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

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.

Read more at Tablet

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

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation