CYPRUS: Israeli president to visit monument dedicated to babies of Holocaust survivors

During his one-day stay Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will visit a monument in Nicosia dedicated to the 2200 children of Holocaust survivors who were born in British detention camps in Cyprus during the aftermath of WWII.

Bilateral relations between Cyprus and Israel, plus regional issues are expected to be discussed during talks between Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and his Israeli counterpart Rivlin on Tuesday.

After their official meeting, the two Presidents will make statements to the press. Later on, President Anastasiades will host an official lunch for Rivlin and his delegation.

The British detained about 52,000 illegal immigrants on Cyprus, they were primarily young people with approximately 80% aged 12 to 35, while 8,000 were between the ages of 12 and 18. The majority were orphans.

The monument is situated at the present military camp of Lieutenant General Vasilios Kapotas, known as BMH (British Military Hospital).

Rivlin’s visit the BMH marks the 70th anniversary of the closing of the prison camps that housed illegal immigrants, nearly all of whom were Holocaust survivors and were turned away by British Mandate authorities as they approached the shores of pre-state Israel.

The British established internment camps in Cyprus, where from 1946-1949, would-be immigrants to Mandatory Palestine were housed in tents. At the height of illegal immigration, known in Hebrew as Aliya Bet, there were 12 such camps in Cyprus, in which some 2,000 Jewish babies were born.

There were several escape attempts made by inmates, some of whom were aided by members of the local community.

Like the refugees and the Jews living in Palestine under British rule, the Cypriots had no great love for the British, and were only too happy to help the people who left displaced persons camps in Europe, only to be denied entry to Palestine.

Some of the babies born in Cyprus, who are now Israeli citizens in their early 70s, have been invited to visit the country of their birth on Tuesday to close the circle of shared history.

Following the establishment of the state of Israel in May 1948, the Cyprus detention camps ceased operation (the last closed in February 1949) and the detainees made their way to the newly created state. An estimated 400 Jews died during their internment on the island.

Source: The Financial Mirror