Acco prison wall after the jail break. Photo source: Jewish Virtual Library

Acco prison wall after the jail break. Photo source: Jewish Virtual Library

Irgun fighters dressed as British soldiers, preparing for the attack. Photo source: Jewish Virtual Library

Irgun fighters dressed as British soldiers, preparing for the attack. Photo source: Jewish Virtual Library

Acco Prison Break

Acco, May 4, 1947


Looking to free Irgun and Lehi fighters imprisoned by the British in the fortress in Acco, the Irgun staged a daring and dramatic jail break. Having smuggled information and explosives to prisoners inside the prison, and staged a simultaneous attack from the outside by fighters dressed as British soldiers, the Irgun breached the prison for only the second time in its 800-year history.

By the end of the operation, 27 of the 41 escaped Jewish prisoners made it. Six were killed and eight captured. Of the Irgun attack force, three were killed and five captured; one British soldier was killed. The New York Times hailed it as one of the biggest jail breaks in history, Menachem Begin deemed it heroic, the Jewish Agency condemned it, the Yishuv loved it, and even the British acknowledged how bad it made them look. 

The prison break was immortalized in the 1960 film Exodus, starring Paul Newman.


Appears in

Episode 52

Connected To

Dov Cohen

Eitan Livni

Olei Hagardom

The Irgun

The Lehi / Stern Gang

 

Go Deep!

Exodus
Starring Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, John Derek, Lee J. Cobb, Peter Lawford