underground movement, both organized and spontaneous, of jewish holocaust survivors fleeing eastern europe for palestine.
Functioning from about 1944 through 1948, the Brichah (Hebrew for flight) organization was officially established in Lublin, Poland, in January 1945, under the leadership of Abba Kovner. Among the founders were Jewish resistance fighters, partisans, and Zionist underground groups, all of whom had had previous experience in smuggling Jews across hostile borders in Nazi-occupied Europe during the Holocaust. The key transit points were Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Italy, and U.S. army–controlled zones in Germany and Austria.
The height of Brichah activity was in 1945 and 1946, when about 180,000 Jews fled or migrated. In 1946 the USSR closed its borders; in early 1947 Poland halted its lenient policy of allowing Jews to cross freely; in April 1947 the U.S. army declared that it was no longer accepting Jews in D.P. (displaced persons) camps. By 1948 Brichah activity was winding down, although some crossing points remained on the borders of Eastern Europe.
From 1944 through 1948, Brichah helped approximately 200,000 Jews to flee Eastern Europe. The organization's ideology was Zionism, and its importance lay not only in helping these Holocaust survivors flee lands of persecution, but, by bringing masses of Jews to Palestine, it also played a key role in the establishment of the State of Israel.
see also holocaust; israel; kovner, abba; zionism.
Bauer, Yehuda. Flight and Rescue: Brichah. New York: Random House, 1970.
Rolef, Susan Hattis, ed. Political Dictionary of the State of Israel, 2d edition. New York: Macmillan, 1993.