Jakub Kumoch, the Polish ambassador to Switzerland inaugurated an exhibition presenting the activities of the so-called “Ładoś Group”, which forged passports to save Jews endangered by the Holocaust.
The exhibition presents examples of forged passports issued for Jews by Polish diplomats, the photographs of saved people, as well as documents from the “Eiss archive”.
The exhibition was accompanied by a screening of the movie “Passports to Paraguay,” directed by Robert Kaczmarek and produced by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN). The film is about the activities of “Ładoś Group”, better known as the “Bernese Group.”
The exhibition is organised in Ulma-Family Museum of Poles Who Saved Jews in WWII in Markowa, south-eastern Poland. The ambassador was asked about the work of the Polish diplomats and their forging of passports. He said that they “quickly identified two influential Jewish organisations, one secular and one religious.”
“Those organisations, thanks to their ‘agents’ created lists of people with their personal data and delivered to the Polish mission [in Bern] where the passports were created. They also transferred money, which was used as ‘a bribe for a Swiss national’, who was an honorary consul of Paraguay,” Mr Kumoch said.
He added that the Paraguayan passports – but also Honduran, Haitian and Peruvian documents – were given to Jewish organisations, which distributed them to individuals around Nazi-German occupied Europe.
“Totally, we estimate that between 8,000 to 10,000 people received passports in Europe, not only in Poland... Many of them were pre-war citizens of Germany and the Netherlands,” the ambassador said.
Mr Kumoch also suggested calling the group of the Polish diplomats “Ładoś group” instead of “Bernese group.”
“The name ‘Bernese group’ causes a problem. In 20-30 years it will be associated with Switzerland, not Poland. Referring to the ‘Ładoś Group’ is more precise,” he said.
Aleksander Ładoś was the Polish ambassador to Bern during WWII. He was the leader of the group forging Latin-American passports for Jews endangered by the Holocaust conducted by Nazi Germany.