The ship was filled with Jewish refugees, desperately seeking a new life in the Promised Land after the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. But, thanks to the Royal Navy, they were sent back to prison camps in Germany

By Robert Verkaik
Monday, 5 May 2008

When British soldiers reached the concentration camps of Nazi Germany in the last days of the Second World War, the survivors of the Holocaust hailed them as saviours.

The troops’ gruesome discoveries at Bergen-Belsen in 1945, where piles of skeletal corpses lay amid the camp’s death ovens and gas chambers, prompted Britain’s political leaders to promise that the world would never forget the suffering of the Jews.

Yet, just two years later, the British government was accused of mistreating thousands of Holocaust survivors, who, when prevented from fleeing to Palestine, had been forcibly sent back to barbed-wire detention camps in Germany, staffed by Germans.

Secret papers released at the National Archives for the first time today reveal the fate of Jewish immigrants aboard the 1947 refugee ship Exodus and the bitter propaganda battle that ensued when Britain used force to return them to Germany.