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Purity of Arms

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British Intelligence Report on the Arrival of the "Northland"  E-mail

OCTOBER 3, 1947

1.         At the time of writing the illegal Jewish passengers from the NORTHLAND, which was towed into HAIFA soon after 1333 hrs on 3 Oct 1947 have not disembarked owing to shortage of shipping space for their onward journey to CYPRUS. They have therefore neither been searched  nor have they passed through the Security screens normally set up by this Section, and it has been virtually impossible to make satisfactory contact with them for the purpose of compiling an Intelligence report.  It may well be therefore, that information so far obtained is­ incomplete and should any .further information of interest be obtained when they finally complete their normal transshipment in the near future, this will be published an Appendix "B” to this report.

2.          The information which we publish below was obtained from Field Security target teams who were obliged to remove documents in a more or less clandestine manner, and from the interrogation of some sick passengers whilst they were being. medically examined by doctors.

3. The passengers of the NORTHLAND were chiefly of Rumanian origin. There were also some Germans and Austrians among them. Rather like the passengers on the PADUCAH, they were drawn chiefly from one country, in a way which had not been noticed previously this year. They spoke Rumanian, Yiddish and French and practically no other language, although they were doing their best to communicate with the soldiers on the dockside.

4.         Most of the passengers were about 25 years old but there was also a remarkably high number of Jews over 50, several of whom were decrepit. This may be due to the fact that immigration from a Russian-controlled area is organized by families, so grandfather has to come along also.  The families were of fairly low middle class origin, ugly. dirty and shoddily dressed.  One Jewess said that she was quite disgusted with their behavior and was afraid that her baby would catch some disease if left on board.

5.         It was noticeable that, politically, the passengers were inclined more to the left wing than those on the PADUCAH, and the ship included three complete left-wing settlement groups by the names of ZIKIM, MAGEN, and a group consisting of 70 Scouts. There were also 140 MISHMAR members.  A complete breakdown of the ship is not yet available.



6.         The whole journey from the dispatch centres, through the­ collecting centres, and staging points, to the point of embarkation was in Russian-occupied territory and was extremely well organized.  Jews were full of praise in their private letters to their relatives for the arrangements.

7.         The Jews reached the town of BUCHAREST at about 22 Sep., and we have now discovered that they were detailed by HAGANAH leaders to join either the PADUCAH convoy or the one destined to embark upon the NORTHLAND.  Both ships, therefore, were part of one single large-scale evacuation plan in which candidates from RUMANIA (chiefly), HUNGARY, POLAND, and AUSTRIA concentrated around BUCHAREST which seems to have become a veritable transit camp, and from which they appear to have arrived in two flights: the first to BOURGAS for the PADUCAH, and the second, in all probability, to VARNA for the NORTHLAND.

8.         It will be remembered that at the end of para 5 of our report on the PADUCAH we mentioned that the train had halted for 24 hours on 23 Sep to observe the Jewish Day of Atonement. On this ship, however, several passengers maintained that they had passed the Day of Atonement on board, and it is thought that those with the journey to VARNA, which is shorter by some 150 miles, completed it in one stage, instead of stopping half-way.

9.       Letters were read by this Section, which indicate that some individuals arrived at VARNA directly from such towns as CERNOWITZ  (which is now Soviet territory), without passing in transit through the camps and billets around BUCHAREST.

10.     Nearly all the passengers of the NORTHLAND who wrote to relatives

in PALESTINE on arrival, asked them to send telegrams to those members of their families who were still in Russian-occupied Europe.

11.     On arrival at VARNA the party was welcomed by courteous Bulgarian officials who examined the collective passports, held by PALMACH leaders for each group, and directed them into the ships, in this case the railway line did not run onto the quayside.

12.     The sea journey was pleasant but crowded, and American tinned food was plentiful.



13.     When the NORTHLAND drew alongside the quay at HAIFA, the display of stage propaganda reminded observers of the noisy efforts made in April 1947 by the passengers of the GUARDIAN¹.  Groups of Jews in various parts of the ship began to sing HATIKVAH lustily and in many different keys. This noise was interrupted at frequent intervals by slogans such as "The Land of Israel to the People of Israel” and “We want a national home” shouted in chorus, with energy but badly out of tune.

14.   A few minutes later signs of preparation were visible midship and one Jew shouted in French, "Now , see the body”  whereupon the gruesome and very dead body of a year-old child was poked out of the upper hatch of what was obviously but equally inexplicably and  incongruously one of the ship’s much used emergency outboard lavatories.  Cameras flashed and the Jew holding the body made as if to throw it onto the soldiers beneath (please see para 10 of our report on the GUARDIAN¹).  Another Jew standing close beside the body then made a statement to the press saying, “The dirty Nazi-British assassins suffo­cated this innocent victim with gas”. Incidentally, we discovered that the child had died several days previously, according to the open admission of a Jewess on the other side of the ship who was not fully in the Jewish propaganda picture. Further slogans, abuse and invective, for a great part in French, were launched at the soldiers on the quayside, but it was remarkable that several passengers said in quieter and more confidential voices, for example, “It's not against you, it's for the Press”.

15.   The name of the ship had been changed to “MEDINATH HAYEHUDIM”, that is to say, “THE JEWISH STATE”,  and there was a large banner to this effect.  Another banner in English bore the rather cryptic message “GREECE, ROME, SPAIN, GERMANY, ---- ENGLAND”.

16.   It was evident that some of the Jews were enjoying themselves immensely, if only by the broad grins on their faces.

17.   When it was announced in Hebrew that the passengers would have to remain on board until ships arrived to take them to CYPRUS, but that they would be allowed to write to relatives in PALESTINE through the AJDC, there was a complete and stony silence, and then isolated voices shouted “YIDDISH, Yiddish”, as if they could not understand another tongue.  Mr. SHMUEL WERCHENGER of the Jewish Agency offered his services over the public address equipment since no Yiddish interpreter was immediately available.  He then took the microphone and told them that they would be sent to CYPRUS in one short, sharp phrase which aroused howls of anger and protest from the ship’s passengers, after which he hurried away and refused to say anything more.

18.     An impasse was reached when the Jews on board refused in spite of reasonable requests end explanations, to bring sick passengers on to the quay for treatment. SHMUEL WERCHENGER this time offered to go on board, and solve the difficulty, but after some twenty minutes, had only succeeded in precipitating violent arguments and much apparent bad feeling against the Airborne guards.  The ship's Jewish doctors, who were approached with a view to solving the problem, apparently warned their patients that the whole thing was a British intrigue to get the weakest members off the ship first and torture them.

19.     After about an hour and a half the passengers had exhausted themselves, and satisfied their histrionic urges;  they then behaved reasonably, although it is impossible to guarantee that this will continue when transshipment begins.


20.     The ship was a 1275 ton vessel built in 1927 by NEWPORT NEWS SHIPBUILDING COMPANY for the purpose of icebreaking and had a normal career until 4 May 47 when her master Captain MITCHELL, was ordered to move to BAYONNE for refitting. There, a certain CAPTAIN MORGAN of Room 32, GRAND HOTEL, took over command. The ship then visited a succession of French Ports and was next traced on the 12 Sep in the DARDANELLES, on the following day in the BOSPOROS, and the day after that at BURGAS, under a pilot names HASSAN ALI.  Nine days later she sailed for VARNA.

21.     The NORTHLAND was as filthy and more crowded than almost any other illegal ship on records.  The wireless transmitter was of similar pattern to that used in the PADUCAH.  There were some modifications, including an anti-boarding curtain of barbed wire.



22.     As in the case of the PADUCAH, Jewish security appeared good, although this cannot be properly assessed until a search and examination of documents is carried out on all passengers. Whilst in Europe the passengers had received HAGANAH instructions that they were not to write letters in Europe. This instruction is probably due in part to an efficient NEVD security screen:  one and the same screen which allowed the ships to sail eventually. Some ambitious cover stories were heard on the lines of that mentioned in para 14 of our report on the PADUCAH.



23.     The fact that many Jews wrote private letters to the effect that the rest of their families would be arriving on one of the following vessels may lead us to suppose that this is no isolated or private enterprise.


24.     There has so far been no noticeable reaction from the inhabitants of HAIFA.



25.     A crew list is attached at Appx “A”.  It is significant that WILLIAM BERNSTEIN, who was killed during the boarding of the PRESIDENT WARFIELD had a brother who addressed a meeting in MADISON SQUARE on the following week endorsing his brother's extreme and mischievous political outlook. It will be noticed that the chief mate of the NETHERLANDS is his brother ARTHUR BERNSTEIN.



26.     The following conclusions may be drawn from the above evidence:

a)     That RUSSIA has, if not organized, then at least connived at an international racket for encouraging violation of the PALESTINE immigration laws for the purpose of embarrassing HMG;  we thus find at least one point in common between RUSSIAN policy and that of the Jewish Agency.

b)     That the NORTHLAND sailed from a Bulgarian port with the full consent and co-operation of the Bulgarian Government officials,  and

c)     That there are reports to show that the PADUCAH and NORTHLAND may be the beginning of another phase in the Russian anti-British campaign in the Middle East.






Captain Evan J. Morgan



Arthur Bernstein

Chief Mate


Harold Abells

Second Mate


Irving Meltzer

Chief Radio Officer


Aron Keler

Second Radio Officer


Joseph Burns



Israel Shankman

Pharmacist mate


Edward Abadi



Isadore Rabinovich

Able Seaman


Morry Nezinsky

Able Seaman


Edward Kaplansky

Able Seaman


Jared Gibraltar

Able Seaman


Shmuel Hochman



A.L. Kolenetzov

Chief Engineer


A. Jacks, Smith

First Engineer


Pacquals Cypriani

Second Assistant


Lazarus Kahansky

Third Assistant


Marvin Weiss



Louis Braisley



Aaron Lebow



Siegfried Kusnitzki



David Bender



Delfina Guiseppe



Manfred Schelasnitski

Chief Steward





Stanley Jacks



Jack Friedland



Howard Edmundson




Eddy Kaplansky’s  note to the above crew list:

Missing from list:

Yoshke Almog (could be Joseph Burns?)

Avraham Miron

Ben Berg

Petachyah (Aron Keler’s associate)Arthur Bernstein did not make this trip, he left us in




Note written by Eddy Kaplansky to his fellow crewmate, Irving Meltzer, on 18th July,


“Sparks, for your amusement, I’m enclosing a copy of a report made by the British soon after the Northland’s capture.  I found it when browsing through Northland files recently  at Haganah Archives.  The covering internal Haganah memo in Hebrew (unsigned and dated 20 October 1947) reveals that it was obtained surreptitiously within hours of its completion from someone in the “P.S.S.” (probably Palestine Security Section).  The same memo states that an unnamed P.S.S. sergeant claimed that the crew list was taken from the Captain’s room together with other documents.  Anyhow, now we know for sure that they had our names”.


Jewish State

“Northland”, name changed to “Jewish State” (Medinat Hayehudim)



Editor’s note:  ¹”Guardian” - Haganah.