Polish President to commemorate diplomat who helped save Jews from Nazis

It is not known exactly how many people were saved, but it is thought to be around 800.

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October 9, 2018 04:25
1 minute read.
PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin and Polish President Andrzej Duda at Auschwitz in April.

PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin and Polish President Andrzej Duda take part in the annual ‘March of the Living’ at Auschwitz in April. . (photo credit: KACPER PEMPEL / REUTERS)

 
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President of Poland Andrzej Duda will pay tribute on Tuesday to Konstanty Rokicki, a Polish diplomat who lived in Switzerland during the Second World War and who helped save several hundred Jews during the Holocaust.

Rokicki was involved in providing Jews with forged South American passports.

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The idea was brought up by Juliusz Kühl, a Polish Jewish diplomat; Chaim Yisroel Eiss of Agudat Yisrael; and Abraham Silberschein, said Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Weisenthal Center.

Polish envoys Aleksander Łados and Stefan Ryniewicz provided diplomatic cover, while Silberschein and Eiss dealt with smuggling the passports into Nazi-occupied Poland.

According to the Polish Institutes, a cultural organization of the Polish Foreign Ministry, survivors of the Holocaust who received these passports came from countries such as the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Austria, France and Slovakia, among others.

Among the survivors were the chief rabbi of the Netherlands and leaders of an uprising in the Bedzin Ghetto, as well as from the Jewish resistance in Slovakia.

The number of passports approached the thousands, however, many recipients did not survive. The initiative ended in 1943 when Swiss authorities became suspicious.

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It is not known exactly how many people were saved, but it is thought to be around 800.

A ceremony will be held on Tuesday to unveil a new tombstone for Rokicki.

Duda will lay a wreath at the renovated tombstone. Survivors, their families, members of the Swiss Jewish community and representatives of the Polish Foreign Ministry will pay their respects.

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