History of Bernese Group on display at UN headquarters in Geneva

The history of the Bernese Group, a group of Polish and Jewish diplomats who forged foreign travel documents to save European Jews from the Holocaust during World War II, is the theme of an exhibition opened on Thursday in the UN seat in Geneva.

On show, among other exhibits, is the so-called Eiss Archive, which documents the operation. Also displayed are name lists, diplomatic correspondence, and photographs of Jewish applicants for the false passports. On February 12 the Eiss Archive will be officially transferred to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum on the camp site.

Poland's permanent envoy at the UN Zbigniew Czech told PAP that the exhibition aims to bring the history of the Bernese Group and its heroic rescue operation to greater public awareness.

Founded by Konstanty Rokicki, Poland's Consul in Bern during WWII, the six-strong Bernese Group of three Polish and three Jewish diplomats forged Paraguayan passports which were then issued to European Jews fleeing the Holocaust.

Funded by Jewish organisations and the Polish government-in-exile, the operation is estimated to have saved the lives of 700-800 people. Poland's embassy in Bern knows the names of at least half of them, 20 or more are still alive.