07/02/2019 Thursday

Polish diaspora in US to promote Polish diplomats saving Jews in WWII

During a Wednesday meeting at the Polish consulate in New York, Polish ambassador to Switzerland Jakub Kumoch told the story of Polish diplomats who forged passports to save Jews during WWII, which the Polish diaspora wants to promote in US schools.

During the meeting, attended by representatives of the Jewish community, Kumoch underscored that Polish Consul Konstanty Rokicki forged at least 1,056 Paraguayan passports in Switzerland for 2,200 or more people. Fifty percent of their names are already known. Kumoch estimated that thanks to Rokicki's efforts, and others of the 'Bernese Group,' at least 800 people were rescued.

"As a certain piece of Holocaust history, it attracts great interest abroad. Huge interest can especially be seen in Israel, where those saved are living. They narrate these stories to journalists, who fight for the memory of our diplomats and their Jewish partners. New articles on these subjects appear from time to time," Kumoch said.

In his opinion, this issue is becoming more popular in South America, mainly in Paraguay, the country which substantially contributed to saving people's lives. Kumoch emphasised that this brave country, which recognised the forged passports, considered human's life more important than "blind application of justice."

The guests invited to the meeting with Kumoch were among others representatives of the Jewish organisations including the World Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, and Consulate General of Israel in New York. Some of the participants spoke about the necessity of promoting the Bernese Group's activities.

Polish Consul General in New York Maciej Golubiewski said that the Western New York Division of the Polish American Congress along with the Kościuszko Foundation and representatives of the Polish diaspora have already made efforts to enrich the Holocaust educational materials contained in the New York schools' curriculum with information of the passport forging.

The participants of the meeting saw an exhibition entitled Never Let Down the Trust – Polish Diplomats Saving Jews during the Holocaust, prepared by the Polish Embassy in Washington. It presents the efforts of Poles saving Jews, including Jan Karski, Aleksander Ładoś and Konstanty Rokicki.