More passports fabricated by Bernese Group found in Zurich

Several dozen WWII-era Paraguayan and Honduran passports, forged by Polish diplomats under Poland’s ambassador to Bern Aleksander Ładoś, have been discovered in Zurich archives. The documents were used to save Jews from imminent death at the hands of Nazi-Germans.

The invaluable collection was found in Zurich’s Modern History Archives (Archiv fuer Zeitgeschichte) in a suitcase, until recently unknown to historians, belonging to notary Marcus Cohn from Basilea.

“Over 30 documents shed new light on the research on Ładoś’s group and the number of faked passports,” said Poland’s ambassador to Switzerland Jakub Kumoch.

Paraguayan passports dominate the discovered documents. The handwriting of Polish consul to Bern Konstanty Rokicki, responsible for faking around a thousand passports in 1941-1943, was identified in the recently discovered documents.

Bernese Group archives on show in Warsaw’s Belweder Palace

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Moreover, a couple of fake Honduran and several Paraguayan passports faked by another diplomat were also discovered.

“Now we are certain that ‘another Rokicki’ was active at the embassy. We don’t know who he was, yet. This person fabricated a small number of passports. All of these documents made it to Jews in the Netherlands and saved some of their lives,” said ambassador Kumoch.

Proof that “the passports were directly sent to a notary who copied and sent them to concentration camps in the occupied Netherlands” has been found among the documents. The Polish foreign ministry announced that “an envelope addressed to Marcus Cohn with an Eisenmann family passport inside was sent from the Polish consulate in Bern.”

The Polish foreign ministry reported that works on compiling the full version of the Ładoś Group, also known as the Bernese Group, list of Jews who were saved from imminent death are underway by Poland’s embassy in Bern and the Pilecki Institute with the support of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), the Jewish Historical Institute, the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau and many microhistorians and genealogists from Poland, the Netherlands, Israel and the US.

To learn more about the Bernes Group, click here and see our broad database.

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