Diplomat who used fake passports to save hundreds of Jews during WWII named Righteous Among the Nations
A Polish diplomat who saved the lives of hundreds of Jews during WWII by giving them false passports is to be named a Righteous Among the Nations, according to reports.
According to daily newspaper Haaretz, the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem has said WWII consul Konstanty Rokicki will be honoured for issuing the fake Latin American passports which helped hundreds of Jews escape the Holocaust in Nazi occupied Poland.
Konstanty Rokicki was a consul in Bern, Switzerland, where together with other Polish diplomats led by the ambassador, Aleksander Ładoś, his deputy Stefan Ryniewicz and diplomat Juliusz Kuehl, they produced fake documents from lists provided by two organizations, the Jewish rescue committee RELICO in Geneva and Zurich rabbi Chaim Eissem.
The so called the Bern Group comprised of Polish diplomas prepared passports for those in danger of deportation to get them out of Europe, mainly to Paraguay, but also Honduras, Peru, Salvador, Bolivia and Haiti.
The illegal passports were paid for by the Jewish groups, while the Polish diplomats acted as the middlemen, giving bribes or producing the fake passports. On many of the documents, the names are written in the same hand – Rokicki’s.All the Paraguayan documents prepared by the consul were backdated to December 1942 to prevent discovery.
Adam Daniel Rotfeld, later on the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs was one of those, who received the counterfeit documents.
The list includes many more important names: writer Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Finkel, the chief rabbi of the Netherlands, Aron Schuster, historian Nathan Eck, as well as Slovak and Będzin ghetto underground leaders.
Konstanty Rokicki will be the 6707th Pole recognized for aiding Jews during Holocaust.
After the war, he stayed in Lucerne, Switzerland, not wanting to serve the Communist regime. He died in 1958, after suffering from illness for several years.
Rokicki’s and the Bern Group’s deeds were recently uncovered by Polish diplomats and recognized in a ceremony in October last year, with President Andrzej Duda present.