List of over 3,000 Jews saved by WWII Polish diplomats published
A list of over 3,200 Jews saved by Polish diplomats during World War II has been published by the Pilecki Institute.
The so-called Ładoś List, named after the head of Polish war time delegation in Switzerland, includes names of people who received fake Central American passports prepared by Polish diplomats in Bern as a way to escape the horrors of the Holocaust.
From 1941 to 1943, Poles working in the delegation of Poland to Switzerland, together with Jewish organizations illegally bought, prepared and delivered fake passports and certificates of citizenship of four South and Central American countries to people threatened by the Nazi Germany: Paraguay, Honduras, Haiti and Peru.
With the fake passports in hand, Jews and others were able to escape occupied territories and imminent transportation to concentration camps. According to various estimates, the Ładoś Group (Aleksander Ładoś, Stefan Ryniewicz, Juliusz Kuehl, Konstanty Rokicki, as well as Second Polish Republic MP Abraham Silberschein and Jewish organizations’ representative Chaim Eiss) issued about 4-5,000 such documents, and the passport campaign could cover up to 10,000 people.
Wojciech Kozłowski, Pilecki Institute’s director, said during the press conference presenting the publication: “For 18 months our nearly 10-person team, in particular Monika Maniewska and Bartłomiej Zygmunt, together with doctor Jakub Kumoch and Jędrzej Uszyński, conducted works which culminated in today's publication – the Ładoś List".
The Ładoś List, which was edited by Dr. Jakub Kumoch, the Polish Ambassador to Switzerland, was prepared and published by the Pilecki Institute. The research was conducted jointly by the employees of the Polish Embassy in Bern and the Institute, with the support of experts from the Institute of National Remembrance, the Jewish Historical Institute, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oświęcim.
Work on the list was also supported by many researchers and Jewish activists from the Netherlands, Israel, the USA, France, and other countries.
"The list includes the names of 3,262 out of nearly 10,000 Jews whom the Polish diplomats in Bern tried to save. It’s impossible to conduct research, history politics and tell a story based on truth without sources. This work we are presenting is based solely on sources,” added Kozłowski. Some of the people on the list were fortunate enough to survive the war, others perished, while in many cases their fate remains unknown. The institutions involved in the list’s publication intend to carry on the research, in hopes of getting a clearer picture of what happened to the other 6,000 people not on the list.
According to the sources, 796 identified holders of the fake passports survived the war, while 957 died. Currently, the historians don’t know what happened to the rest. Considering there were about eight to ten thousand people on the receiving end of the initiative, we can assume there were more survivors.
"Realistically, in our opinion, the survival rate of people involved is 25 to 35 percent. This means that between 2,000 and 3,000 people could have survive. However, this number should be subject to further research. It also depends to a large extent on where the unknown and undiscovered passports have gone,” stated the authors of the publication.
Among the identified recipients of the life-saving documents were mainly Poles (2306), but also Germans (381) and Dutch (377). The other nationalities include Czechs, Austrians, Belgians, French, as well as Hungarians, Italians and Swiss.