The Joint Polish-Jewish Effort to Save Hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust

Jan. 20 2020

In 1942 and 1943, diplomats from the Polish government in exile, together with Jewish activists, forged Latin American passports and certificates of citizenship for 3,262 Jews in the clutches of the Third Reich. Menachem Rosensaft tells their story:

The Bernese Group’s clandestine rescue operation was spearheaded by Konstanty Rokicki, a consul at the Polish legation in Bern, who acted with the full knowledge and support of Aleksander Ładoś, the Polish ambassador to Switzerland, and Abraham Silberschein, a former member of the Polish parliament, and was largely funded by the Geneva office of the World Jewish Congress through an organization called RELICO (the Relief Committee for the War-Stricken Jewish Population) headed by Silberschein.

Rokicki, together with Juliusz Kühl, a Jewish attaché at the legation, bribed Latin American diplomats—[like] the honorary consul of Paraguay in Switzerland—to obtain blank passports, which Rokicki then proceeded to forge manually. Rokicki also obtained blank-signed letters from the honorary consul . . . stating that the recipient was a Paraguayan national.

Ambassador Ładoś oversaw both the operation and its cover-up, provided his fellow conspirators with diplomatic support, and convinced the Swiss authorities to turn a blind eye to the group’s efforts. Helped by Jews in Switzerland with contacts in various ghettos of Poland, including . . . Nathan Schwalb, an official of the World Zionist Organization in Geneva, the Bernese Group compiled lists of Jews for whom the forged passports or nationality letters could be created, and then arranged for the fake documents to be smuggled to the Warsaw Ghetto . . . and other locations in Nazi-occupied Poland. The other two key members of the Bernese Group were Stefan Jan Ryniewicz, the deputy head of the Polish legation in Bern, and Chaim Yisroel Eiss, a leader of the Orthodox Agudath Israel movement in Switzerland.

In most cases, the documents didn’t reach their recipients in time to allow for their escape. Rosensaft’s father was one such recipient, who in the end was sent to Auschwitz but managed, against the odds, to survive.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Holocaust, Poland, Righteous Among the Nations, Switzerland

 

The Significance of Mahmoud Abbas’s Holocaust Denial

Aug. 19 2022

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to Berlin, gave a joint press conference with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, where he was asked by a journalist if he would apologize for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. (The relationship between the group that carried out the massacre and Abbas’s Fatah party remains murky.) Abbas instead responded by ranting about the “50 Holocausts” perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians. Stephen Pollard comments:

Scholz’s response to that? He shook Abbas’s hand and ended the press conference.

Reading yet another column pointing out that Scholz is a dunderhead isn’t, I grant you, the most useful of ways to spend an August afternoon, so let’s leave the German chancellor there, save to say that he eventually issued a statement hours later, after an eruption of fury from his fellow countrymen, saying that “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.” Which only goes to show that late is actually no better than never.

The real issue, in Pollard’s view, is the West’s willful blindness about Abbas, who wrote a doctoral thesis at a Soviet university blaming “Zionists” for the Holocaust and claiming that a mere million Jews were killed by the Nazis—notions he has reiterated publicly as recently as 2013.

On Wednesday, [Abbas] “clarified” his remarks in Berlin, saying that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.” Credulous fools have again ignored what Abbas actually means by that.

It’s time we stopped projecting what we want Abbas to be and focused on what he actually is, using his own words. In a speech in 2018 he informed us that Israel is a “colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism”—to such an extent that European Jews chose to stay in their homes and be murdered rather than live in Palestine. Do I have to point out the moral degeneracy of such a proposition? It would seem so, given the persistent refusal of so many to take Abbas for what he actually is.

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Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Holocaust denial, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority