1939 – 1945 : Six million Jews are ruthlessly murdered by the Nazi regime in a mass genocide.

Although Israel’s legitimacy in no way rests on the Holocaust, to many Jews, the unspeakable cruelty and horror of the Nazis’ genocide of European Jewry laid bare Zionism’s necessity for the safety and prosperity of the Jewish people. Following the liberation of the Nazi camps and the fall of the Nazi regime in 1945, many Jews were displaced with no home to turn to and no country that would take them.

Holocaust survivors following the liberation of Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau (1945).

A group of Jewish refugees in a Cyprus detention camp.

The British had restricted immigration to the British Mandate for Palestine through the White Papers of 1939.

Jews in the British Mandate for Palestine and former partisan fighters displaced in central Europe created the Brihah (Hebrew for “flight” or “escape”). This organization, formed clandestinely in 1944 and which intensified its operations in 1946, aimed to facilitate the exodus of Jewish refugees from Europe to the British Mandate for Palestine. Jews already living in the land organized “illegal” immigration by ship (also known as Aliyah Bet). In most cases, the British detained Jewish refugees and denied them entry into the British Mandate for Palestine.

An identity check of Eastern European Jews who left for the British Mandate for Palestine (post-World War II) as part of the Brihah.

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