In 1945, when Allied troops entered the Nazi concentration camps, they discovered piles of corpses, bones, and human ashes—testimony to mass murder. Soldiers also found thousands of survivors—Jews and non-Jews—suffering from starvation and disease. After liberation, many Jewish survivors feared to return to their former homes because of the antisemitism (hatred of Jews) that persisted. Some who returned home feared for their lives. With few possibilities for emigration, tens of thousands of homeless Holocaust survivors migrated westward to other European territories. There they were housed in hundreds of refugee centers and displaced persons (DP) camps.
A variety of Jewish agencies worked to assist the displaced persons. Refugees also formed their own organizations. The Jewish Brigade Group (a Palestinian Jewish unit of the British army) was formed in late 1944. Together with former partisan fighters displaced in central Europe, the Jewish Brigade Group aimed to facilitate the exodus of Jewish refugees from Europe to Palestine. In 1947 the British forced the ship Exodus 1947, carrying 4,500 Holocaust survivors headed for Palestine, to return to Germany. In most cases, the British detained Jewish refugees denied entry into Palestine in detention camps on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. With the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948, Jewish displaced persons and refugees began streaming into the new sovereign state. Other Jewish refugees in Europe emigrated as displaced persons or refugees to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, western Europe, Mexico, South America, and South Africa.