control over the ship we were in a swimming distance from the beach.
So close we were to the Carmel Mount Head, that we felt almost like bathers who came for the daily swim.
The skipper gave a quick advice: "Those who can, may jump and escape".
Very few succeeded to swim to the beach.
Israeli messengers waited for them. They gathered them and gave them clothes and local documents, as a proof that they are not illegal immigrants.
The English brought a special jail ship that her deck was fenced with high nets.
They ordered: "All of you must pass to this ship ".
Our commander Loba Eliav explained that we failed and we don't have any choice. We are sent to Cyprus.
We cried, we shouted, but everything was in vein.
We were expelled to Cyprus, a sailing distance of few hours.
One of the commanders of "Haim Arlozorov" was a young man from America named Benjamin. Before leaving the ship, my commander requested that I will help him. The English were able to identify the commanders and arrest them.
Benjamin requested that I will do an effort to cover on him when we shall go down, in order that he will not be discovered. He gave me a small package, that later I understood that there was a pistol in it. He requested also that when we shall go down, we shall hold arms as if he is my husband. The idea succeeded and we passed all the checks.
The ship "Haim Arlozorov" remained stuck on the shore's sands for many days after the battle. Local residents sailed to her in small boats and looted the entire luggage that was in her.
It is known today that the Israeli leaders knew in advance that the English can detect the immigration ships by radar and the chances of the refugees to reach safely the shore are minimal.
The immigration of the refugees from the concentration camps was planned in order to create a pressure on the world public opinion and to bring the English in this way to improve their attitude toward the Jewish population in Israel.