Eiss Archive finally in Poland

After long negotiations the WWII-era Eiss Archive that documents the efforts of Polish diplomats in Switzerland to save Jews from the Holocaust, has reached Poland.

During WWII Polish diplomats in Switzerland, the so-called Bernese Group, issued hundreds of false passports from Latin American countries in an effort to get as many Jews as possible to safety.

“Despite many obstacles and dangers, because what they did was also illegal in Switzerland, they implemented their plan, with the approval of the Polish government-in-exile, to save people’s lives,” said Polish president Andrzej Duda.

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Now the Eiss Archive, which documents their actions, has reached Poland. It took over a year of negotiations, but soon it will be deposited in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

“I am glad that people from around the world will learn about this history and will hear about these heroes, who fought for human lives and human dignity and who, until now, were anonymous to most of us. Their names will be told,” emphasized Andrzej Duda.

Eiss was a businessman in Zurich and head of an orthodox movement, the Swiss branch of Agudath Israel. He organised the smuggling of the passports to Poles stuck in Germany. His archive will undergo professional conservation work, to preserve it so the story of the Bernese Group will be remembered by future generations.

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“This was an operation by remarkable people, Poles and Jews from Switzerland but with a Polish background. With the approval from London, this was an operation of the Republic of Poland and this is something I want to strongly emphasize,” said Piotr Cywiński, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

330 people are known to have survived the Holocaust thanks to having one of the fake passports issued by the Bernese Group. Another 387 were killed despite having the false documents. The fate of 430 others has not been determined.