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Book Talk: The People on the Beach

Sunday, February 18 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EST

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Book Talk: The People on the Beach

A vivid history tracing Holocaust survivors who risked everything again for a new life in Palestine.



On a summer’s night in 1946 over a thousand Holocaust survivors secretly travelled to a secluded beach on the Italian Riviera. They had survived Auschwitz, hidden in forests and endured death marches and they were now about to take on the Royal Navy. They boarded an overcrowded illegal immigrant ship intent on smashing through the British blockade of the shores of Palestine. Who were they? Where had they come from? How did they get to Italy and make contact with the elusive secret agents who were in charge of the sailing?

An evocative blend of history and part detective story, this is a journey to find out who the people on the beach were and what had brought them to a remote Italian shore. Were they down trodden angst ridden survivors of a weak and passive people who went like lambs to the slaughter or aggressive imperialists off to conquer a foreign land? The People on the Beach explodes fossilised myths and gives the survivors back their voices.

Their forgotten story is part of a larger one that sits between two crucial events in Jewish history – the Holocaust and the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. It is the link between the two. Seventy thousand Holocaust survivors passed through Italy between 1945-48. This is the story of that biblical exodus, why so many Holocaust survivors felt they could not stay in the places in which they had lived for generations and how Zionism offered them a future.

From Vilnius in Lithuania to Arenzano in Liguria The People on the Beach follows in their footsteps as this is a story about the present as well as the past. Those who write history in stereotypes have allowed a false history to grow up around the story of how Israel was born. It is a lack of knowledge that allows history to be distorted. If the facts are not told it leaves those who want to hijack history free to do so.

Rosie Whitehouse

Rosie Whitehouse is a seasoned journalist with a distinct focus on delving into the tapestry of Jewish existence post-Holocaust. Her insightful narratives grace the pages of esteemed publications such as BBC Online, the Observer, The Independent, Tablet magazine, The Jewish Chronicle, Haaretz, and more. A proud alumna of the London School of Economics, Rosie also serves as a historical advisor at Centropa, a prominent Jewish history institute headquartered in Vienna.

Dr. Josh Andy

Dr. Josh Andy is a full time teacher at Winchester Thurston School, and an educational programs leader and Holocaust scholar with Classrooms Without Borders. An accomplished and award winning educator, Dr. Andy holds a Ph.D. in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University and teaches in the Upper School. In addition to teaching Genocide and Holocaust Studies, he teaches a course on the modern Middle East, Multicultural America, and AP European history. Next year he will teach Russian history. He has traveled internationally to study global cultures and issues as part of his work to design engaging courses for his students. He earned WT’s Mary Houston Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2014, which funded his trip to Amman, Jordan, to develop his Middle East course.


Sunday, February 18
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EST
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