Yad Vashem’s decision to posthumously award Konstanty Rokicki the “Righteous Among the Nations” title and medal in April while granting two other members of the Ładoś Group only letters of appreciation has prompted Holocaust survivors to act on the institute’s decision.
Ambassador Aleksander Ładoś and his deputy Stefan Ryniewicz, who were not decorated by Yad Vashem, together with consul Konstanty Rokicki saved hundreds of Jews from the imminent death in German concentration and death camps during WWII by forging South American passports and delivering them to Jews in ghettos.
This was met with protest and calls for clarification by those who survived thanks to the Group’s agenda. “We are the survivors and descendants of survivors. None of us would be alive if someone in our family hadn’t received a falsified South American passport during the terrible years of the Holocaust,” reads the 31 signatories’ letter to Yad Vashem.
“We are confused by the fact that only one of the three Gentile Poles involved in the passport operation has been named Righteous. Our understanding is that Consul Rokicki was acting under instruction and protection of Aleksander Ładoś and Stefan Ryniewicz,” the letter reads.
The signatories expressed their wonder whether the cases of whether to award the two men an award had not been decided yet “or if there has possibly been a clerical error in understanding that those of us who filed motions intended all three to be considered.”
The undersigned Holocaust survivors and their descendants stated that the letter should be considered “a repeat request to consider both Aleksander Ładoś and Stefan Ryniewicz as Righteous Among the Nations as it doesn't make sense to honour only part of a group who worked so closely together.”
“We owe our lives to these brave men of blessed memory and would like to see them honoured,” concludes the letter that has been signed, among others, by a trial and appellate lawyer with 40-years-experience Guy O. Kornblum, Ruth Fishman – the hero of a book entitled “Tutti’s Promise” authored by Heidi Fishman who also signed the letter. The book tells the story of a Jewish family surviving the Holocaust in West-Central Europe.
According to the Wirtualna Polska news website, Yad Vashem has not responded to the letter yet.