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On the way to Israel, thousands of Jews found refuge in the hospitable land of Cyprus

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On their way to Israel and the establishment of their own state, 52 thousand Jews found refuge in Cyprus and more than two thousand Jewish children were born in our country, in detention camps in Karaolos, Xylotympos , Dhekelia and elsewhere, the period 1946-1949.

The land of Cyprus was the refuge of the Holocaust survivors, and yesterday, 73 years after the closure of their detention camps, the state honored this anniversary, “a testament to the long-standing friendship between Cyprus and Israel and the ties between the two peoples. as they were formed in the period between 1946 and 1949 “, as said the Minister of Defense, Charalambos Petridis. The presence of over 50,000 Jewish refugees in Cyprus is a story that deserves to be remembered by the younger and future generations, he noted.

The Ambassador of Israel to Cyprus, Oren Anolik, stated that “we honor the 52,000 Jews who passed through Cyprus and the 2,200 children born in the detention camps, as well as the Cypriot people who stood by them in solidarity, we honor the generosity of those who offered “unconditionally to our people, we thank the descendants of these people who keep this heritage alive.” Let us not forget, he said, that this period was the beginning of the close ties between our two states, which continue to develop, he pointed out.

Shocking was the moment when the Israeli ambassador referred to the personal story of a member of his family, who at the age of 15 was from Romania to Cyprus, on his way to Israel. Despite the difficult living conditions in the detention camps, the Jewish refugees were able to continue their cultural and religious activities, Anolik said, adding that “this period is deeply ingrained in the collective memory of the Israeli people and is an important chapter in our history.” The temporary stay of 52,000 Jewish refugees in Cyprus was a preparatory step for their smooth integration into the state of Israel. “

The Israeli ambassador also said that the history of the Jewish refugees was not known to the Cypriot people for many decades, noting that “the monument dedicated to the birth of more than 2,000 Jewish children prisoners marks the creation of a common landmark in the collective memory of both peoples.”

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From the online encyclopedia polignosi we read about:

“Twelve camps operated in Cyprus and a total of 52,221 immigrants of Jewish origin resided in them from 1946-1949. Jews began to be relocated to Cyprus after World War II. These people gave birth to 2,200 children at the British Military Hospital BMH.

Historical background

After the end of World War II, and after the Holocaust tragedy, the question of the creation of a Jewish state came back to the forefront.

The so-called Jewish question had to be resolved, at a time when the Jewish population in the Palestinian territories was 550,000-600,000.

At the same time, the peoples' demand for freedom and the continuing weakening of the British Empire affected the whole situation in the Middle East.

In this context, the British, after first leaving Jordan and shortly before In February 1947, Britain asked the newly formed United Nations to rule on the fate of Palestine, the last Western “mandate” in the Middle East. East.

The special commission set up by the UN to study the situation and finally presented two plans for the future of Palestine: the first plan envisaged the division of Palestine with the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state, while the second, the plan of the minority , favored the federal union of the two states and the pursuit of a common foreign and defense policy.

The Jewish side accepted the majority proposal, while the Arabs rejected both proposals. Thus, on November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly decided by a majority to establish two states, one Arab and one Jewish.

According to Dr. Evangelia Matthopoulou, Modern and Contemporary History, the Jews remained in Cyprus until February 10, 1949. In recent months, about 10 thousand men of conscription age remained, as the British government was concerned that the mass arrival of its men by Of Cyprus in Palestine would militarily strengthen the Jewish side and strengthen the prospects of a truce between Jews and Arabs.

Summer camp

The displaced “illegal immigrants”, as considered by Britain, were “housed” in detention facilities. The so-called summer camp operated in the area of ​​Karaolos, north of Famagusta, while the winter camp in the area of ​​Xylofagou-Ormidia. Britain, trying to maintain balance, blocked their way to Palestine. The Cypriots of the island, however, helped them to escape.

In the three years 1946-1949, 12 “plains” were erected in the areas of Karaolou in Famagusta and in Xylotympou-Dekelia. Jews of all ages, especially orphans who lost their parents in the Holocaust, were “housed” in detention facilities in miserable conditions. Their only concern is to get to Palestine. The British detention camps did not offer any comfort to the displaced. This conclusion also follows from what Emanuel Gutmann said. The professor was sent to Cyprus by the Jewish organization Haganah in Palestine to work as a teacher for juvenile detainees. As he had recorded, the people had only one wooden bed. That was all their property and occupation. Inactivity and boredom prevailed in the camp. In addition, the British were trying to keep their distance from the prisoners. They did not deal with them and abandoned them to their fate. Lack of clothing and poor nutrition have left these three years in their memory as nightmares.

The first

The first Jewish refugees arrived on the island on August 15, 1946. Cypriot and British workers worked to build the detention centers. In fact, the Jews were asked to help for a fee in the construction of their own “prisons”. Their response was shocking, stating that “[…] several camps have been built all over Europe and that they do not want to build another camp” (“Eleftheria”, August 31, 1946). Yet another event that infuriated the Jewish refugees was the presence of German prisoners of war in the British administration. They had been transferred to the island to once again build detention centers for the recently “liberated” Jews who survived the Nazi Holocaust. The chairman of the camp's Jewish Committee had told reporters that if the Germans dared to approach the camp, dramatic situations would unfold.


According to According to the official data of the period, the poor living conditions did not prevent the Jews from falling in love and continuing their lives. Thus, marriages took place between the detainees and about 2,200 children were born behind the barbed wire. In addition, there were schools in detention facilities where young Jews received their first education. “

Source: politis.com.cy

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