Post-Holocaust Politics

Britain, the United States, and Jewish Refugees, 1945-1948

By Arieh J. Kochavi

400 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 photographs, 3 maps, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1483-0
    Published: February 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7509-4
    Published: January 2003

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Awards & distinctions

2002 Buchman Memorial Prize, Yad Vashem

Between 1945 and 1948, more than a quarter of a million Jews fled countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkans and began filling hastily erected displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria. As one of the victorious Allies, Britain had to help find a solution for the vast majority of these refugees who refused repatriation. Drawing on extensive research in British, American, and Israeli archives, Arieh Kochavi presents a comprehensive analysis of British policy toward Jewish displaced persons and reveals the crucial role the United States played in undermining that policy.

Kochavi argues that political concerns--not human considerations--determined British policy regarding the refugees. Anxious to secure its interests in the Middle East, Britain feared its relations with Arab nations would suffer if it appeared to be too lax in thwarting Zionist efforts to bring Jewish Holocaust survivors to Palestine. In the United States, however, the American Jewish community was able to influence presidential policy by making its vote hinge on a solution to the displaced persons problem. Setting his analysis against the backdrop of the escalating Cold War, Kochavi reveals how, ironically, the Kremlin as well as the White House came to support the Zionists' goals, albeit for entirely different reasons.

About the Author

Arieh J. Kochavi is professor of history at the University of Haifa in Israel. He is author of Prelude to Nuremburg: Allied War Crimes Policy and the Question of Punishment.
For more information about Arieh J. Kochavi, visit the Author Page.


"Skillfully demonstrates--while paying meticulous attention to the voluminous historical evidence he has unearthed--that for the British, humanitarian considerations were eclipsed by political and pragmatic calculations. . . . A major contribution to our understanding of how the DP issue and the Zionist’s manipulation of it helped undermine the British policy in the Middle East."--Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"Kochavi provides one of the most complete assessments yet of why, for the Jews, liberation was not the same thing as redemption."--Choice

"A valuable study of the mass exodus of Jews from East Central Europe after World War II."--New York Review of Books

"A perceptive and intelligent assessment of British policy in a complicated multinational context, as well as a comparative analysis of the policies of Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and several other states. . . . An important window on the complicated diplomacy surrounding the international origins of Israeli statehood."--Journal of American History

"[Kochavi] examines the history of the displaced persons problem in the widest context so far. . . . Kochavi's excellent account is the most comprehensive study so far."--American Jewish History

"Meticulously researched and elegantly written."--Shofar