Bricha was the organized illegal immigration movement of Jews from Eastern Europe across the occupied zones and into Israel. Perhaps the largest organized clandestine population transfer in history, Bricha (Hebrew for "escape"), is astounding both in the organization that directed the flow and in the mass movement itself. The aim was to reach the coasts, where clandestine ships arranged by the Aliyah Bet organization could transfer the DPs to Palestine. Founded by Abba Kovner and other surviving partisans of Vilna, Bricha began operations in July 1945. As the exodus of survivors out of Eastern Europe intensified in the summer of 1946, the decision was made to establish a network of way stations that would route the survivors through Poland and into the U.S.-occupied zone of Germany. The U.S. zone commanders, along with the Czechoslovakian government, tacitly permitted the infiltration. Soldiers from the Jewish Brigade and the underground Jewish army in Palestine assumed administration of the program and funds were provided by the JDC. Bricha operatives who escorted the DPs were frequently survivors themselves. Between August 1945 and the end of June 1946, Bricha figures showed 48,106 refugees that had left Poland in this way. In total, an unknown number of Jews reached Palestine via Bricha, but the estimate ranges from 80,000 to 250,000.



A group of Jewish DPs leaves the Bad Gastein, Austria, displaced persons camp on the Bricha route in 1946.
Jewish DPs who have fled from Poland, sleep in the box car of a train while on their way to the west.
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