A Jewish past in Mauritius
In 1940 thousands of Jews were trying to flee Nazi persecution in Europe. This is the little-known story of a group of 1,600 Jewish refugees who, having escaped from Nazi-occupied Europe, were refused entry into Palestine by the British in 1940 because they were considered illegal immigrants. Their deportation after landing in the Promised Land, Eretz Israel, was unique. As a deterrent to others, they were deported to Mauritius, a remote island in the Indian Ocean. They were detained in a Mauritian prison until the end of the war and were deprived of all basic human rights, even that of family life. This story sheds light on the British government’s lack of understanding of the critical problem of Jewish refugees at that time.
In the shadows of Beau Bassin
To watch a documentary by Kevin Harris about the story of the Jewish detainees in Beau Bassin prison from 1940 till 1945, please click on this link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIr6vYN1yHo (Long version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7eqyezKLWA (short version)
The Mauritian Shekel
This book by Geneviéve Pitot, tells the story of the Jewish Detainees in Mauritius from 1940 to 1945.
The Jewish Museum in Mauritius.
The official opening of The Beau Bassin Jewish Detainees Memorial Museum and Information Centre took place in November 2014.
The museum, which is situated adjacent to the St Martin cemetery was created to honor and remember some 127 Jewish detainees who died at Beau Bassin prison between 1940 and 1945 and are buried at the cemetery.This little known, forgotten turn of events is brought to our emotional attention by the initiative of a few people. Most local Mauritians have no knowledge of this piece of history which took place in their homeland.Rebbetzen Ann Harris from South Africa traveled to Mauritius to cut the ribbon at the official opening.
The museum takes visitors through a series of display panels and some artifacts, telling the story of Jewish detainees in Mauritius between 1940 and 1945.Details of the hardships these detainees suffered are described in various writings which are now preserved. The documents record their resilience and how they succeeded to create a sense of community in spite of their struggle for freedom in an extremely uncertain time.
Many dignitaries, the local media and well-wishers were present.
Some of the initiators and most dedicated people like Owen Griffiths, president of the Island Hebrew Congregation; Israeli Deputy Ambassador Michael Freeman and Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft, spiritual leader and CEO of the African Jewish Congress attended this meaningful event.