Jerusalem - The flag of an iconic ship that tried to take Jewish Holocaust survivors to what would later become Israel is destined for a museum in the United States, an auction house said on Thursday.
The SS Exodus was the most famous of hundreds of ships that sought to transport European Jews to the land that later became the nation of Israel immediately after World War II.
The Israeli flag that flew from the ship was sold in Jerusalem for $144 000 to two Jewish American brothers in the real estate business, the auction house involved in the sale confirmed.
The flag was to be auctioned publicly, but was removed after the brothers reached an agreement to buy it and then donate it to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
Meron Eren, owner of the Kedem Auction House in Jerusalem that handled the sale, said he was glad the flag would be available for those wanting to learn about the Holocaust.
"My personal preference is to always have national institutions as the buyers of historical items, who will leave the items accessible to the general public, and I am glad that this is the case with the Exodus's flag," he said.
The Exodus sailed to British-mandate Palestine in 1947 with 4 500 Jewish survivors of Nazi camps on board who had no legal immigration certificates.
British seamen boarded the ship shortly before it docked and the families were eventually deported back to British-controlled Germany, where they were held in camps.
The images of Holocaust survivors being held behind barbed wire fences caused uproar and helped increase support for Jewish emigration to Israel.
Their voyage inspired the 1958 book Exodus by Leon Uris and two years later a movie based on the book starring Paul Newman.