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January 2, 1948 Illegal Immigrants to Palestine

Illegal Immigrants to PalestineTop Secret

Preliminary Report on the Disembarkation form the Pan Ships, York and Crescent


A peculiar disembarkation of some 15,300 Rumanian Jews began at about 1000 hours on 1 January 48 in Famagusta Harbour when the 2 Panamanian vessels Pan York and Crescent, which had been bound for the shores of Palestine volunteered to discharge their passengers in Cyprus….


Rather like the previous illegal Jewish ships which sailed under Soviet auspices from a Bulgarian port, the Pan York and Crescent contained a load drawn almost entirely form Rumania and differed at least in this way from other illegal immigrant vessels which usually contain a mixed bag of European Jews. It is also noticeable yet once again that the passengers have apparently been evacuated from Rumania by complete families including aged grandparents and very young children. In many cases these families were split up between the 2 ships.

The highest proportion of children in the past year was contained in these ships and the load was almost equally divided between men women and children some of whom however may later be counted as adult by the Jewish Agency representatives. The Pan York alone carried 700 children under the age of 5.

The passengers were small businessmen, shopkeepers professional lawyers and doctors and they carried large quantities of baggage each, but there was no form of weight control and this allowance was frequently exceeded they were well dressed. Only very few turned up in rags and empty-handed. Most of them were small, rather fat and complacent. They nearly all spoke Rumanian, Yiddish and French and German. Those who did not speak Rumanian spoke Russian and claimed to come from Bessarabia. Owing to the speed at which the operation had to be conducted, it was not possible to make a detailed examination of the Russian speakers. It was noticed however that they were not physically of a characteristically Russian type….


An analysis of documents carried and political parties on board will be produced in the final report by 299FS Sec after scrutiny of documents held by them….

Conditions in Rumania

Most of the passenger on the Pan Ships were agreed that there were still a large number of Rumanian Jews who wanted to leave the country for Palestine. In several case they explained that these Jews would be a waiting the increased legal immigration quota which they hoped for as a result of partition. They thought therefore that there would not be any more large illegal shipments at least for the next month and they believe that their Communist Government will grant them exit visas to correspond with their certificates after May.


The following conclusions may be drawn from the above evidence:

(a) That if any large guerrilla groups of communists exist among the Russian speakers of this shipment, they are either still on board or else have arrived unarmed and without documents.

(b) That the movements, planning and administration of the final evacuation form Burgas at short notice was well and thoroughly carried out.

(c) That the Moscow controlled Communist Government of Rumania intended at all costs to evacuate this shipment of Jews and came to an agreement with Bulgaria to use a Bulgarian Port for this purpose after the delay at Constanza due, probably, to British representations. The abdication of King Michael at this juncture may well be NOT coincidental

Famagusta, Cyprus

Source: pages 22-23 : Nation

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