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Atlit Camp

Throughout our lives, we have always been learning about the Holocaust. The camps, the suffering, and the anti-Semitism were all mentioned in classes of ours. But what my classmates and I never learned was what happened after the Holocaust had ended. Unfortunately, things didn’t go back to normal and the suffering still continued.

To learn more about this, we visited the Atlit displaced persons camp. First, our tour guide showed us a display of what the camp looked like. It contained over eighty barracks with barbed wire around it and watch towers that were placed at the corners of the camp. She took us to a boat that was a replica of what the boats that carried the illegal immigrants from Europe had looked like. Inside the boat, we watched a movie about what happened in Atlit and the travel to Palestine. Loads of people were crammed onto a boat. The boats usually had Israeli advertisements written on the sides to trick the British into thinking they were carrying cargo for the Jews living in Palestine. The passengers were only allowed on the deck if they had permission and the trip lasted at most, a week.

The British found most ships and once they did, they arrested everyone and took them to Atlit to be disinfected. To be disinfected, you had to take off your clothes and take a shower. When these Holocaust survivors heard this, they immediately started to panic and put up a fight, thinking these were gas chambers. But the survivors quickly learned that they were safe there. Classes were held on the camps and activities and games were there too.

The people were again, crammed in a room and were fed, but not much. Every night there was a curfew and they had to check in with a worker. After, they were locked in their rooms for the rest of the night until the morning. Months passed by and members from groups that were fighting for a Jewish country broke them out (which we also learned about).

We were able to go inside the barracks and see where they slept and spent most of their time. Many of the displaced persons were children without any parents that survived the Holocaust. It was very hard for all of us to imagine ourselves in those children’s position; the horrid memories, not having anyone to take care of you and being in a prison with tons of others.

After our tour, it was obvious to us that life after the Holocaust wasn’t easy; the Jews were still unwanted and found themselves prisoners in what should be their land. Touring the Atlit camp was a highlight of Yom Hashoah, we got the chance to see what many Holocaust survivors had to go through after all their suffering.

~Erica