Holocaust survivors’ son calls for honouring PL diplomats by Yad Vashem

Markus Blechner, the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland in Zurich appealed to the The World Holocaust Remembrance Centre Yad Vashem to recognise another two Polish diplomats, in the wake of awarding Konstanty Rokicki Righteous Among the Nations.

Distinguishing one Bernese Group member over others raises questions

see more

In 2017, Mr Blechner filed a motion with Yad Vashem to grant the title to three Polish diplomats involved in rescuing Jews by issuing forged passports of South American countries during WWII.

In the statement published on his Facebook profile, Mr Blechner thanks Yad Vashem for its decision, but points out that two other diplomats operating under the so-called Bernese Group: the then Polish ambassador in Switzerland Aleksander Ładoś and his deputy Stefan Ryniewicz deserve to be honoured as well.

Markus Blechner, who is a son of a Holocaust survivor, states that both Mr Ładoś and Mr Ryniewicz “provided Mr Rokicki full diplomatic protection, and in some cases participated in the forging of passports or even ordered Rokicki to do so”.

In his opinion, notwithstanding the efforts of Konstanty Rokicki, his “sole credit for this operation cannot be (...) considered as duly recognising all the persons involved.”

This is not the only time that Yad Vashem’s decisions have raised questions and controversy. In 2009, it was only after angry reactions by Dutch Holocaust survivors, and 230 petitions, that Yad Vashem decided to honour two families, the Hollebrands and the Eggings, that during the Holocaust hid Jewish children who had been converted to Christianity by their parents. Unfortunately, the Nazis later caught and murdered the children.

The Bernese Group operated in the Polish embassy in Switzerland during WWII and saved at least 800 Jews from the Holocaust, by providing them with forged Latin American passports.