President pays tribute to Polish diplomat who helped Jews in WWII
PR dla Zagranicy
Poland’s president on Tuesday unveiled a new tombstone at a Swiss cemetery for a Polish diplomat who helped Jews during World War II.
President Andrzej Duda pays his respects at the new tombstone of Konstanty Rokicki (1899-1958) at Friedental Cemetery in Lucerne, Switzerland, on Tuesday. Photo: EPA/URS FLUEELER
“We bow our heads to all those who were victims of the Holocaust during the darkest years of the 20th century and perhaps also the darkest era of human history,” President Andrzej Duda said at the ceremony in the Swiss city of Lucerne, honouring Konstanty Rokicki (1899-1958), a Polish diplomat who fabricated Latin American passports to save Jews from the Holocaust.
Duda added: “We bow our heads in respect to the millions of brutally murdered Jews, and we bow our heads in honour of the millions of brutally murdered citizens of various European countries, but, most of all, I today bow my head to the millions of murdered Poles, including Poles of Jewish descent.”
During WW II, Rokicki was among a group of diplomats led by the Polish ambassador to Switzerland at the time, Aleksander Ładoś, who produced fake passports of Latin American countries that helped hundreds of Jews escape from Poland at a time when the country was under Nazi German occupation.
In addition to Rokicki and Ładoś, the group included Juliusz Kuehl and Stefan Ryniewicz, according to public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency.
After nearly 75 years Poland has recovered a historical archive documenting the effort in which its diplomats helped rescue Jews from the Holocaust during World War II, the IAR news agency reported in August.
The collection originally belonged to Chaim Eiss (1867-1943), an Orthodox Jewish activist who was a member of the Bern-based group led by Ładoś.
It is estimated that the diplomats produced from several hundred to several thousand fake passports between 1941 and 1943.
The Speaker of Poland’s Senate, Stanisław Karczewski, in February unveiled a plaque in this Swiss capital Bern, commemorating the Polish diplomats who helped save Jews from the Holocaust.