When Britain Imprisoned 1,500 Jewish Refugees from Hitler’s Europe in Mauritius

In the fall of 1940, some 3,500 Jews from Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany—many of whom had spent the previous two years in Dachau, and were released on the condition that they would leave Europe—made their way to the Romanian port of Tulcea, on the Black Sea. There they boarded three ships bound for Palestine, but Britain had other plans. Robert Philpot writes:

In October 1940, the colonial secretary, George Lloyd, requested the governor of Mauritius, [an island in the Indian Ocean then under British rule], to accommodate 4,000 Jewish refugees he believed were heading for Palestine. In some respects, Lloyd’s attitude was unsurprising: just a year before, the British government’s White Paper had set strict limits on the number of Jewish migrants who would be allowed into Palestine.

But enforcement of the quota wasn’t his only concern. The refugees, Lloyd warned the Mauritius governor, should be held in a camp, behind barbed wire and kept under constant guard. . . . The commander of British military forces in the Middle East similarly warned that it was unlikely that the Nazis would not attempt to plant agents among the refugees.

The British government was, however, not entirely at one in its approach and there was an undercurrent of disquiet. The prime minister, Winston Churchill, attempted to soften Lloyd’s orders that the refugees be held behind barbed wire, warning him: “We cannot have a British Dachau.” But Churchill’s request—that the Jews be treated as refugees and not criminals—was effectively ignored.

In December, despite the Haganah’s desperate attempts to interfere, 1,580 of the refugees—temporarily being held in a prison in Haifa—were sent on the seventeen-day oversea journey to Mauritius:

In Mauritius itself, the ground had been prepared. Detainees at the central prison of Beau Bassin were removed to free up space for the refugees. . . . The first eighteen months of the refugees’ time in Mauritius were particularly harsh. They could not leave the camp and there was little by way of family life. Indeed, their detention, combined with the authorities’ insistence the refugees would never be allowed to enter Palestine, proved devastating for some. Although unrecorded on any official documents, a number of refugees died by suicide. In total, 128 refugees did not survive their time on Mauritius, and are buried at the St. Martin Jewish cemetery on the island.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Adolf Hitler, Holocaust, Mandate Palestine, United Kingdom, Winston Churchill

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin