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Yad Vashem This Month in Holocaust History
February 1944, The “Nyassa”, carrying refugees from Europe, reaching Haifa from Portugal

February 1944

The “Nyassa”, carrying refugees from Europe, reaching Haifa from Portugal

The photograph shows the “Nyassa”, a ship that sailed from Portugal and reached Haifa port in February 1944, carrying refugees from Europe.  The blue and white flag is visible on deck, flying next to the flag of Portugal.

Even at the height of World War II, a limited number of Jewish immigrants were arriving in Eretz Israel legally, permitted entry by the British in accordance with the “White Paper”.  The passengers on the Nyassa were apparently in this category.  The third White Paper, published in May 1939, laid out, inter alia, British policy regarding Jewish immigration to Palestine – Eretz Israel.  The document stipulated that in the following five years, 75,000 Jews would be granted entry.  Jews who were caught while attempting to immigrate illegally (“Haapalah”, “Aliyah Bet”) and were imprisoned in detention camps in Eretz Israel and elsewhere, were released only when it became possible to include them in the quota of entrance permits to Eretz Israel (“certificates”) in accordance with the White Paper regulations.

The Nyassa was built in 1906 by a German company, and became the property of the Portuguese government during World War I.  In 1925 the ship was purchased by a private entity, and was used to transport Jewish refugees to mandatory Palestine.  The Nyassa was dismantled in 1951.

Yad Vashem Photo Archives, 156FO3