How did the Polish diplomacy contribute to saving Jews? Watch „Passports to Paraguay”, a documentary by IoNR.
Watch "Passports to Paraguay", a documentary by Polish Institute of National Rememberance:
In 1939, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia signed Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Though officially it was a non-aggression pact between the two superpowers, the brutal truth about it soon became clear. Poland, as the country between the two, has been invaded by them in just one month. Yet the landless Polish people kept on risking their lives to save those who were most vulnerable - the Jews, who were on the aim of Nazi Germany. And before Nazis eventually invaded Soviet Russia mid-1941, before USA contributed to the WWII, the Polish people would still keep on providing safe haven in their houses for the Jews, even if it was on pain of death.
Although today Poland has the world's biggest number of people awarded by Righteous Among the Nations honorific, there is a largely unknown (even for the Poles) story of cooperation between Polish diplomacy in Switzerland and Jewish organisation. In 1942—1943, an informal group of Polish diplomats and activists of Jewish organizations worked together to obtain passports of war-neutral South American countries for Jewish people imprisoned in ghettos by the Nazi German occupants of Poland and other European countries. Several thousands of passports were distributed - some of them were usable by more than one holder at once.
Thanks to these documents, many Jews avoided deportation to German death camps. The holders of such passports were sent to internment camps in Germany (Tittmoning, Liebenau, Bölsenberg) and to occupied France (Vittel) instead, because the Nazis had to honor such passports. Unfortunately, not many of the people saved thanks to the Polish diplomats and it is often the case that families of the survivors only now find out to whom their relatives owed their lives.
The secret group working at the Polish legation in Bern included:
- Aleksander Ładoś,
- Konstanty Rokicki,
- Stefan Jan Ryniewicz,
- Juliusz Kühl
On the part of Jewish organizations:
- Adolf H. Silberschein,
- Chaim Eiss.