Running the Palestine Blockade: The Last Voyage of the Paducah

Author Rudolph Ward Patzert
Publication information Voyageur Press; US Naval Institute Press, April 1994, 223 pages



In 1947, Rudolph Ward Patzert was the captain of SS Paducah, one of the 60 ramshackle rescue ships enlisted by the Jewish underground to smuggle Holocaust survivors past the British blockade and into Palestine.
The author was a 35 years old, New York City gentile.
His orders--to sail his ship from Brooklyn to Bulgaria, having been given no clues to the purpose of his mission.
The condition of SS Paducah made the trip risky; its old steering system often broke down and the voyage was subject to harassment by British authorities and shakedowns from harbor officials, who charged Captain Patzert with commanding an unseaworthy vessel.
In Bulgaria, he took on 1,400 passengers, and from then on, was shadowed by British destroyers and reconnaissance planes.
By the time the British took custody of SS Paducah, off the Palestinei coast, Rudolph Patzert's identification with the Holocaust survivors who were his passengers was so strong that he adopted the name Mendel Levey and willingly joined them in a British internment camp.
This vivid memoir provides a fresh look at the massive migration of Jewish "illegals" to Palestine between the end of the war and the founding of the state of Israel.


  1. Abrams, Sydney 'Syd' A.
  2. Baird, Pierre P
  3. Brettschneider, Louis Lewis 'Lew'
  4. Greaves, Walter 'Heavy'
  5. Gutmann Gutman, David 'Dave' Irving
  6. Kalametzov
  7. Kallner, Moshe
  8. Kite, Arnold A.
  9. Kubersh, Benjamin 'Benny'
  10. Morgan, Evan J.
  11. Wurm, David
  12. Zlozcower, Naftali 'Nifty'