Bernard Marks was born in 1924 in Cincinnati, Ohio. During WWII he served in the Merchant Marines for three years carrying war cargo to Europe. He returned to Cincinnati in December of 1945 and enrolled in at the University of Cincinnati.
While at the Univeristy of Cincinnati, Bernard met Hugo Schwartz, a Zionist, with connections to Aliyah Bet in New York. After learning about Bernard's war experience, Hugo arranged for Arieh Leshner, a aradio operator of S.S. Haganah, to contact Bernard about helping the effort to rescue Jews from Europe and take them to British controled Palestine.
Bernard's first mission was as a crew member on the S.S. Haganah. The ship made it to Haifa where Bernard was then smuggled out of Palestine on a Greek ship that he may continue to assist in bringing Jews to Palestine. Bernard spent a few months back in Cincinnati before being asked to Captain Ash of the Weston Trading Company (a front for the Jewish Agency) to ship out on the S.S. Warfield (which would later be renamed the Exodus 1947).
After a number of troubles, the Warfield had originally been sold for scraps, the crew loaded 4,550 passengers onboard (the ship was certified to carry 350) on July 10, 1947 and departed the next day.
As the ship headed out from France, a variety of other vessels tailed it. The crew's plan was to stay in international waters until they came abrest of Tel Aviv and then make a run of it. The entire town was supposed to come out and flood the beach so that the passengers on board the Exodus could "get lost" amongst them. But between 1:00am and 2:00am on July 18th the ship was boarded by the British. After much menuvering the ship was damaged and in order to protect the passengers the crew gave up (around 6:00am). Bernard was among those arrested but the charges were eventually dropped and he was deported.
Mr. Marks made his home in Cincinnati where he eventually went into real estate.
More information about Bernard Marks can be found on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's website.
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