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Object ID

2016.1.63ab

Object Name

Contracts

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Description

a: Hebrew handwriting on ¾ of graph paper page, hole at center from fold marks; b: Hebrew handwriting on entire face of page, hole at center from fold marks

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:Leah Friedman and Yehuda Edelstein had lived in Salg Tarj N in northern Hungary, near the border of Slovakia, before World War II. Prior to the German occupation, the city had a thriving Jewish community and was home to thousands of Jews. In May 1944, a ghetto was established and the Jews who had not already fled the city were forced to move there. On June 13, more than 2,300 Jews were deported to Auschwitz. Leah and Yehuda were among the 120 who survived the camp, returned to Salg Tarj N, and were married in 1946. They relocated to the displaced persons camp Fohrenwald (Fernwald) in Germany.

In July 1947, the Edelsteins boarded the SS Exodus 1947, originally named the President Warfield, fitted out for the Aliyah Bet to carry Jewish Holocaust survivors illegally to Palestine, at this time still under the British mandate and Britain’s quota of Jewish immigrants. The Exodus carried 4,515 immigrants, including 655 children. Yehuda Edelstein was a member of the crew. On July 18, 1947, the Exodus was intercepted by the British cruiser Ajax and a flotilla of destroyers. Undaunted and unwilling to withdraw, the passengers resisted British incursions. The Exodus was rammed, and in the struggle that ensued, several passengers and a crewman were killed – including an American volunteer – and many were injured before the Exodus was finally seized and towed to Haifa. The passengers were placed on deportation ships bound for France, but refused to debark, and the French government would not force the passengers off the ship. Remarkably, they were sent back to Germany, forcibly removed from the ships, and placed in DP camps. The Edelsteins were sent to the Poppendorf DP Camp. After almost a year in these camps, most of the passengers were able to leave for Israel, including the Edelsteins and their daughter, who had been born on the ship.

The fate of the Holocaust survivors in the Exodus affair became an important international symbol of the Jewish struggle for a homeland and the establishment of a Jewish state. Britain had conceded that it could no longer manage either the political instability in Palestine or the refugee crisis, and submitted the matter to the United Nations. The Exodus, exemplar of the Aliyah Bet, became known as “the ship that launched a nation”.

Dimensions

a:11 5/8 x 8 1/4" ; b: 11 5/8 x 8 1/4"

Keywords

Yehuda Edelstein, Leah Friedman

Engagement and Marital Contracts between Yehuda Edelstein and Leah Friedman

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