Story by Elena Makarova

  People from Lund
  Big news
  Striptease for dessert
  A role
  El Paradiso in Jerusalem
  Time Machine
  Old age
  Cloud Catcher
  Mauritius  Odyssey     Refugees      Slobodarna       Voyage under the Panama flag    Defense Regulations    Holy Land    Deportation    British Prison    Fritz Haendel  

Mauritius, described in the brochures as “a tropical paradise in the Indian Ocean, offering white sandy beaches, overlooking fantastic coral lagoons” – was discovered in the early 16th century by the Portuguese looking for a route to India; then it was taken over by the Dutch, who named it Mauritius after Prince Maurice of Orange. In 18th century it was a colony of France, which cultural influences are still felt there today. In 1815, following Napoleon’s defeat, the island became a British colony. The volcanic island of about 10 million years old covers an area of some 1,865 sq. km. The main urban center is Beau Bassin (pop. 110,000, i.e. about 10% of the island’s population). The newcomers were struck by the friendly welcome of the Creoles and Indians who lined the streets and threw flowers as they passed. They were also struck by the incredible beauty of the scenery. Imagine the red flame trees that dotted the green countryside at that time of year – a lovely contrast to the backdrop of the mountains. Even the Mauritian policemen who accompanied them smiled kindly. The refugees were not used to such treatment! In half an hour they reached Beau Bassin. “There we had the biggest surprise of our entire voyage,” wrote a refugee from Danzig in his diary. “The bus stopped in front of a small building. We entered a large yard where we saw two enormous cellblocks, about 100 meters long, with barred windows – A PRISON!” So, this was the way that the government was going to “look after them” – to keep them in prison! And, on 28 December 1940, no one yet knew for how long.”



      Boarding Pass to Paradise. Artists Peretz Beda Mayer and Fritz Haendel.  © Elena Makarova, 2005. For Contacts: Elena Makarova