Polish embassy in Bern invites Israeli media to honor righteous gentiles

The invitation was extended amid Israel-Poland dispute over Polish Holocaust-related legislation.

By
February 11, 2018 11:18
1 minute read.
A Holocaust survivor shows his tattoo

A Holocaust survivor shows his tattoo. (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

The Polish Embassy in Switzerland on Saturday invited Israeli journalists to attend a ceremony honoring two Polish envoys to Bern who rescued hundreds of Jewish lives during the Holocaust by forging Paraguayan passports.

The pointed invitation comes amid a dispute between Israel and Poland over contentious legislation recently passed in Poland making it a crime to blame the “Polish Nation or Polish State” for culpability in the Holocaust.

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The Polish Embassy in Switzerland Tweeted at Israeli and Jewish journalists and publications-- including The Jerusalem Post and this reporter-- a letter that reads: "Dear Israeli journalists, Dear Colleagues, it is my honor to invite you to a ceremony of unveiling of a commemorative plaque dedicated to the memory of Polish diplomats - Juliusz Kühl (1913-1985) and Konstanty Rokicki (1899-1958)- which will take place at noon, on February 12th at Thunstrasse 21, in Bern, Switzerland."

The letter goes on to describe how Rokicki and Kühl, a Jewish diplomat, worked together to sent forged Paraguayan passports to countries such as Nazi-occupied Poland, the Netherlands and Slovakia, saving hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives. 

The ceremony is set to be attended by Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland Stanislaw Karczewski, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Dziedziczak, US and Israeli envoys to Bern and representatives of the Polish and Swiss Jewish communities.

On Thursday, dozens of Holocaust survivors protested outside the Polish Embassy in Tel Aviv, demonstrating against the new law in Poland, carrying signs with slogans such as: “No law can erase history” and “Poles, we remember what you did.”

The bill was signed into law last Tuesday by Polish President Andrzej Duda, despite a furious reaction from Israel and warnings from Washington that this could damage US-Poland ties. Hours before he signed the bill, however, Duda said he would send it to the country’s Constitutional Tribunal for judicial review, leaving open the possibility of a last-ditch amendment to the legislation.

Duda is expected to deliver a special address to the participants of the ceremony in Bern on Monday.


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